Originally posted 1/22/2014: I realize I have been posting a lot of “basic” recipes lately—something for which I am completely unapologetic. Meatballs, cookies, muffins: while they may be ordinary, normal, everyday recipes, this is the kind of food I cook this time of year—the kind of food I crave this time of year—always, really. Every once in awhile I get carried away and make some wild recipe I’ve been dying to try, but for the most part, I make pretty homey, comforting, familiar food. Craveable food. So, when I woke up on the first day of my “spring” semester to a winter storm warning, my kids’ school already canceled, and mine closing early enough that I made the decision to stay safely at home with my kids, I decided pot roast was the only logical answer. When in doubt, make pot roast. That’s my theory. Or motto? Either way, it’s always a good choice.
Pot roast: such a terrible name for such a delicious thing. It takes like 10-20 minutes to prep, then you forget about it for hours! And it’s unbelievably inexpensive. This is probably my son’s favorite meal. He requested this and my Potato Gratin (AKA “those good cheesy potatoes”) for his birthday dinner two years in a row.
A few notes on the way I make mine:
Yes, you will find coffee in the ingredient list. I started adding coffee to my roasts at some point, and if I have some leftover in the coffee pot, I use it. If not, I don’t. I have this distant, hazy memory of my dad making a stewed rabbit dish with coffee when I was a little girl and it was so delicious. Your roast won’t taste like coffee, but it adds something—a darkness and depth to the sauce that is really special. It also gives the roast (along with the searing) a dramatic, super-dark color on the outside.
Also, the wine is optional, but again it adds something, an acidity that I think you’d miss if you left it out. You can use red or white, or none at all, but maybe add a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar to the cooking liquid. Once I used a Guinness beer that we had lingering in the fridge and it was so good. Surprisingly good. Heck, I’ve even used marsala in a pinch. Anyway, alcoholic beverages are optional, liquid is not. Whatever you choose, make sure you have a total of 4 cups liquid.
I also don’t add veggies to mine. I don’t love the texture of them after they cook for so long, and for me, it’s all about the beef and not at all about the mushy carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes. I prefer to make a separate, fresh vegetable to serve on the side. I used to always make it with peas and or corn, but as my kids have grown, I find I make it with more grown up veggies. I love to serve it with mushrooms, cooked in butter, broth, and wine, until the liquid evaporates and they become almost glazed. Give the same treatment to some beautiful pinkish-lavender shallots and you have an updated, super elegant, Frenchified classic.
Serve it with mashed potatoes, egg noodles, creamy polenta, rice, or some good crusty bread. You have to have something to soak up that flavorful sauce.
Speaking of the sauce, if you want to thicken it and make it more gravy-like, a recipe follows. This step is optional, and completely a matter of personal preference. (I love gravy).
***Post updated 10/27/2019 with new photos, updated recipe card, and updated SEO and other behind-the-blog-scenes mumbo jumbo.
Hi Guys! Wow, this post is from 2014! That’s nuts. Also nuts, I still make this recipe and we haven’t gotten sick of it. It is still one of my son Aidan’s (now 16 years old) top requested meals.
The past several times I’ve made it I’ve used the most beautiful, bone-in chuck roasts from my friends at Hayfield Farm. In case you missed the Beef and Barley Soup, go check it out. Perfect fall/winter comfort food.
Also, as you can see in the photos, I used the Virginia’s Heritage Blend that the folks at Virginia Wine sent to me in celebration of Virginia Wine Month. With the craziness of this month, I didn’t get around to hosting a Harvest Party, but I certainly celebrated Virginia’s bounty in this recipe by using Hayfield Farm’s beef and this beautiful wine.
I hope you’ll give this one a try, I’ve gotten rave reviews over the years from friends and family who have made it. Let me know if you do, and make sure to Pin the recipe for later by clicking on any of the images in this post.
Simple and perfect, this pot roast is all about the beef and the dark, flavorful gravy. Give this recipe a try and see why it is a favorite among my family and friends.
- 2 1.5 lb chuck roasts (or one big 3–4 lb roast)
- 2 1/2 cups beef broth
- 1 cup wine, beer, or about 1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
- ½ cup brewed coffee (optional)
- plenty of salt and pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 whole garlic cloves
For Beurre manié (a fancy French term for flour and butter mashed together to thicken the sauce):
- 2 tablespoons soft butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
Preheat oven to 300.
Season beef generously with salt and pepper and a drizzle of vegetable oil. Heat a heavy bottomed pan until it’s very hot. (you also might want to throw open the doors and windows and turn on your exhaust fan)
Add beef and allow to get very brown before flipping and browning other side. When I’m using two roasts, I do this in batches. Don’t overcrowd the pan or you won’t get a good, hard sear.
Remove meat to a plate and pour off any excess fat from the pan. Add liquids, bay leaves, garlic cloves and bring to a boil. Return meat and any juices to pot and place in oven. Cook, partially covered for 4-5 hours until meat is extremely tender.
Carefully remove meat to a platter, and skim off as much fat as you can from the liquid in the pot. (if you have a fat separator/gravy separator contraption, now is a good time to use it!)
If you want to thicken the sauce, place pot over medium heat, mash together the butter and flour on a small plate or in a small bowl and whisk the paste into the boiling liquid. Allow to bubble until it reaches your desired thickness, a few minutes is usually sufficient. Taste for seasoning. I never add extra salt, between the saltiness of the stock, and the salt on the beef I find it’s not necessary, but just check. Add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
Before adding meat back to sauce, remove any large chunks of fat, and break meat up a bit. I don’t like to shred it, but feel free to shred if that’s what you like. I prefer to break it into fairly large pieces.
Serve with mashed potatoes, polenta, egg noodles, or just some good crusty bread and any veggie of your choice.
Peas and corn are always a hit around here. Also, mushrooms cooked in butter and wine are always a good choice.
Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
Keywords: pot roast, beef, dinner
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