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nov. 17 dominoes and pot roast

November 16, 1999

By KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer

Photo by JOE CROCETTA / Staff Photographer


Pat Dick recently called us for some tips on cooking pot roast.

The Williamsport resident has no questions about the way she usually prepares it on top of the stove: Brown a chuck roast of beef, throw "everything else" in the bottom of the pan - carrots, potatoes, onions, turnips, parsnips - add water and simmer until the meat starts falling apart.

But she was having a few friends over for a friendly game of dominoes - they played for pennies - and she didn't want to be nervous about preparations the day of her party.

cont. from lifestyle

Pot roast is not usually considered a company dish, Dick, 67, admits.

"I'm a meat-and-potatoes cook," she says. And she has yet to find a restaurant that can make it "like mama used to."

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No apologies are required. Even Martha Stewart, the headmistress of good things for the home, has a new "comfort food" cookbook coming out in December.

Dick browned a 5-pound chuck roast and made the gravy the day before but then wondered how long, with how much water and at what oven temperature to reheat the roast and a new batch of vegetables for her guests.

It turned out not to matter, because, right in the middle of her party, the electricity went out. Dick and friends played dominoes by candlelight, and dinner had to wait.

When power returned, Dick cooked the roast at 400 degrees for an hour. It was good, according to Dick, and the evening was "a riot."

What do experts recommend?

There are food safety issues involved in reheating food, says Judy Matlick, West Virginia University extension agent for Jefferson County, W.Va.

Foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria that can cause food-borne illness, according to Fight BAC! at www.fightbac.org, the Web site of Partnership For Food Safety Education.

"It's the internal temperature of the meat that matters," says Lynn F. Little, family and consumer sciences extension educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County. Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked meat and poultry to make sure it's cooked through. It takes out the guesswork.

Roasts and steaks should be cooked to at least 145 degrees, Fight BAC! recommends. Cooked to that temperature, the beef would be rare. For medium, it should be cooked to 160 degrees, and to 170 degrees for well done.

To avoid contamination and to preserve flavor and texture, food should be reheated only once. Little and Matlick agree that food should not be partially cooked.

If you plan to reheat a roast, slice it, divide it into smaller portions and place it in shallow containers - no more than two inches deep. This ensures safe, rapid cooling. Food can be frozen this way, too, Little says.

When reheating, bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil. Heat other leftovers thoroughly to 165 degrees, Fight BAC! advises.

Dick also asked if we could come up with a recipe for pot roast cooked in the oven. Little says her mother used to do it that way all the time. She provided the recipe for Oven Baked Beef Pot Roast.

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