My late mother-in-law was not a very good cook. My husband has always preferred my cooking. However, there was one dish that she made that was amazing and after all these years and countless tries, I cannot for the life of me recreate it.
She used to serve a pot roast (they called it roast beef) with potatoes, carrots, and onions. While I really could pretty much have cared less about the beef, the veggies were delish because of it. They were exquisitely cooked and caramelized brown and served with an au jus.
You need to know a little background about her cooking before you start making suggestions on how she did this. First and probably most importantly is that the woman had absolutely NO idea that people browned meat before cooking it in liquid. Her method was to plunk a hunk of raw meat in a pool of water to cook in her old blue speckled oval roaster in the oven. My husband says that any browning was done at the end of the cooking when she would 'scorch' the meat...ugh... I recall she would at some point transfer the pan from oven to stove top to brown the vegetables. I can still see her standing there poking at them with her fork.
The woman never made a decent gravy in her life.
Also important is that her entire collection of spices included salt, pepper, onion salt, garlic salt, and cinnamon. I'm not sure if you would include the Worcestershire sauce in that or not, but she would.
From what I can gather, this dish was cooked in water til the water boiled away and then added again as the last step to produce what is lovingly called the "juice." It's the in between steps that no one in this family is able to describe. I have begged, bothered, offered to buy the stuff if I could just watch them make it, but with a number of women in the family who still cook this, not one of them understands how to relate the recipe. They're not the most intelligent of women, but they are sweethearts, so I just have to go elsewhere for suggestions.
Is ANYONE out there aware of how this is made??? I have my fingers crossed and will answer any questions that I can.