Pot Roast with Beef

I make pot roast infrequently because I can’t seem to make it come out fantastic. Because I can’t seem to conquer this dish I decided to read a book about meat, it has to be that I am choosing the wrong cut of meat and not that I am lacking in skills.

Last Christmas I was gifted Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book and I learned about steaks and lamb and got some excellent grilling ideas so I figured I would start there. On a side note, this is probably the best book in my collection and if you are a carnivore you should also pause reading this and go to Amazon and get yourself an early holiday gift!

According to what I have deemed “the meat bible” I am using the wrong meat. I get the Boneless Chuck Roast that comes from the bottom end of the shoulder and it is very difficult to make it both tender and flavorful. They also say that when I choose the Rump Roast or the Top Round I need to slice it thin so that it isn’t chewy.  What I need to be using is also boneless but the cut comes from inside the ribs instead of outside and is called Chuck Eye Roast or Top Blade Roast.They also say that this superior cut needs to be taken apart at it’s seam, de-fatted and trussed back together. I rolled my eyes hard at this as I do not appreciate frippery. I totally appreciate that any extra love adds more flavor but really who has kitchen twine just hanging out? Am I the only one who doesn’t have twine hanging out? Whatever, I still rolled my eyes.

While I am learning about the meat I may as well get a recipe and they offer eight. Not all of them are what I am looking for but how cool to not just tell me why this is the cut of meat that I want but here is the recipe that you asked for and a few variations.  Every recipe offers a chance to learn, maybe it is the oven temperature or new spices or a new technique like trussing or trimming.

Ooooohh, this recipe is different than how I make mine!! New stuff excites me. I will start with the tips and tricks section, it is brilliant so hold on to your coffee.

*Cook until done and then some.

This is exciting because I am always worried that my meat will be too dry but they account for this by covering the pot with foil before putting the lid on! So they cook the 4 1/2- 5 pound roast for 3 1/2 – 4 hours at 300 degrees for an internal temperature of 210 degrees. The cooking is done in a Dutch oven so that it is a one pot cook and they don’t sear the meat before the roasting begins. I say that like I know what I am talking about, I make my roast in the Crock Pot so there is no searing happening there either but I just thought I was being lazy.

*Reduce, Reduce, Reduce

Instead of thickening their sauce with the cornstarch slurry; they say that makes the sauce more gravy like than sauce like; they remove the meat and veg  from the pot and let the juice simmer down while the meat is resting.

Keeping these new things in mind the recipe for Classic Pot Roast is:

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pound boneless chuck eye roast, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 onions halved and sliced thin
  • 1 large carrot peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 2-3 cups beef broth
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of fresh time plus 1/4 tsp chopped
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


1. Separate the meat along the fat seam and cut the biggest parts of the fat off. You want to leave a little for juice and flavor and love while it cooks. Season the 2 halves of the roast with salt and leave them to stand on a baking rack set over a baking sheet to catch any juice at room temp for about an hour.

2. While the oven preheats to 300 get your dutch oven on a medium heat and get the butter melting. Add the onions first and let them cook down for about 10 minutes, next is the carrot and celery and give that about 5 minutes, last is the garlic and that won’t need but 30 or 45 seconds. To this mix of yum add 1 cup of the broth, 1/2 cup of the wine, tomato paste, bay leaf and the thyme and bring this up to a simmer.

3. Pat the meat dry with some paper towels or a tea towel and season it with ground pepper and tie the meat back together into one roast with the fat sides touching, just like it was. 3 strings are recommended but 4 or 5 would be OK too.

4. Nestle-how cozy that sounds!-the meat on top of the veg and cover the pot with aluminum foil, don’t get it so tight that the lid won’t go on easily, the point is to get it as tight as possible to keep all the steam in the pot! Cook the meat for the 3 1/2 to 4 hours turning the meat halfway thru, so at about 1 hour 45 minutes. You will know your roast is done when a fork can go all the way from the top of the roast to the bottom with no resistance.

5.  Once the meat has reached the desired level of forkiness  take it out of the roasting pan and put it in something that has a bit of a lip but that you don’t mind slicing on and cover it with foil. Now this next bit is going to be word for word because its a bit futzy but that seems to be the theme of this recipe.

  • Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a 4 cup measuring cup.
  • Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig
  • Transfer veg to a blender
  • Let liquid settle for 5 minutes then skim the fat; add broth to bring the liquid amount to 3 cups. Add liquid to blender and process until smooth.
  • Transfer sauce to medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

This seems like a very long way to say: Pour the cooking liquid into your fat separator and pour it off into a blender with the required amount of broth, wine and vinegar and process until sexy and then get it on a simmer. It is already cooked so the simmer is just to heat and get a little more thickness

6. Meanwhile, remove twine from roasts and slice against the grain into 1/2 inch slices and transfer to a serving platter. Stir remaining wine, chopped thyme and balsamic vinegar to the gravy and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon half the gravy over the meat and reserve the other half for passing.

What about the taters and carrots that really make the meal? Well, they are mentioned separate along with a bit for a mushroom and prune gravy,

Root Veg: Add 1 pound each of parsnips and carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces, 1 1/2 pound russet potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, each half quartered to the pot after 3 hours of cooking. This gives the veg 30 minutes to an hour, base this on how much bite you like, if you like a softer bite then give the veg an hour and this means checking your meat at 2 1/2 hours of cooking and if you like them a bit more firm the 30 minutes should be just fine.

Mushroom and Prune Gravy: Substitute 1/2 cup dark beer for the wine in step 2. Add 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms that have been rinsed and soaked for 1 hour and drained, and 1/2 cup pitted prunes with broth and beer. While roast is resting, sautee 1 pound thinly sliced cremini mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter until softened and slightly browned and add to finished gravy along with 1/4 cup dark beer instead of the balsamic in step 6.

I don’t care for prunes but cranberries or apricots or cherries would be lovely with the mushroom. With it just being 1/2 cup of the fruit to 3 cups of broth they should just be a nice background note. And about the mushrooms. The suggested ones are very hearty and full of flavor but if you can’t find dried porcinis a canned variety would be close, if you use button mushrooms I might add half again as many and maybe a little bit of mushroom powder or the bullion/soup base stuff. And if you can’t find mushroom powder locally myspicesage.com or thespicehouse.com have excellent products and I think they both offer free shipping.

I was finally able to find the cut of meat that I need as well as twine so tomorrow (Friday) night we will be eating fancy new style pot roast. I have some mushrooms so I might throw those in with the carrots and stuff or maybe closer to the end of the cook so they are still a bit firm. So the next post will be about how successful I am at finally reaching my dream of pot roast the I want to feed my Mom!

Wish me luck! I wish ya’ll luck! Happy Cooking!

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