Ah, pot roast. Few thinks provoke a rash of tears like me telling my kids we are having pot roast for dinner. Actual tears. “No, no pot roast!! Sob!” My husband and I are completely stumped. We eat it, it tastes really, really good. They won’t touch it.
When I was a child, I remember the tears that pot roast bought to me, but my tears were different (GET OFF MY LAWN!! Sorry, I feel compelled to say that when I sound like a old coot). My mother made “pot roast”. The roast went in a lovely shade of red and came out gray with a nice black bark on top. She served it with gravy. The gravy made is edible and helped the tough swallow factor. That was pot roast. Who wouldn’t cry?
One night, when I was in high school, I went to my friend’s house for dinner. When Mrs. Gordon brought out her pot roast, it was moist and glistening with a wonderful pink center. It was beefy tasting and really good. You didn’t need gravy. When I asked her what it was, she laughed and said “pot roast”. No, it wasn’t. Not the kind I knew. I came home and told my mom that one could make pot roast that wasn’t gray. I’m sure she appreciated that. Anyway, she now does a much better pot roast. The key is not only the “pot”, but the lid.
I’ve tried pot roast in a slow cooker and, while it’s close to being good, that’s about all I can say. When you make it with a dutch oven, it’s just better. Tough pieces of meat like chuck roast need long, moist cooking time. When they get it, the results are silky, tender, and sublime.
Also, and I can’t really emphasize this enough, when you order your cow by the “half side”, you get lots of roasts. Lots of them. Sure you tell them “maximum ground beef”. Doesn’t matter. Roasts are plentiful. Necessity is the mother of invention. I couldn’t have a roast with potatoes, carrots and onions again. Seriously, couldn’t. So tired of it. As I have to kid friendly a bunch of my meals, since they won’t eat the pot roast anyway, I went all out adult on this recipe. Every non-kid friendly ingredient I used it. Wine? Check? Lots and lots of onions? Check. Rosemary? Check. Hitting all the high marks!
Pot roast isn’t about measurements. I’ll try my best, but if I say a 4 lb chuck roast and you have a 3 pound one, don’t sweat it. This is definitely a “close enough” recipe.
Onion and Wine Braised Chuck Roast
2-3 tablespoons of high temperature cooking fat (lard, bacon drippings, vegetable oil, etc.)
1 chuck roast (3-4 pounds)
Salt and Pepper
4-5 medium onions, sliced in half rings
2 tablespoons garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups red wine (I used a cabernet sauvignon)
1 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a dutch oven (I used my trusty 5 quart), heat cooking fat over medium high heat until hot. Salt and pepper the roast and sear on both sides in the dutch oven until each side is browned. Remove and set aside.
Lower the heat to medium low. Place the onions in the dutch oven and stir. Salt and pepper the onions (I used around a teaspoon of each). Try to use the liquid of the onions to draw the lovely bits of brown seared roast off the bottom of the pan. Caramelize the onions, or wilt them until they turn a light brown. This will take a long time and require patience and semi-regular stirring. You may need to add more fat if you find that the onions are sticking. You also may need to turn down the heat if they are burning. Just as the onions are reaching the light brown stage, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Cook for 2 minutes more. Add the tomato paste and cook until you can smell a slightly tomato-y smell (about a minute or so).
Add the red wine and stir well, and add the water. Simmer for a bit to get the ingredients married. Return the roast to the pan. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until the roast is tender.
I served this with sautéed brussels sprouts. I halved the brussels sprouts and sautéed in bacon grease until caramelized. Finished with salt and pepper. Awesomely good.