I Picked a Peck of Pickled . . . Pot Roast?

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I Picked a Peck of Pickled . . . Pot Roast?

By Andrea Goto

I’m in a pickle. I offered to cook dinner for my in-laws, but as you probably know by now, I cook as well as David Hasselhoff dances. And sings. And acts. My mother-in-law already knows this and she reminds me of it on a regular basis. All the same, I figure that I just need to find the right recipe to shed my bad reputation. So as I’m searching through Paula’s recipes, imagine my surprise when I discover a bunch of easy recipes for slow cookers! I can hardly believe my luck: A batch of recipes written for the cooking impaired.

I select the recipe for Pulled Pickled Beef Sandwiches because my mother-in-law, like any good Midwesterner, loves pickles and loves beef. Putting them together will only double my chances for success. I’m less concerned with impressing my father-in-law. His taste buds are less discriminating. He eats Spam, kimchee and canned corned-beef hash, which I’m certain is reconstituted dog food.

Before going to the grocery, I skim the recipe’s directions. The first sentence causes alarm: “Place chuck roast in a slow cooker and pour entire contents of dill pickle jar over it.” Who is Chuck? And why am I eating him?

I turn to the magic crystal ball for answers, otherwise known as the internet. I Google “slow cooker” but instead of bringing up a picture of me, my search reveals some newfangled portable-oven do-hicky. Turns out, my mother-in-law has one. Turns out, every household in America has one. I’m starting to think there’s a cooking conspiracy against me.

At the grocery, I search the meat department for a roast cut from a cow named “Chuck.” I find a “bottom round roast” and a “rump roast”—neither sound like the end I want to eat. Just when I’m about to give up, I spot Mr. Chuck Roast. And for some reason, he’s tied up with a string.

At home I cut the string, eager to find out what’s inside. Liver? Giblet? Temporary tattoo? But there’s nothing. It’s a mock box. I consider returning the roast to the grocery for a refund, but I don’t have time. Chuck has a 10-hour day ahead of him.

The assembly is easy: meat plus pickles. Ten hours later, the house reeks of dill. Paula warns that this will happen, saying, “the smell is quite pungent.” I tie a bandana around my nose and mouth while I pull the meat apart with a fork. The fumes are so overpowering, I nearly faint. Nothing says “dinnertime” like a sulfuric mushroom cloud.

My in-laws and my husband sit in quiet skepticism at the dining room table as I carefully assemble the sandwiches. I serve my 4-year-old daughter first because she’s usually in my corner, thinking everything I touch turns to gold. But tonight she goes rogue.

“I don’t like that meat,” she says, her little button nose curled up to her eyebrows.

I tell her to try it. She plunges the sandwich in ketchup—the salve for all unsightly foods. While she does this, I’m painfully aware that everyone else is holding their sandwiches in mid-air as they wait for her reaction.

My daughter takes a big ketchupy bite, gives a few perfunctory chews, then goes stiff.

“I’m gonna throw up,” she mumbles through the mouthful of food.

“Oh, just swallow it.” My in-laws casually set down their sandwiches.

My daughter shakes her head. Then her mouth opens.

I catch the half-masticated glob of meat into a napkin as it falls from her mouth. The table emits a collective “Ewwwwwwww.”

“She doesn’t like pickles,” I explain. When no one moves, I narrow my eyes into scorned-daughter-in-law slits. Time to play the trump card.

“If we have another child, I hope she’s not as picky.”

That’s all it takes. My mother-in-law starts munching away at her sandwich, unable to conceal her delight. Not in the sandwich. In the prospect of me giving her another grandchild. She’ll do anything. Even this. After dinner she tells me that the sandwiches were “interesting”—the closest thing to a compliment my cooking has ever received.

“So, about having another baby . . .” she begins.

Yep, I’ve cooked my way into a pickle.

Andrea Goto lives and writes in Savannah, Georgia. Her kitchen experiments (known as “cooking” in more conventional homes) most often end with a mushroom cloud of smoke or a call to Poison Control. In spite of this, she’s deeply loved by her husband who prefers neon-colored cereals to all foods homemade, and her 4-year-old daughter who will eat almost anything, as long as you call it “chicken.” Need more Andrea? Follow her at www.andreagoto.com.

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Reader Comments:


Paula, you are such a great person and fabulous cook. I hope to eat at your place, or your son's, when I come to Savannah for an education meeting in October. One set back..I was just declared diabetic. How are you coping with your diabetes...in light of all of your delicious dishes? May God continue to bless you in all of your endeavors. Sister Rosemary SMith, RSM

By Rosemary Smith, RSM on August 20, 2013


Dear Paula: I admire your great art of cooking. I already want to get your next book!! Thank you for sahring this great recipes....I will try probably Pot Roast for my daughter's B'day ( Sasha) or chicken...she will love it! and all of us in the family! thank you for sharing...wishing you a lot of sucess! Sincerely, Beatriz

By Beatriz on March 05, 2011


I loved that article about the pickled roast!!I laughed so hard!!!I needed that this morning!!!How many times has something like this happened to us, glad we all suffer in numbers!!!ha ha

By sharon wolfe on January 14, 2011


@Chef Laura Walker: Wow, you DO have a list of amazing accomplishments! Glad you can laugh at my cooking disasters--in spite of your training as a chef! Congratulations on all that you have achieved, both personally and professionally.

By The Culinary Coward on January 13, 2011


that was pure funny and worth the read. Paula, I'm a culinary chef graduate of the Professional Culinary Institute, recently purchased by the French & Italian Culinary institutes!!! I love Paula Deen, and what I wouldn't give to spend the day with her. I am the adopted mother of two, plus two birth children and now I am the Grandma of two beautiful boys, ages 2 1/2 and 1 1/2. Paula, All of my children love to cook. My children are ages 37, 14, 13, & 12, two boys and two girls. We are an active, fun loving family. Paula, you are the bomb, the best in the south and pure joy to watch on TV. Two years ago I received an invitation to try out for FoodNetwork TV's newest star. The try outs were in SF. I didn't go to the audition due to the fact that my adopted eleven year old son was diagnosed Type one diabetic just before I got the invite. I am proud of my accomplishments - 48 when I went to culinary school, 50 when I graduated! My teacher was master Chef Klaus Freidenreich from PCI, in Campbell, CA, now owned by the French & Italian Culinary Institutes. I now teach private culinary classes in San Jose, CA. and Northern California up and down the coast, and I do restaurant reviews with a girlfriend whom owns a cowboy type breakfast place "Bite of Wyoming". Ciao, Love You Paula, Chef Laura Walker

By Chef Laura Walker on January 12, 2011


I got Paula's cookware for Christmas and it's the best thing I've ever cooked on!!!

By Byron Robinson on January 09, 2011


We were down to Savannah, GA. in May of 2010, We had Lunch at your Paula Deen and son's Resttaurant, Oh it was wonderful. we were in Savannah for our grandson's wedding. 5 of us sure did enjoy our selfs, And we plan on comming again, A.S.P. We also bought gifts from your store. That was fun also. Thank you so much. Marlene Longerbone

By Marlene Longerbone on January 06, 2011


I Love good down home stories

By devo on January 06, 2011

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