Beef à la Mode (French Pot Roast)

Beef à la Mode (Boeuf à la Mode) is the French variation of traditional pot roast. What sets it apart from an American-style pot roast is that it uses red or white wine (and sometimes tomato), while the original American pot roasts were made with just water. Traditional Beef à la Mode employs a technique called larding, where a special needle is used to thread long strips of pork fat through a tough cut of beef to add fat and flavor. While that sounds pretty awesome, I didn’t think it was fair to buy a needle just for one dish; so instead I did what many modern chefs do today, and cooked some bacon with the roast. I’ve seen some old Beef à la Mode recipes call for a cow foot to be added to the pot to help thicken and gelatinize the braising liquid; personally, I just used some gelatinous homemade beef stock instead.

I made a couple other slight modifications to this dish. Instead of celery, I used celery root, which imparts a similar flavor but is much heartier and more satisfying to eat (I bet it’s more nutritious, too). Secondly, I garnished the dish with some fresh chopped parsley and thinly sliced lemon zest to add a bit of brightness to the dish. The modifications definitely worked; my wife said this was the best pot roast I’ve ever made.

And yes, “à la Mode” means more than just “topped with ice cream”; it roughly translates to “in the style/modern”, meaning that when the French first started braising beef in wine it was in style. In that same sense, when Americans first started putting ice cream on pies (around the 1890s) it was considered stylish, so we adopted the French phrase. If you went to France and asked someone to bring you some “Tarte (Pie) à la Mode”, you’d probably just get funny looks.

Beef à la Mode (French Pot Roast)

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

3-5 lb chuck roast or boneless short ribs
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp each kosher salt and black pepper
4oz bacon, pancetta, or salt pork, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh parsley, divided
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef stock, more if needed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 celery root, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
zest of 1/2 lemon (1 tsp), thinly sliced

1. Pat the chuck roast dry with paper towels, then rub all over with the ground nutmeg. Sprinkle both sides generously with kosher salt and black pepper, about 1/2 tsp each.

2. Warm a dutch oven on med/low heat, then add the bacon. Sauté, lowering the heat as needed, until crispy and the fat has rendered out, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon; there should be about 1 tbsp of liquid fat left in the dutch oven (if there’s less, add a tbsp of lard or coconut oil). Adjust the heat to medium/high and allow to come to temperature, about 1 minute.

3. Preheat your oven to 300F. Gently blot any accumulated liquid from the chuck roast with a paper towel, then add the roast to the dutch oven. Brown on both sides until a deep brown crust forms, about 3 minutes per side, then remove the roast and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add the diced onion, sautéing until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar and wine, and deglaze. Return the bacon to the pot, then add the roast, thyme, half of the parsley, and the bay leaves. Pour enough stock to cover 3/4 of the roast, then bring to a simmer.

4. Cover the dutch oven and put it in the oven. Braise until almost tender, about 2 hours. Add the carrots and celery root and cook until tender, another 30-45 minutes.

5. Gently remove the roast and set aside to rest, covering loosely with tin foil. Strain the liquid and reserve the bacon and vegetables; set aside. Return the liquid to the dutch oven and simmer on med/high heat until reduced by half, about 6 minutes. As it reduces, slice the roast and arrange on a platter with the vegetables. Chop the remaining two sprigs of parsley and thinly slice the lemon zest, then combine. Pour the reduced liquid over the roast and vegetables, then garnish with parsley and lemon zest.

35 thoughts on “Beef à la Mode (French Pot Roast)

  1. Russ, I have a suggestion about your comments box.

    Lots of people comment “Oh, this looks good, I can’t wait to try it” or something similar.

    Why don’t you give more “weight” to comments from people who have actually made the recipe?

    Angie’s List says in their com box instructions that more weight is given to members who had the contractor actually perform the job. In their case, you could have solicited an estimate and didn’t hire the contractor because he didn’t show up, prices were too high, or a number of info comments that would be “medium info” to other list members. Members who had the work completed would be giving “high info” comments.

