Recipes: Then and Now

Recipes from the past updated for today

Post #6 Pot Roast Dinner

May 15, 2014

There are few things that bring to mind “Mom’s home cooking” better than Pot Roast with potatoes, carrots and lots of flavorful gravy. I have been experimenting with different recipes from several sources and I think I have it narrowed down to what I liked about my mothers Pot Roast. I have tried the pressure cooker with good results and the crock pot, too, but for the best old time flavor and aroma use the stove top or oven. Some very good pot roast can be made with the recipe on the onion soup mix, but that is not quite right. I want to create the flavor myself, not dump it out of a package full of ingredients I can’t pronounce.

Tradition will have you set the pot on the stovetop to cook. I like the oven as it is a little clearer to say ‘325 degrees’ than to say ‘medium to low heat’. But be sure to use a pot that has oven proof handles and lids if it is going into the oven.

In my trials I have found the best flavor comes from browning the roast well, then setting it to braise for at least several hours. If the browning is not done the meat will be gray and not as richly flavored. The process is quite simple. Place a small amount of oil in the bottom of the dutch oven or stock pot. Then heat over medium heat till the oil sizzles when you toss in a few drops of water. Now place the roast into the pot and let it get good and brown on the first side. Then turn the roast over to brown the other side. You may also want to dredge the roast in flour before browning. The browned flour will add another flavor dimension. I prefer not to use it but you might like to try it.

The seasoning is important, too. In Mom’s kitchen salt and pepper were the standard. Mostly salt and a little bit of pepper. That just isn’t enough these days. Besides, today we have a dizzying array of seasonings from which to choose. My favorite for Pot Roast is ‘English Prime Rib Rub’ from Penzeys. I just sprinkle on about ½ to 1 teaspoon on the top of the roast just before the onions go on.

Pot Roast Dinner

4 to 6 pounds chuck roast

1 to 2 tablespoons flour (optional)

2 tablespoons oil

1 medium onion, sliced and separated into rings

4 to 6 small to medium potatoes, peeled and cut in half

6 to 8 medium carrots

Seasoning to taste

Water as needed, ½ to 1 ½ cups

Dredge the roast in the flour, if you are using the flour. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or stock pot and brown the roast thoroughly on both sides. Remove the roast and place in the bottom of the pan a rack or oven safe trivet. Place the roast on the trivet to hold the meat so that it is not sitting in the liquid. Sprinkle on the seasoning and top the meat with the rings of onion. Add only enough water to come ¼ the way up the sides of the roast. Not too much, the roast will give plenty of its own juice. Cover the pot and place in the oven at 325 degrees. Cook for 2 to 3 hours. A smaller roast will take less time than a larger one. With about an hour to go, add the vegetables. Baste them with the pan juices to give them a good flavor. When the potatoes are done, take everything out of the pot and make gravy with the pan juices. I mix together 4 tablespoons flour with ¼ cup water and then slowly pour into the pan while stirring. Add only as much as you need to make the gravy as thick as you like. Season the gravy with some salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes more.