The poor relative of a better cut of meat, the pot roast was always considered a non guest dish. I want to disagree with this image because truly, a good pot roast is not only an art to make but also a delicious dish to serve—for your family and guests. A good pot roast takes a bit more effort to make because the meat is not from the more elegant cut of the animal. However, this is what can make a pot roast more delectable because of the special seasonings used, the sometimes tender and time staking marinating and the always cautious cooking that it takes. The main trick of presenting a superior pot roast is to not overcook it, make sure about the heat used and to be able to spend quality time checking in on it. Here are several recipes I have always enjoyed in regards to the potting of the roast. PS—in regards to making your gravy, remember to thicken the liquid at the end of cooking by either using corn starch mixed with water (2 Tbsp. to 1/4 C. cold water for about 2 C. cooking liquid) and then whisk it slowly into the hot liquid; or if you don’t want to use corn starch, in a different skillet, melt some butter and then add some flour—whisk it till smooth and then stir in some of your hot liquid, a bit at a time. ( For the flour method the approximate correct measurements to use are the following: 1 ½ Tblsp. butter, 1 ½ Tblsp. flour to 1 to 1 ½ C. liquid.)
- 1. The Basic Pot Roast
- 1 (3-4 lb.) piece of chuck or rump roast (tied if necessary)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 or 2 garlic clove—peeled and chopped fine or slivered
- Sea Salt and Ground Pepper
- 2 or more Tblsp. unsalted butter
- 2 Tblsp. olive oil
- 3 Tblsp. chopped raw bacon in small pieces
- 3/4 to 1 chopped onion—rough chop
- 2 large peeled and chopped carrots in small slices
- 3 celery stalks chopped in small slices
- 1/2 C. chopped parsley-add at the end
- 2-3 Tblsp. flour to add to the veggies at end
- 1/2 C. wine
- 1 to 2 C. chicken, beef or vegetable stock-I like a good beef stock
- 3/4 Tsp. of your favorite dry blend of spices
- Optional: 3/4 warm sour cream
- Salt and pepper the roast and insert 1/2 of the garlic slivers as well as 3/4 of the bacon into several slits that you have made in the roast. ( For a different kind of roast, rub the meat with 1 Tblsp. of mild chili powder- if you like hot use cayenne.)
- Heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot that can be later lidded; brown the roast on all sides—take your time to do this and make sure the heat is not high. You do not want the fat to burn.
- Remove the meat to a side platter and in the oil/butter, still over medium high heat, brown the vegetables-stirring frequently. Stir them until softened and somewhat (not too much) browned—about 10 minutes. Add the parsley towards the end. Before adding the stock, add 2 to 3 Tblsp. flour to the vegetables and stir it till you can’t see any white of the flour left.
- Add about half the stock (and warm sour cream if you wish) and the red wine, your blended spices and return the roast to the pot, and turn the heat to very low however the liquid should be simmering at all times. (Save the other half of the stock to use if you find the stock disappearing). There should be at least 1/2 inch of liquid in the pot at all times.
- Here’s where you need to spend time with this recipe. Every 15 minutes or so, turn the meat—and cook it until it is fork tender which means that your fork will pierce the meat without pushing too hard and the juices will run clear—about 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours—but it may be longer if the roast is higher than it is long. A very thick roast can take as long as (sigh) 4 hours. (You can also bake a roast, covered, in a slow oven—300- 325 degrees—but you need to turn and look at it every 15 minutes just as if you cook it on top of your range. I prefer to do it stove top)
- If for some reason your roast seems to be dry (oh no) your heat has been probably too high. DO NOT OVER COOK THE ROAST. Believe me, when the meat is tender, it is done and remember, even when you remove it from the heat—it still will cook for 15 minutes or so.
- The Final Step: Remove the meat to a beautiful platter and keep it warm with some aluminum foil. Skim the fat (if any) from the juices in the pot and turn the heat to high. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan until the liquid is thick and almost evaporated. Adjust for seasonings.
- Serving: slice your meat and serve the juices on the side. Or if you wish, pour the juices over the meat.
- 2. Pot Roast with Tomatoes
Prepare and cook meat as above except:
- For the liquid, use 1 C. stock and 1 C. canned tomatoes. There should be about 1/2 inch of liquid in your pot.
- 3. Pot Roast with a Sour and Sweet Gravy
- When the roast has been set aside, in your stock, you can add 1 tsp. of sugar and 1 ½ Tblsp. lemon juice or vinegar.
- 4. Pot Roast with Cider
- Soak your meat for 12 hours in this marinade and also use this marinade in the stead of the liquids mentioned above and cook as in the basic recipe:
Cider Marinade Ingredients:
- 2 C. cider
- 2 small sliced onions
- 1/4 Tsp. ginger
- 3 cloves
- 1/4 Tsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tblsp. sugar
- 5. Spiced Pot Roast
Spiced Beef Marinade ingredients:
- Cider vinegar or dry wine
- 2 sliced onions
- 1/2 Bay leaf
- 1 Tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 Tsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. cloves
- 1 ½ Tsp. salt
- 1 Tsp. pepper
Vegetables to use for the last 1/2 hour of cooking
- 2 onions
- 4 large carrots
- 1 medium large turnip
- 1 stalk celery
- Marinade the roast in the above marinade for 12 hours or more.
- Take the meat out and place it in a roasting pan. (Save the marinade)
- Heat the following to a boiling point and pour it over the roast which you’ve placed in a pot that has a lid: 1/2 of the marinade and 2 C. water.
- Cover the pot and roast it in a slow over, 275 degrees, for 3 hours.
- Process the vegetables to a small grind and sauté in butter till golden brown. Add these ingredients to the roast for the last 1/2 hour of cooking.
- The sauce can be thickened with flour or corn starch.
- 6. Pot Roast with Cranberries
Follow rule for basic pot roast and substitute for the liquid water and after 1 hour of cooking, add 2 C. of raw cranberries and additional boiling water if needed.
- 7. Sauerbraten
- 3 lbs. roast
- Bacon which you have larded in the meat
- Pepper rubbed on meat
- Garlic inserted in slits made in meat
- Equal parts mild vinegar or white wine and water
- 1/2 C. sliced onion
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tsp. pepper corns
- 1/4 C. sugar
- For the very end, 1 C. sour cream or sweet cream
- Place prepared meat in a crock like pot
- Heat but DO NOT BOIL the ingredients e through i and while hot, pour over the meat.
- Place in refrigerator for at least 3 days but preferably 7 to 10 days.
Turn the meat once a day.
- When the meat is well marinated, take it out and place it in a pot.
- Use the vinegar mixture in place of the stock.
- Cook as in the basic recipe and when the meat is tender, remove it from the pot.
- Thicken the gravy with flour and add 1 C. sweet cream or sour cream
Any of these recipes are delicious served with potato dumplings, noodles and a hearty red wine.