    Maybe you could institute some similar combox status that explains whose comments may or may not be posted:

    High status: Comments from people who actually made the recipe themselves. Medium status: Comments from people who noticed some error in the recipe, such as ingredients missing, or directions that neglect to say how or when to use a listed ingredient. Low status (possibly will not be posted): Comments such as “Oh, this looks good, I can’t wait to try it” or something of that nature.

    I always roll my eyes when I see “low status” comments.

    I only recently discovered you (bought your cookbook in Kindle format b/c my bookshelf is full), and I’ve already made a few of your recipes, including the roasted cauliflower with that “curry” sauce. I signed up for the weekly recipe email, so I’m using your website too.

    Keep up the good work.

    Cordially, Fran Freiman

    Sent from my iPad



    1. Hi Fran, thanks for the feedback! I think the best solution would be to allow other readers to upvote (and downvote) relevant comments so it would be easier to see important remarks. Unfortunately, since I’m tied to for my blog’s infrastructure, I don’t have the option of adding an “upvote” system to my blog comments – all I can add is a “like” button that doesn’t look very good with my current blog theme. I’ll keep an eye out for other solutions, and I appreciate your perspective. Glad to hear you like the book!


    2. OMG…thank you for posting this. This drives me insane. As much as the author of whatever blog you’re reading probably loves compliments, I hate scrolling through 782 “these look sooooooo good!” comments to find someone who has actually made a recipe and commented on it. I can’t tell you how many Paleo cookie recipes I’ve thrown in the garbage because I got sick of either reading the comments or waiting for the blog author to answer my question…


      1. Can you please direct me to where you got this information? My research showed that this dish has been called Boeuf à la mode since the 1600s, well before the advent of restaurants (mid 1700s).


  2. Russ, I can tell by the recipe that this is a great and unique version of pot roast! I love chuck roasts, but I dice them and use them for stews. It’s a very tasty, tender cut of beef (when cooked long enough, of course) — I just don’t like the big chunks of fat in the middle, so that is why I never make pot roast. Top and bottom round always turn out tough for me. What are your thoughts?


    1. Ian, glad you like the post! I agree, chuck roast definitely has a somewhat inconsistent texture when cooked in big chunks, although I personally like that part :) Also agree that round roasts are not cut out for braising, I prefer to dry roast like my “Perfect Eye of Round Roast” recipe. I’ve recently been obsessed with boneless short ribs – I think they provide the same tenderness as chuck roast when braised, but with a much less stringy texture than chuck and an solid yet tender body – akin to steak, but slow-roasted :)


  3. Long-time lurker, first-time poster. I should have trusted my instincts with the cut of meat. Our butcher had only top round this past Saturday–sold out of chuck. I put it in the pressure cooker for 45 minutes and natural release along with some modifications. That is, instead of celeriac root and carrots, I used leeks and Yukon Gold spuds (some of you will balk at that, I know). The leeks and spuds turned out really well. But, boy, did the top round turn out stringy! Lesson learned for me: call the butcher ahead and order! Bottom line: the recipe is great. Just get the right cut of meat for it. Thanks, Russ.


      1. No sad emoticons, Russ! Your beef short ribs recipe is next on the menu. Can’t wait, actually, as they’ll be perfect in the pressure cooker.


  4. Russ, does this work best with boneless or bone-in chuck roast, or does it matter. Sorry if you stated in your recipe already but if so, I missed it. Thanks!


    1. Hands down the best roast I’ve ever made or tasted. I used the sirloin roast about which I had inquired (the texture was more desirable than chuck…very minimal fat but still pull-apart tender and moist). I didn’t have red wine vinegar so used apple cider, and subbed mushrooms for carrots (what I had on hand). Superb meat, with a jus that was rich and tasty. Served with a pureed cauliflower and sauteed asparagus. I will definitely make again – thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s