The summer after I graduated from college, I lived at home and taught at my church’s day camp in the mornings and worked at a gym doing personal training in the evenings (have I even told you that was my pre-kid job?!). I had a really interesting variety of clients (words that do not begin to describe) and was getting my first dose of people telling their trainer All The Things. On the nights I worked I finished at 8 and I have the most vivid memory of driving home starving to find this meal waiting for me. Pot roast made by your mom – is there anything better??
That bowl is my definition of comfort food. Tender meat, sweet carrots, and lots of potatoes to mash up with my fork, all doused with the richest, most happily salty-savory broth – I will tell you all my troubles, pot roast. Plus those of my crazy clients.
Pot roast is actually really easy to make – it takes some time to cook, but most of it is hands-off, and I like to cook all my veggies right in with the meat, so it’s a one-pot, one-cutting-board operation. Which is a Very Wonderful operation.
I only, only, ever use chuck roast to make pot roast. The world of roasts is so confusing to me – top round? bottom round? eye of round? What does it all mean?? Stay away from the rounds and just get a nice, thick, marbled chuck roast. This kind of roast will get all shred-y and wonderful after a couple of hours in the pot!
So: start by heating oil in a large pot. It needs to be hot before you add the roast so you get a good sear on the meat. If your roast is too big to fit, you can cut it into a couple of chunks. I forgot to salt and pepper my roast before I seared it, but don’t be like me!
After a few minutes (I set a timer for 4 minutes, because that feels like forever and I’m prone to rushing this step), flip the roast and brown the other side. I like to use tongs to stand it on its sides and ends to sear them, too! That gives you some room to throw in chunked onions and garlic, too, so they can brown. At our house in Raleigh I needed an open window during this step or the smoke alarm went off, although I haven’t had that problem here!
Yay for color! All that browning adds so much flavor to the roast and the liquid you’re about to add to the pot. I recommend 5-6 cups of beef broth (I use 5-6 cups of water plus about 2 Tablespoons of Better than Bouillon beef base), but this amount is totally flexible. If you’re feeding a lot of people and want to cook extra veggies, you might need more, or if you don’t want to have tons of broth for serving (but why, why, why, don’t you??) you can use less!
I add pieces of celery and dried herbs at this point, and then cover and simmer the roast for…as long as I have. Ideally, the total cooking time should be around 2.5 hours for a 2.5-3 lb roast, but sometimes I rush it. The long cooking time is important for getting the meat tender, blah blah, but sometimes people [me] are hungry when they’re hungry, and if we have to chew slightly harder we do it. ;o)
Add chunked carrots and potatoes to the simmering broth about 30-40 minutes before you plan to serve the pot roast. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to taste – you can also add more beef base to get a deeper/richer flavor!
Pot roast is one of my favorite meals to deliver to a friend with a new baby or someone in need. It’s hearty and comforting, and kid-friendly in that you can separate everything if foods-touching-foods is an issue. :o) Plus, it reheats well and the leftovers are amazing!
- 2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I use avocado oil)
- 2.5-3+ lb chuck roast
- kosher salt and pepper
- 2 medium onions, cut into large chunks
- 2-4 cloves of garlic, smashed and cut into a couple of pieces each
- 5-6 cups beef broth (I use water + Better than Bouillon beef base)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1.5 teaspoons dried parsley
- 4 stalks celery, cut into chunks
- 3-5 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 6-8 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the chuck roast with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. When the oil begins to smoke, add the meat to the pot (cut it into chunks first if it’s too big to fit in one piece, or if you want to trim off some of the fat) and brown the first side for 3-4 minutes. Carefully turn it over to sear the second side for 3-4 minutes, then use tongs to prop it up and brown the sides for a minute or two. While the roast is on its side, add the onions and garlic so they can brown, too.
- Add the beef broth, celery pieces, bay leaf, and dried herbs. Allow the liquid to come to a simmer, then cover and let simmer on low to medium-low for 1-2 hours (the longer the better for tender pot roast – with the time the veggies simmer in the next step, total time should be 1.5-2.5 hours).
- About 30-40 minutes before you want to serve the pot roast, add potatoes and carrots and allow the pot roast to continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender. This is a good time to turn the roast over, too, especially if it’s not fully submerged in the broth. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper as needed. You can also add more beef base to add more flavor.
I don’t actually measure the herbs, just sprinkle some in. You can substitute with rosemary, thyme, whatever you like/have on hand!
You can easily adjust the amount of liquid and potatoes/carrots based on how many people you’re serving/how much leftovers you want.
I often turn “round 3” leftovers into soup – when there’s not much meat left, cut it into small pieces and add frozen vegetables like peas, green beans, and corn!
I haven’t tried this in the crockpot, but I think after browning the meat and adding the liquid to the pot so you can scrape up the brown bits on the bottom, you could switch it over to the crockpot to cook on low. Not sure about adding the potatoes/carrots – sorry! Let me know if you try it!
This recipe is from my mom. :o)