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
- 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
- Place oven rack in lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Pat chuck roast dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over all sides.
- 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.
- Add carrots and onions to dutch oven, brown 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste and allow to cook for 1 minute.
- 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.
- 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.
- Transfer roast to cutting board and remove vegetables from dutch oven with slotted spoon. Remove the herb stems and discard.
- 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.
- Slice and/or shred beef. Transfer beef and vegetables to serving platter. Pour gravy into serving vessel. Serve and enjoy!