“It Can’t Be Done”

Those four words, uttered by Souzz herself, set in motion what is now known in our house as the “Roast Beef Challenge.” Unlike the ice bucket challenge, this one only involved cooking and eating (however, I do hereby challenge Marcia, Betsy, and Carolyn to dump roast beef on your heads; you have 24 hours, good luck).

Perhaps a bit of family history is in order. Suzy’s father once famously proclaimed that “the woman cooks the roast beef!” The sisters all erupted in laughter, and I’m actually one of several sons-in-law with a favorite spatula. 🙂

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Our fry-bake dutch oven had been used across a wide range of recipes, from the mundane (bagels and melted cheese) to the absurd (three cheese lasagna). So I started musing about what could be the most ridiculous thing ever, and I suggested cooking an entire roast beef.

Once the giggling and snarky comments subsided, it was time to get busy. I combined a three pound chuck roast, sea salt, pepper, olive oil, onions, potatoes, carrots, fresh thyme, marjoram, red wine, beef stock, a backpacking stove, the fry-bake, and 48 coals, added three hours, and I had myself a pretty tender cut of meat, a story, and bragging rights in the household.

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We browned the veggies to make some good juices, then pounded the beef (just enough so that it fit into the cozy confines of a fry-bake), seasoned by rubbing in a lot of sea salt and pepper, browned it as you would on the range (we used a camp stove), added in stock and red wine until it was about half-way up the side of the roast, sprinkled in marjoram and thyme, and cooked away.

We flipped it each hour and added the vegetables back in for the last hour…and at that point I’d say the challenge was complete. It was more tender than anything we’ve made on the range at home, and it didn’t dry out like roasts sometimes do in the oven.  A big key was keeping a tight seal, and we added more stock and a little olive oil on top of the roast at about halfway.

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How practical is it in the backcountry? Well, not at all. But if you tell me something can’t be done, then I’m going for it. Just this morning, Suzy told me that it was impossible for me to cook for her every single night.

I think I have a beef with that, though.

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