A Roast in Every Pot
Thursday, December 2, 2010
So in May of this year I was suddenly possessed by the desire to cook pot roast. I have no idea why. I’ve never made a pot roast in my life and as I recall, pot roast was one of my least favorite dinners growing up.
But I started thinking about it and it was one of those things where once I started thinking about it, it seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea. There’s a recipe in Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham that looked easy and then I happened to find myself at King’s and they happened to have a nice looking chuck roast for not that much (I don’t actually remember how much it was, just that it was less than it seemed like I would have thought it would be) so I got it.
But it was the end of April and all of a sudden it got really, really hot. And I’m not going to make pot roast when it’s really hot, you have to make pot roast in the winter, it’s one of those things you eat to warm you up. You don’t make it in late spring in North Carolina. And then I woke up from this pot roast dream and was like wait what was I thinking? Cooking meat is a mess, I don’t need four pounds of beef in my house, and I don’t even like pot roast. And it’s a thousand degrees.
So I put the chuck roast in the freezer to be dealt with later.
And later happens to be now, because my freezer is so packed right now I can’t even find things in it, and I decided I need to start getting rid of things before I can put anything new in there. And the four pounds of chuck roast ended up first on the list of things to get rid of.
So earlier in the week I was again trying to figure out what I was thinking with the pot roast idea, because it’s not like you get a little bit of food when you make a pot roast, it’s not like making scrambled eggs or something, you eat it then you’re done. And I’m talking to some friends and ask if they want pot roast, I’m going to make it and I know I’ll have some left over because I have this giant piece of meat. They’re like sure, we’d love pot roast.
So I make the pot roast and it was SO GOOD. Holy cow it was really good.
It was so good that I don’t really want to give any away. And now I feel like a bad person for offering food to people and then wanting to keep it for myself because it was better than I thought it would be. Doesn’t that sound horrible? I know I said I’d give you some food but I thought it would be bad but it turned out that it was actually good so I’m just going to keep it for myself. So sorry.
And it didn’t actually make as much as I thought it would. (I didn’t make the full recipe, just used the one potato I had along with a few carrots and an onion.) Or maybe I was really hungry or something and I ate a lot. (I actually did have a problem when I was looking at it, that I was like how do I know how much to eat? Usually I make two or three servings, so I eat half one night and half the next. How much is a serving of pot roast? How do you know?)
So anyway, I think I’m going to have to suck it up and give it away, because I said I would, and I don’t know if this qualifies as a cheap recipe, and it’s definitely not healthy, but I’m giving it to you anyway because it’s pretty simple (and is presented in exacting detail for anyone like me with limited pot roast experience) and was really good. And you get a lot of gravy, which you can eat with rice and noodles after the meat is gone. And it will warm you up, and the weather is cold, so it seems like a good idea.
Pot Roast with Vegetables and Gravy
from Learning to Cook with Marion Cunnigham
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
4 to 5 pounds beef chuck roast, with or without bones
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water, or more
3 bay leaves
3 medium-size yellow onions
5 medium-size russet potatoes
1/4 cup all-purpose white flour
1 cup water
Cooking liquid from the pot roast
salt and pepper to taste
Browning the Roast
Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper on all sides of the meat.
Pour the vegetable oil into a large heavy-bottomed pot, one with a lid, and tilt it around so the oil coats the bottom. Set the pot over medium-high heat and let the oil get hot. To test, hold the palm of your hand about an inch above the oil, and if it feels very warm, the oil is hot enough. Set the meat gently in the pot and turn the heat down to medium.
After about 5 minutes of browning the roast on one side, lift it with a fork and check to see if it has turned a rich brown color on the bottom. If not, let it cook another few minutes and check again. When it becomes a mahogany color, turn it over and let the bottom brown, then turn it again to brown the sides.
Braising the Meat
When the meat has browned on all sides, insert a meat thermometer into the center of the roast not letting it touch the bone, add the water, and crumble the bay leaves into the pot. Put the lid on the pot and turn the heat to medium-low. The roast will take about 1-1/2 to 2 hours to cook.
Check the roast from time to time as it cooks to make sure the liquid in the pot is gently bubbling. If it is bubbling too rapidly, turn the heat down a bit; if it is not bubbling, turn it up a bit. Also, make sure that there is at least 1/2 inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot at all times. If not, add 1 cup of water.
Preparing the Vegetables
While the meat is braising, peel and quarter the onions.
Peel and cut the carrots into 2-inch lengths.
Peel and quarter the potatoes.
Before adding the carrots and potatoes, season them with the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
Adding the Vegetables and Finishing the Roast
When the roast has cooked for 1 hour, add the onions, carrots, and potatoes to the pot, spreading them around so they sit alongside and on top of the roast. Cook, simmering for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, check to see if the roast is done. If the temperature is at least 180°F, it is done. If not, cook it another 20 minutes or so and check again.
Serving the Pot Roast
Once the roast is done, use a large fork to lift it out of the pot and onto a cutting board. Transfer the vegetables to a warm serving platter and cover with foil. Set aside the pot with the cooking liquid which you will use to make the gravy (recipe follows).
Using a large sharp carving knife, cut the roast into 1/4-inch thick slices. Discard any bones. Arrange the meat on the center of the platter with the vegetables surrounding it. Cover the platter with foil and keep warm until you have made the gravy and are ready to serve the meal.
Making the Gravy
Put the flour and water into a 2-cup jar, screw on the lid, and shake for about 5 seconds. If you don’t have a jar, mix them in a small bowl with a fork or whisk.
Set the pot with the cooking liquid over medium-high heat (don’t worry if there are small bits of vegetables in the pot) and reheat until the liquid begins to bubble gently.
Add the water-flour mixture and stir with a wire whisk for about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a thick soup.
Seasoning and Serving the Gravy
Taste, and add salt and pepper to the gravy, about 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until it is well seasoned according to your personal taste.
Pour into a small bowl or gravy boat and serve hot with the pot roast.