‘Tis The Season For Pot Roast

Pot roast is an American classic. But it’s not just American. You can find pot roast in some form in many countries, especially Northern European areas of Britain and Germany. In the U.S. we have Yankee Pot Roast, which adds carrots, onions, potatoes and celery to the braise. But in Germany, you have Sauerbraten which is marinated and usually cooked with cabbage, spatzle, potatoes or noodles in a vinegar-heavy mix. There is also a common Japanese version called nikujaga.

In Yankee pot roast, the cut is usually beef chuck, which comes from the upper front part of the cow, where we would say the shoulder is. But you can also make pot roast from the rump cut or from venison, lamb, mutton or pork.

There are two basic steps to pot roast. First, the meat is browned in a hot pan. This caramelizes the sugars on the surface of the meat, adding a lot of color and flavor to the dish. The second part is called braising, cooking slowly over a low heat in a flavorful liquid. Braising is perfect for tougher, cheaper cuts of meat because the low-and-slow cooking tenderizes it to a “fall off your fork” texture.

That means the slow cooker is ideal for making pot roast. If you don’t have a slow cooker, a dutch oven or similar deep dish with a lid that can go in the oven will do. But the slow cooker is more energy efficient and easy to use. However, if you use a slow cooker, you will still need a large skillet, preferably cast iron, to brown the meat before it goes into the machine.

So, here is my recipe for an easy Pot Roast Dinner, consisting of chuck roast with root vegetables, gravy made from the cooking liquid and baking mix biscuits. You can vary the ingredients to your personal taste, adding other vegetables, various liquids and spices. Take this recipe and make it your own.

Pot Roast Ingredients:

  • 3 – 4 lbs. Chuck or Rump roast.
  • pinch Kosher salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 packet dry onion soup mix. I use this as a seasoning only. It’s very high in salt, but it won’t make the roast too salty, as long as you’re sparing with any additional salt. You can also use a couple beef bouillon cubes.
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 – 4 carrots, chopped to bite size pieces
  • 1 small to medium (1″ – 1-1/2″ diameter) onion, chopped into bite size pieces.
  • 4 medium potatoes, quartered or chopped into 1/2″ pieces depending on size and shape.
  • 1 large or 2 medium stalks celery, roughly chopped.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Gravy Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roast cooking liquid
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

Biscuit Ingredients:

See the Fluffy Biscuits recipe in our recipe section.

Directions:

  1. Rinse and pat dry your roast. Allow it to sit and dry while you combine the dry soup mix and the hot water. Heat your skillet over medium high heat. Lightly salt and pepper the top side of the beef. Put that side down in the hot skillet and then add a little salt and pepper to the other side.
  2. Brown the meat on all sides, about a minute or two per side, just enough to get some browning. Then transfer to the slow cooker crock. Turn the slow cooker on high. Don’t clean up the skillet, just set it aside for making the gravy, complete with all the brown bits in the bottom.
  3. If you don’t have a slow cooker, place the meat is a covered casserole dish and preheat the oven to 325.
  4. Top the meat with the water-dry soup mix and then the minced garlic. Add the carrots, potatoes and celery. You can add other vegetables like a chopped bell pepper if you like. Cover with the cooker’s lid.
  5. After one hour, turn the heat to low and allow it to cook for six to eight hours or until the vegetables are fork tender.
  6. If using a regular oven, bake covered for about three hours at 325.
  7. Carefully remove the meat to a serving dish and cover with foil. Use a slotted spoon to remove as many of the vegetables as you can to another serving dish. Add the remaining liquid to the skillet and up over medium high heat. Use a whisk to scrape up all the brown bits in the bottom of the pan.
  8. Bring the liquid to a boil and slowly whisk in the flour, adding a few sprinkles at a time. Stir until the flour is absorbed and the liquid begins to thicken. Add vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, oregano and seasoning. Taste for salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
  9. Preheat oven to 450. In a mixing bowl, combine baking mix and milk and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto floured surface and knead a few times to bring the dough together. Pat or roll into a half-inch thickness. Use a clean opened can, biscuit cutter or water glass, dipped in flour, to cut out biscuits and place side by side in ungreased pan. Bake for about 9 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Cut meat into serving size pieces. Dinner’s ready!

Use the gravy to top everything on the plate, including the biscuits.  This is an easy, filling meal.

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