Sunday, September 8, 2013

Classic Pot Roast

This probably is the simplest recipe I've posted. But it's also a close contender for most comforting. There is something very wholesome about pot roast. And I am nostalgic for the meaty, peppery flavor. Besides spaghetti, it's probably the meal we ate the most throughout my childhood.

When I was a kid, my parents  both worked full-time, and neither one of them kept regular 8 hour days. My mother was in the medical field and my father worked and taught at the local university. So their workdays sometimes extended into the evenings. On top of that, my siblings and I played sports from a young age. So our evenings often were full, too. Needless to say, there wasn't much time in the evenings to cook (the need for simple nutritious food is like the theme of my life...).

Two or three times a month, my mother would put a large roast in a deep baking dish with a little water, cover it with foil, and bake it low-and-slow all day while we were at school and work. The first family member home was responsible for peeling potatoes (or on occasion we'd resort to potato buds) and warming up a frozen vegetable. Then when mom or dad got home, they'd use the pan drippings to make a peppery gravy. Dinner was on the table in no time. And it tasted like Sunday-after-church-cooked-all-day-for-the-family even though we didn't.

This recipe is just as simple and equally delicious, but doesn't require me to leave my gas oven on while I'm away (God bless my super-huge Crock-Pot!) and doesn't quite take all day. There is plenty of juice left after the roast is fully cooked to make a quick gravy and practically any vegetable will taste great as a side dish. I don't make this recipe quite as frequently as my parents did (mostly because I only cook once for the whole week, instead of making a different dinner each night) but it does come up in the rotation quite often. More frequently when I miss my family.

Classic Pot Roast

I served the roast with mashed squash and wilted spinach.


4 lbs beef chuck roast
2 yellow onions, sliced thin
1 head celery, chopped
1 head garlic, cloves pealed and smashed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt


Place chuck roast in your Crock-Pot. Season with salt and pepper. Add veggies and water. Cover and turn on high heat. Let cook on high until meat is fork-tender. About 5 hours. 

Remove meat from liquid. Scoop out veggies with a slotted spoon. Reserve liquid.* Cut roast beef into portions. Spoon a few tablespoons of cooking liquid over each serving of beef. Serve veggies as a side.

*Note: If you choose not to make a gravy, the cooking liquid can be boiled and used as a flavorful blanching or braising liquid for diced sweet potatoes or butternut squash. Or use the liquid in place of stock to whip up a cauliflower mash. This will carry the meaty flavors over to the side dish and better unite the meal.

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