Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pete's Pot roast (A.K.A. Never-sweat stew)

We worked up this dutch oven recipe while camping at Eagle Lake, in Lassen County, CA. (Named for pioneer Pete Lassen) Once known as Nataqua Territory, there's a lot of rich pioneer history here, centered around both Honey Lake and Susanville. Living off the soil was so easy here that the townsfolk soon acquired an undeserved reputation of indolence. The name "Never-Sweats" was applied to the settlers and the name stuck into well into the 1860's and beyond.... hence the name of the stew.

It is easy, and a great recipe to use when you want to just relax in camp, but know you'll have a satisfying dinner when the coals die down. If you're feeling ambitious sourdough biscuits are a great accompaniment. See the slide show at the bottom of this recipe for all the steps.

This recipe serves four:
Using a charcoal starter or pile in a heap in a fire ring – start off about 4 lb. Charcoal. (amount will vary depending on outdoor temperature, wind, etc.) Coals need to burn about 10-15 minutes for all to become fully lit. OR Rev up a nice hot campfire using hard wood and wait for coals to develop.

Put your Dutch oven on the coals and add about 4 T. vegetable oil. Allow to heat until it starts to pop.
Prep while the coals and oil are heating: 1½ pound round steak or London broil, about 1½” thick, sliced in pieces approximately 4x5. Sprinkle both sides liberally with Rudy’s Rub (or similar spicy BBQ rub). Pound with meat tenderizer or edge of saucer until meat is about ¾ “ thick and the spices have been worked in. Mix a little salt and pepper with about ½ c. flour, coat both sides of each slice of meat, working the flower into the meat. Lay on a plate and cover, let rest for about 30 minutes.

Vegetables: quarter and slice a couple of large potatoes and an onion, slice up a couple of carrots into 1" pieces. Dice ¼ bell pepper and a clove of garlic. Place all the vegetables and an individual size can of whole kernel corn (or substitute abut ½ c. frozen, or fresh cut from two ears) in a bowl with a bottle of beer. Allow the vegetables to marinate at room temperature while you prep and brown the meat.

Coat the meat again with flour and work it in to any areas where the previous flour looks moist from the meat juices. Brown the meat on both sides in the hot oil.

Remove the Dutch oven from the coals. Remove meat, place cast iron trivet in the bottom of the Dutch oven (not essential but it helps prevent the meat from scorching) replace meat, pour in a bottle of your favorite cooking beer. Pull some of the coals to the side and lift a shovel-full (about 15 coals) for the lid. Put the kettle in the middle of the ring of coals, replace the lid and add the shovel-full of coals on the lid. Let the meat simmer for about 20 minutes, then check the liquid level. If it’s getting dry add a couple of cups of water.
Check as often as you think necessary. The outside temperature will have a lot of impact on how many coals you need. Simmer for about an hour. Then pour in the vegetables along with the beer they've been marinating in. Snuggle up the coals around the kettle, maybe put another coal or two on the lid, depending on how hot the contents were. Allow to simmer another hour, keeping an eye on the liquid. If it’s not quite time for supper you can just let it sit, as the heat from the coals will gradually taper off but the contents of the kettle will stay hot for quite awhile.
This recipe also works well in a crock pot.

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