Pot Roast is how you feed a crowd something comforting and succulent without spending a fortune. Cooked slowly, ignored really, an inexpensive and tough cut of meat is transformed into a silky mess in a pot of gravy. And that is really the key, time. There is no trick, really, just some basic preparation. It is the time that turns the sow’s ear into a silk purse.
Somewhere along the line I realized that the only long term value of a recipe blog is to make darned sure that I posted every recipe that I thought I or my son or daughter, or my grandchildren, or my great grandchildren might need someday. When I stop this one day, I want to take a day to actually write the recipes down on index cards so they can wear with time and get dripped on and obtain the status of a dog eared, messy, timeless favorite…for someone. A real recipe…not a cyber-flash-dinner-in-a-minute-grab-the-iPad-and-find-something-emergency-idea. I want to leave something that actually connects me to my descendants. Funny, there is nothing permanent about a web presence unless you have posted inappropriate content that will come back to haunt you. This is why I hold tight to my hand written index card recipes from mom, and aunts and great aunts. And this is why I still buy piles of cookbooks. They are real in a way that web recipes cannot be. It is strange to think that if I pushed the wrong button…all of these recipes would be gone in a flash. But if I wrote them with my hand, turned them from bits and bytes into something tangible…bites that could last.
I don’t throw the carrots and potatoes in my pot roast anymore. I make the meat all about the meat, and then I roast carrots and potatoes to serve alongside. This helps immeasurably with the timing. Here is the issue. Meat is ready when it is ready and not a moment sooner. If you try to game the timing and toss in a bunch of cold vegetables, you begin a race against time…will the meat be done in time? Will the vegetables turn to mush? So, I just eliminate that issue altogether and I cook the vegetables separately and cover them with gravy on the plate. I think roasted vegetables are richer anyway. So, you may deal with your vegetables as you please. I do it a little different every time.
Recipe for Pot Roast (serves 4)
4½ pound 7 bone pot roast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large white onion, quartered
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 (15 ounce) can low sodium chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can low sodium beef broth
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Season the roast on both sides with salt and pepper. Place a large, oven-safe pot on the stovetop and heat it over medium heat. Add the olive oil and place the roast in the pot to sear. Sear it on both sides until it is nicely browned.
2. Place the chopped onion, tomatoes, and thyme around and on top of the roast. Add the cans of broth. The broth should just come to the top of the roast. Place the lid on the pot and place it into the oven.
3. Allow the roast to cook undisturbed for 5 hours. Check the roast for doneness by removing the pot from the oven and piercing the roast with a fork. The fork should sink easily into the meat. If it does not, allow the roast to continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes and check for doneness again.
4. When the roast is tender, remove the meat to a plate with a slotted spoon and discard the bone and excess fat. In a small bowl, whisk the flour together with about ¾ cup of the gravy from the pot roast to create a slurry. Mix the slurry back into the pot of gravy. Simmer the gravy until it has thickened. Season as needed with additional salt and pepper. Ladle gravy over the pot roast on the serving platter. Or, simply return the roast to the pot if you are not ready to serve.
Note: The “7” bone roast is called such because of the shape of the bone in the cut, not because there are seven bones. Is is a “chuck” roast that comes from the shoulder area and has a nice texture and good flavor after it has been braising for an extended period. Also, If your gravy evaporates while cooking, you can always add a little more chicken or beef broth.
Carrots and potatoes which have been cut into chunks can be roasted in a baking dish at 425 degrees until they are cooked through. You may certainly add these to the pot, or serve them separately alongside the roast.