Valley Bounty: Beef Pot Roast

For farmers who raise livestock, winter brings a shift in the rhythm of their work. I recently spoke with Mary Montague, who owns Bridgmont Farm in Westhampton with her husband Peter. The pair raise grass-fed beef and Montague explained that the summer is a whirlwind of activities across their 200-acre farm. Pasture fences need constant checking, farm buildings need to be repaired, and hay needs to be cut and baled. But once the pastures dry out in November, the cows come into the barn. “They still have to be fed twice a day and checked and watered,” Montague explained. “So there’s still a lot of chores to do. Just more inside chores than spending our time outside checking the land.”

Such is the nature of working with animals. Even as the holiday season rolls in with its bustle of snow and family celebrations, the work continues on, steady as ever. Montague grew up on a dairy farm in Ashfield and she remembers that even as a kid on Christmas day, the cows were the family’s top priority. “My mother would cover up all the presents under the tree and we would all have to get up and go to the barn,” she explained. “I had two brothers and two sisters and we had to feed the animals first. My dad always said, ‘We take care of them first because they’re what gives us our livelihood. So first we take care of them, then we go have our Christmas.” Young Montague would travel to her grandparent’s house to celebrate the holiday, but unsurprisingly, the day would always end back on the farm, with a round of evening chores. These days, Montague has grandchildren of her own. But the tradition of cows before presents has lived on. “My kids laugh about that because I did the same thing to them,” she said.

When Montague’s children were still kids, she had a job as a nurse in addition to her work on the farm. That schedule didn’t leave much time to make dinner for five. So, she adapted a recipe she found in an old Westhampton community cookbook for a delicious, easy to make dinner. Great for everything from getting the kids fed to hosting a dinner party. “When I was working away from the farm, I could pop it in the crockpot during the morning and go to work,” Montague said. “I’d come home at night and supper was ready. All the kids were coming home from their things and that was such a help, to just have supper ready without having to do that whole ‘Oh gosh, what am I going to get?’” If you’re running around like crazy during this busy holiday season, it might just be the perfect time to pick up some locally raised beef and try out Mary Montague’s Easy Barbecue Beef Pot Roast.

Easy Barbecue Beef Pot Roast  By Mary Montague, Bridgmont Farm
Serves 6-8

4 lbs. beef                                           2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp olive oil                                   3 Tbsp dark or light brown sugar

Salt and pepper                                ½ tsp dry mustard

1 cup water                                       ¼ cup lemon juice

1 (8oz) can tomato sauce              1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup ketchup                                dash Tabasco

3 medium onions, sliced or chopped

Stovetop: Brown meat in olive oil, in a Dutch oven or large pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add water, tomato sauce, onion and garlic. Cover. Simmer 2 hours.  Add remaining ingredients. Cover. Cook 1½ hours, or until tender, adding more water as necessary. Turn meat in pot every so often. Remove meat and skim off excess fat from gravy.

Crockpot: Use the same ingredients and put it in the crock pot for 5-6 hours.

Noah Baustin is the Communications Coordinator at CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)