Oh, dear Barefoot Contessa. Sweet Ina. Where did I go wrong? Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been sharing the same head and chest cold with my toddler for over a month now, and I’m operating on a torture victim’s ration of sleep. Maybe the fact that I hadn’t left the house for days on end made me so loopy that I couldn’t read the directions properly. It could be that I got a bum cut of meat. But this dinner? This Company Pot Roast (Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, pp. 117-118) and Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Barefoot In Paris, p. 166)? This dinner was downright inedible. Let’s start with the pot roast: I followed these directions exactly. I chose a perfectly marbled chuck roast, and I seared it on all sides. I used the exact amount of liquid called for, and it wasn’t in the oven for a minute too long. It came out tasting like wine-flavored shoe leather. Profanity may have been uttered. The sauce was a gigantic mess (hot liquids + the food processor + me = disaster). The garlic mashed potatoes were more like potato soup. It’s possible that I’m just not wise in the ways of a food mill, but it was not working for me on the night of the garlic mashed potatoes. I can’t believe I peeled an entire head of garlic for this soupy mess.
The redeeming quality of this meal was that I was reminded that I have a Most Wonderful Husband, who has learned not to say, “Maybe it will be better the next time you make it.” There will be no next time. I’m disappointed to be so… disappointed. My word to the wise: make the “company” pot roast at home first for your family before trying it out on company. Hopefully you’ll have better luck than I did. In the meantime, I’m not giving up faith in the project, and I’m not even going to blame the recipes for these disasters. I think maybe I had a bad cut of meat. Perhaps I should have soldiered on with the food mill for the potatoes a bit longer. Either way, I think the advice holds true for any recipe that one should try a menu at home for family (and possibly some brave friends) first, before trying to impress guests with it. And if you’re new in the kitchen, rest assured that all of us have a bad meal or two.
Edited to add: As if the disappointing dinner weren’t bad enough, I had the worst time loading pictures into this post. It’s like adding insult to injury. Just kick me while I’m down, why don’t you, WordPress?