Sunday, September 26, 2010

Traditional Sunday Dinner

I'm not sure how many Americans still prepare and enjoy a traditional Sunday dinner.  When was growing up in the 60's my mother always prepared a big meal, and like most of my peers, we sat down with family and sometimes friends, for this special dinner. 

Sunday dinner, usually consisted of soup or salad followed by roast meat, potatoes and vegetables and rounded out with a nice dessert... in our house usually a pie as my mother was a great pie baker.  Having the Sunday roast dates back to when the English squire would treat his serfs to a meal of roast oxen every Sunday to reward them for the week's work.  The traditional English dinner followed the settlers to the United States and remains in my family tradition to this day.

As Kevin's parents are returning to China, I thought now would be a good time to introduce them to this traditional meal.  During summer, which is when they typically visit, I serve mostly grilled food outdoors.  As fall has arrived here in Chicago, I took the opportunity to prepare a beef roast with mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans for our farewell meal, which was preceded by a butternut squash soup.

I picked up two nice pieces of chuck roast (various cuts will work) and braised them good (with a little oil) in a stainless heavy-bottomed skillet with tall sides.  This provides good color and a nice crust.  I use one of two methods for making pot roast.  Perhaps the most traditional method is simply roasting the meat with whole small white potatoes and carrots around the roast.  The other common method, shown here, is the method of making a flavorful gravy and cooking the roast with onions and mushrooms.  This latter method can also be used for cooking round steak.  With both the chuck roast or round steak, a long, slow, moist cooking method is required for most of the cooking period to give you tender meat.

As shown in the photos, after browning the meat, I saute the thick slices of onion.  I  add the onion and uncooked mushrooms to the meat and then deglaze the pan with about two cups of red wine.  After this reduces by half, I add three cups of chicken stock and one cup of beef stock to the wine and bring to a boil.  I thicken the mixture and now have a nice, dark gravy which I pour over the meat, onions and mushrooms.  I  cover the roast and cook in a 350F oven for about 2 hours, then uncover for one more hour of cooking.  The meat will be 'fall apart tender' when removed from the oven.  You'll have an excellent gravy for the mashed potatoes and the meal is sure to please, as well as give that 'traditional Sunday dinner' feel.


  1. Outstanding! What would you recommend for a non-mushroom alternative? I still haven't mastered beef gravy, and will gratefully accept all the help I can get.

  2. Instead of mushrooms, I used about 1 cup carrots, 2 stalks celery, and 1 small onion, put them in the food processor and "brown" this mixture right after you brown your meat, then add the red wine and reduce, etc. It made a very nice flavor to the sauce, without having big chunks of vegetables. It was Yummy!