Beef Pot Roast a.k.a. Comfort Food

Beef Pot Roast

Pot Roast, Beef Burgundy, Beef Bourguignon, and Sunday Roast are different names for the same thing—comfort food. Tender beef resting in rich beef gravy that tops potatoes like none other. What began as a French peasant dish became a dinnertime staple in America, welcoming cooler weather with aroma that promises a hearty meal.

The movie Julie & Julia brought new attention to mastering technique as an investment in everyday meals. Home cooks have tried to simplify this classic with soup mix or the throw-it-all-in-a-pot approach that does not compare in flavor or texture. A crock pot or an oven is suitable for slow roasting; just don’t skip browning the meat properly. Browning the meat is the key to developing its deep, beefy flavor necessary for sumptuous gravy. In this recipe the meat is trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch chunks, allowing for more browned surface area and efficient cooking time.

Choice variations including mushrooms, pearl onions, wine selection, or cut of meat are easily substituted based on personal preference. Our family prefers sweet yellow onions, crimini mushrooms, hearty red wine, fingerling potatoes and a well-marbled chuck roast. Timing the vegetables is also important to ensure the potatoes and carrots are fork-tender, not mushy.

Some eat pot roast for the tender meat it renders others say it’s for the gravy. This recipe is sure to satisfy either opinion.

Beef Pot Roast
Serves: 5
Start to Finish time: 4 hours

3-4 lb boneless chuck roast, cut in 2-3 inch pieces
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium yellow sweet onion, chopped or sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped
3 large carrot, peeled and cut lengthwise
5 medium potatoes, cubed or 12-15 fingerling potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced thick
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef bouillon, 3 cubes in 2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 whole bay leaf
1 tablespoon Paul Prudhomme Meat Magic

saute the onion, celery

Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare vegetables first by coarsely chopping onion, celery, and garlic. Carrots can be cut into 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ pieces and potatoes into 1 1/2″ cubes in order to cook more quickly. Cut meat into 2-3 inch pieces and dry all sides with paper towels. Meat will not brown well if it is damp. Mix salt, pepper, thyme, and Meat Magic in a small bowl.

browned beef on top of the caramelized onions and garlic

Use an oven safe covered pot, such as a Dutch oven, just large enough to hold roast and vegetables. Heat 2 tbsp of oil over med-high heat (hot enough to sear the meat). Brown roast pieces several minutes on each side until well browned. Set browned meat aside on a platter and sprinkle with spice mix.

Add celery and chopped onion to the pan to soften and caramelize, about 5 minutes or until light golden brown (additional oil can be added if the pan is too dry), add the garlic at the end of the caramelizing process.

ready for the oven

Return the roast to the pot, including any juices that accumulated on the platter; let rest on top of the onions.

Add the bay leaf, tomato paste, wine, and enough of the beef stock to barely cover the meat.  Cover and bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Once simmering, remove from the stove and place the pot in the lower third of a preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours, or until meat is tender and a fork pierces it easily.

adding the carrots and potatoes

During the last hour of cooking time, add the carrots and potatoes. Cover and return to the oven to cook until tender, about 45 minutes. While the potatoes and carrots are cooking, prepare and sauté mushrooms in a large skillet in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until browned. Work in small batches if needed to be sure the mushrooms brown well. Return all mushrooms to skillet and set aside until roast is done.

adding the meat to the skillet with the mushrooms

Once done, remove potatoes and carrots from the pot to a serving bowl, add butter to the top and cover with a lid. Place roasted meat in the skillet with mushrooms.

Strain the remaining contents of the pot to capture the liquid for gravy. Once strained, skim the top to remove fat or use a fat separator. If the juices are too thin, reduce in a sauce pan, boiling rapidly, until it lightly coats a spoon. If desired, gravy can be thickened with a teaspoon of cornstarch. Once the desired thickness is reached, add gravy to the skillet with the meat and mushrooms; let simmer uncovered 2-3 minutes while basting the meat. Salt and pepper as needed.

gravy is added to the meat and mushrooms; ready to serve

Serve the buttered potatoes and carrots on the side or arrange them on a large platter with the meat for family-style dining.

Serving Ideas: Serve with French green beans and hot dinner rolls.

Judy Purcell on Foodista


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