Sunday dinner is a beloved tradition all women should share with their friends and families. This Italian Roast Beef with Polenta recipe is a great way to start a Sunday dinner tradition of your own. Brown the beef, add some spices, and throw the whole thing in a crock pot for eight hours while you enjoy an afternoon with the people you care about. The polenta cooks in the time it takes to set the table.
Sunday dinner is a great way to incorporate a special tradition into your life:
- Tradition is important. Traditions are vital to any group of people to feel like a community of friends or a family. They add a sense of consistency to our lives and make friends and family feel loved and wanted.
- Eating together is important. There’s a reason that our favorite holidays—birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day—all revolve around food. Yes, good food is good. But more importantly, we devote extra time to eating special meals. And during that extra time, we’re usually sitting around a table talking to the people we care about most. A special meal provides a chance to share our thoughts and feelings with our friends and families.
- Special treats are important. If you’re cooking on a budget—or on a diet—it’s easier to exercise self-restraint during the week if you know you have a special treat to look forward to. Don’t spend more than you have or blow a diet with an all-out splurge, but make Sunday your day for gourmet excellence. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to be more “responsible” the rest of the week.
The best way to balance your need to rest and your desire to have a delicious, home-cooked meal is to prepare something in the slow-cooker. Here is one of my favorite Sunday dinner recipes, Italian Beef Roast with Polenta.
I know that beef gets a bad rap, but it’s one of the only good dietary sources of vitamin B12. People who are B12 deficient often experience fatigue, depression, and poor memory.
Serving beef is also a great way to make your man feel more manly. My husband and father suggest that men have a primeval desire to eat something like a wild bison that he would have to put his life on the line to kill and eat. More practically, beef also adds much needed protein and leucine to a man’s diet, two nutrients important for building muscle.
Italian Beef Roast with Polenta
- 3 1/2 pounds beef pot roast*
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 28-oz. can of peeled, whole tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 heaping teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon of cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon of all spice
- 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup of milk
- 1 cup of cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- Butter and salt to taste
*This beef is going to stew for a long while, so don’t be afraid of a cheaper cut of meat.
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauce-pan over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shine, add the meat. Your goal is to brown all the sides to add flavor and texture. This process should take about ten to fifteen minutes. As you turn the beef, lightly coat it with salt. After it’s brown, remove the beef and add it to the slow cooker. Leave the oil in the pan.
- While the pan and oil are still hot, add the onion. Stir it almost continuously for about ten minutes. (If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this step. But caramelizing the onions adds a naturally-sweet kick you can’t get any other way.) Next, add the celery and carrots. Sauté the vegetables until they start to soften—about three minutes. Add the garlic and other spices and sauté for a minute or two more.
- Pour the juice from the tomatoes into the vegetable mixture. Let the mixture simmer as the liquid reduces for about ten minutes. Then, crush the tomatoes with your hands over the pot. (You can prevent squirting juice everywhere by piercing the tomatoes first with your thumb and then aiming the whole into the pot.) Pour the mixture over the meat. Set the slow cooker to low.
- For the next eight hours all you have to do it sit back and enjoy the warm, homey aroma of home-cooked beef.
- Right before you’re ready to eat, combine the milk with three cups of water and a pinch of salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Heat the mixture until it begins to bubble around the edges, but don’t let it come to a boil. When it’s hot, stir in the corn meal, a little at the time. Whisk as you pour to break up any lumps.
- Turn the heat down to low and simmer, whisking frequently. In five to ten minutes, you’ll have a soft paste about the consistency of sour cream. Remove the polenta from the heat. Stir in the butter, salt, and sugar.
- Serve the beef over a bed of polenta.
Be sure to lay a nice table and consider opening a nice bottle of wine before you dine.
For more great slow-cooker recipes, check out The Gourmet Slow Cooker. (This recipe is a modified version of their Italian Pot Roast.) Just be aware that most of the recipes in this particular cookbook are pretty scant on the salt.