Classic Pot Roast

Classic Pot Roast

Pot roast is the definition of comfort food for me. Nothing gives me the warm and fuzzies the way a fall apart tender roast does. The aroma of a pot roast slowly simmering away transports me to the wintry Sunday afternoons of my childhood. My mom in the kitchen, my dad in front of the fire watching football, my sister and I working on homework and sneaking a nap. On days when a pot roast is in the oven, I can close my eyes, inhale, and time just vanishes. I’m home. That’s part of what makes a dish like this so comforting, isn’t it? The familiarity, the echo of a feeling of being cared for. I love that every time I prepare this dish, I can feel the warmth that permeated our home on those cold winter days.

Of course, an equally important criteria for comfort food is that it be delicious. Warm memories will fall flat in the face of a disappointing dinner. Too often, pot roast can wind up a little lackluster- tough meat and watery, flavorless gravy. I want a dish that can live up to the high standard of my memory. Fortunately, this recipe is a home run in that regard. It is simple, smells divine and, most importantly, is so, so tasty. The beef is flavorful, juicy and tender. The vegetables are caramelized and velvety. And the gravy is rich, smooth and so quick to come together.

There are few secrets that make this classic pot roast so phenomenal. A trio of flavorful, umami-boosting ingredients really enhance the beefy flavor. Tomato paste is caramelized until sweet and brown. Balsamic vinegar adds a wonderful acidity and soy sauce brings a meaty depth of flavor. The roast is cooked at a relatively low temperature for a long time, giving the meat plenty of time to bend to our will and shred easily.

The silky, savory gravy is ridiculously easy to whip up, thanks to a beurre manie. Fancy name, easy technique. Simply mash together equal parts softened butter and flour until a smooth paste forms. Once the roast is done, remove the meat and vegetables from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon. Whisk the beurre manie into the liquid and, voila, luxuriously lump free gravy in an instant.

Cold, bleak winter days so often leave us seeking comfort.  Find it in the kitchen with this classic recipe and relish the warm memories it will evoke, and those it will create.

Classic Pot Roast

Classic Pot Roast

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2.5 lb chuck roast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 medium onions, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  1. Place oven rack in lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Pat chuck roast dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over all sides.
  3. In medium size dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Brown roast on all sides, about 6-8 minutes total. Remove roast from pot to a plate.
  4. Add carrots and onions to dutch oven, brown 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste and allow to cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add beef broth, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce to dutch oven and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return roast to the dutch oven. Add rosemary and thyme.
  6. Cover dutch oven and transfer to oven. Cook for 3 hours, turning roast once halfway through cooking. Roast is done when it falls apart easily.
  7. Transfer roast to cutting board and remove vegetables from dutch oven with slotted spoon. Remove the herb stems and discard.
  8. In small bowl, mash together butter and flour until they make a smooth paste. Stir butter/flour mixture into the liquid remaining in dutch oven until incorporated.
  9. Slice and/or shred beef. Transfer beef and vegetables to serving platter. Pour gravy into serving vessel. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 4

Classic Pot Roast

Fool-Proof Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter

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Is there anything worse than shelling out big bucks for a fancy cut of meat, or any ingredient for that matter, only to ruin it by over or under cooking it? I think not. Right after Justin and I got married, we had his parents, sister and her husband-to-be over for dinner at our house. Determined to impress, we bought fancy, expensive filet mignon. I made awesome mashed potatoes, decadent creamed spinach and a killer cheese tray. Everything was going off without a hitch until the time came to cook the steaks. Since steaks cannot be cooked ahead of time, I had an audience. I got out my sparkling, new-off-the-registry All-Clad sauté pan, melted some butter and threw the steaks in. Reader, things did not go well. The pan was way too hot and the outside of the steaks started to burn before the interiors could cook. Somehow oil splattered from the pan on to the stove-top and CAUGHT FIRE. The smoke alarm sounded. My poor cat freaked the eff out. And I was humiliated. My in-laws were incredibly gracious and pretended not to notice. They deserve an Academy Award. Eventually we ate and everything was fine, but it certainly was not the impression of domestic tranquility I had hoped to impart. I’ve come a long way, baby.

I have  since arrived upon a fool-proof method for cooking steaks. No more smoke alarms, no more fires, no more embarrassment at dinner parties. Only juicy, succulent, perfectly cooked steaks every time. This is the kind of simple kitchen hack that makes you look like a rock-star without breaking a sweat. Leave it to the geniuses at America’s Test Kitchen to take the heat off us home cooks.  Steaks are placed on a baking rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet and cooked in a low oven for 20-40 minutes, depending on desired doneness (please don’t cook these to well done- ahem, Mom!) The low oven evenly cooks the steaks, so that the interiors come up to temperature without burning the outsides. Placing the steaks on the baking rack ensures that air circulates around the steaks, which means that the exteriors stay dry and don’t steam. Then the steaks are seared in a hot skillet, giving them a lovely, flavorful crust, sans flames. This method works perfectly, whether you’re cooking 1 steak or 8.

The steaks alone are divine, but while we’re serving filet mignon, why not gild the lily a bit? Enter blue cheese butter. This stuff is dangerous. Just as delicious on bread- or a spoon- as melted on top of a savory steak. Luscious, tangy blue cheese is mixed into softened butter, spiked with hot sauce. Don’t be afraid of the hot sauce here. There is plentiful creamy, dairy goodness to temper the heat. A tender, juicy steak topped with this blue cheese butter rivals what you will be served at any steakhouse and at a fraction of the price. Which means you can entertain *impressively* way more frequently. No smoke alarms necessary.

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Fool-Proof Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter

Recipe can be scaled to the number of steaks  you plan to cook

Ingredients (Steaks):

  • 4 filet mignon steaks, about 1- 1 1/4 inch thick (approx. 8 oz each)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

Instructions (Steaks):

20 minutes before you plan to cook the steaks, remove them from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 275. Place a baking rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place steaks on baking rack and put baking sheet in oven. Cook as follows for desired doneness:

  • 20-25 minutes for medium rare (90-95 degrees from oven)
  • 25-30 minutes for medium (100-105 degrees from oven)
  • 30-35 minutes for medium well (110-115 degrees from oven
  • well done: just cook a hot dog

Once steaks have reached desired temperature in oven, remove steaks from oven. Have butter and oil pre-heated over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed skillet (such as cast iron.) Sear steaks in skillet for about 2 minutes per side. Once steaks have seared, remove from skillet and place back on baking rack, covering them loosely with foil to allow them to rest. Rest steaks for 10  minutes before serving. Top steaks with blue cheese butter, if desired, and parsley.

Blue Cheese Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
  • 4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together in small bowl. Top steaks with butter as desired, about 1-2 Tbsp per steak. This is also spectacular on bread or crostini.

Method for cooking steaks adapted from America’s Test Kitchen