Making a good pot roast is a infinitely rewarding experience; how else can you take a relatively cheap and tough piece of meat, leave it alone for a few hours, and have a rich and delicious meal waiting for you at the end? Sunday roasts are a tradition here in the Western world, and we don’t make this dish often enough. I have two simple rules when it comes to judging a successful pot roast: 1) it should never require a knife to cut, and 2) gravy should be minimal and complementary, and not used as a quick fix for a dry roast. Many cuts of beef can be used for pot roast, but I have found that a chuck roast has the perfect blend of affordability and marbling.
Let’s talk about how I approach this dish, and most other roasts. The term “to roast” actually means to cook in a dry heat, which can often result in a dry dish. Roasting in its most effective form is over an open flame or a rotisserie, which is definitely not what we’re going for with this dish. Most of the “roasting” I do is actually “braising” – roasting it in liquid – which is also commonly called “pot roasting” (you can see the ambiguity, right?). Braising a piece of meat is important because it allows the meat’s connective tissue to melt, resulting in a tastier and more tender dish. With a dry roast, you are likely to have a dry meat with hardened connective tissue.
I should also mention that this roast, and many of my other dishes, wouldn’t be possible without my incredible Le Creuset French Oven. What makes this oven ideal is its heavy cover which keeps moisture locked in. Its $275 price point might seem steep, but you can use it in hundreds of ways and has a 101-year warranty. If you’re going to have only one dish for the rest of your life, I say that you’d be safe with this one.
3-6 lb chuck roast
1 cup beef stock
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
1 onion, 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery (chopped into large pieces)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 sprig thyme
salt/pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. In a french/dutch oven heat up the oil on med/high heat for 5 mins and brown each side of the roast, 2-3 minutes on each side, adding some salt and pepper on each side.
Remove the roast and set it to the side.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, celery, and carrots. Saute for about 8 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the roast. Return the chuck roast to the pot and add the beef and chicken stocks (using both types of stocks makes a tasty meal without an overbearing “beefy” taste). Next add enough water to make the chuck roast submerged halfway, about 1/2 cup. Place the lid on the french oven and put it in the oven (middle rack) and roast on 300 degrees for about three hours.
After an hour and a half, flip the roast. Starting at the two-hour mark check it for doneness. You should be able to easily tear it apart with a fork. Given the fact that the meat is safely nestled in a bunch of liquid, you can cook it as long as you’d like without fear of it drying out – in fact, the longer the better (although anything longer than four hours is probably too long).
Carefully remove the roast and cover it with tinfoil. While it rests, let’s make your pan sauce.
Strain the veggies (they will be all kinds of mushy now) and preserve the liquid (should be about 1 1/2 cups). Pour the liquid back into the french oven and turn the heat up to med/high. Reduce the liquid to about one cup, which will take about 5 minutes. Next, add the red wine and further reduce the liquid to about 1 cup, which should take another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once the sauce is ready, return to the roast, and cut it into meal-sized portions using a sharp knife. Spoon some of the gravy over the beef and serve.
So there you have it. A foolproof way to make a jaw-dropping roast, perfect for any Sunday dinner.