Wow!! This is the best pot roast I have ever had!
Normally, I make pot roast in the crock pot. Its delicious and really, really simple. It basically requires you to throw a bunch of things in, stir it around, and walk away for 8 hours.
I was watching America’s Test Kitchen on PBS a few weeks ago when they made this pot roast. I don’t know if it was because I was hungry, but it looked better than anything I had ever eaten and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Unfortunately, it also looked more complicated than my regular pot roast so I kept putting off making it. Turns out that it wasn’t hard at all — the prep time was only about 20 minutes!
This is what you’ll need to make the best pot roast I’ve ever eaten (I doubled the recipe since we had people over the evening I made it — normally you’d only need one chuck roast):
Separate the chuck roast into two pieces along the main line of fat. This will allow you to remove the big piece of gristle in the middle of the roast. This piece of gristle never really renders like the fat, so its best to remove it before cooking.
If you have trouble separating the two pieces of the roast, use a knife to help.
Once you’ve separated the roast, lay the pieces on a cookie cooling rack set in a jelly roll pan. Salt the meat liberally on both sides and let it rest for an hour.
After an hour, sprinkle pepper on the meat. Then roll the meat into a spiral. This will make it into the shape of a roast again so it will cook evenly.
Using kitchen twine, tie the meat tightly. DO NOT be lazy if you don’t have kitchen twine and use nylon string. It will melt and ruin the dish. Do I sound like I know what I am talking about? I do.
Set the meat aside while you prepare the vegetables. Start by sauteing the sliced onions in a dutch oven.
Once the onions have browned, add the celery and carrots. Saute for 5 minutes until they have softened, then add the garlic.
After the garlic has cooked for 30 – 45 seconds, add the beef broth, wine, tomato paste, bay leaf and thyme sprig.
Bring the mixture to a simmer, then add each piece of meat.
WHAT? No browning before you add the meat?? Why not?
Normally when you make a roast, browning the meat before braising it produces the maillard reaction. This is when the sugars and amino acids bond to create the great, deep flavors that comes from browning the meat. However, if the majority of the meat is out of the liquid while cooking (which, in this recipe, it is) and it cooks for long enough (which, at 4 hours, it will) the maillard reaction will still occur.
Not browning the meat is part of what makes this recipe so easy!
Before sticking the top on the pot and putting it into the oven, use a piece of aluminum foil to cover the dutch oven, then put the top on. The aluminum foil will help seal the pot and keep the moisture and steam inside.
Once the meat has cooked for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, remove it from the pot and place it on a cutting board. Tent the meat with the foil you used to seal the pot. This will keep it warm while you make the gravy.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig from the dutch oven and empty the contents into a blender.
Add 2 cups of beef broth to the blender and blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour the gravy into a pot and add the balsamic vinegar, wine and chopped thyme. Stir until combined.
Slice the roast and drizzle with some of the gravy before serving. Pass the remaining gravy with the pot roast.
A great wine for a pot roast is the Warwick Estate Reserve from South Africa. It is a smooth red blend with notes of fruit and oak.
Classic Pot Roast
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) boneless beef chuck roast
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions , halved and sliced thin (about 2 cups)
1 large carrot , chopped medium (about 1 cup)
1 celery rib , chopped medium (about 3/4 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup beef broth , plus 1 to 2 cups for sauce (see note)
1/2 cup dry red wine , plus 1/4 cup for sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig plus 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Sprinkle pieces of meat with 1 tablespoon salt (1½ teaspoons if using table salt), place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Heat butter in heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add carrot and celery; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes longer. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup broth, ½ cup wine, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme sprig; bring to simmer.
Pat beef dry with paper towels and season generously with pepper. Using 3 pieces of kitchen twine, tie each piece of meat into loaf shape for even cooking.
Nestle meat on top of vegetables. Cover pot tightly with large piece of foil and cover with lid; transfer pot to oven. Cook beef until fully tender and sharp knife easily slips in and out of meat, 3½ to 4 hours, turning halfway through cooking.
Transfer roasts to cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Strain liquid through mesh strainer into 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig. Transfer vegetables to blender jar. Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then skim any fat off surface. Add beef broth as necessary to bring liquid amount to 3 cups. Place liquid in blender with vegetables and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer sauce to medium saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat.
While sauce heats, remove twine from roast and slice against grain into ½-inch-thick slices. Transfer meat to large serving platter. Stir chopped thyme, remaining ¼ cup wine, and vinegar into sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon half of sauce over meat; pass remaining sauce separately.