Pot Roast is the crowning jewel of the Slow Cooked Beef Family. A bit elevated, but not considered fancy food by any stretch, Pot Roast is the meal I make when I want to communicate love and the comforts of home. There’s just something about Pot Roast that is universally appreciated and enjoyed.
You might think that the shining star of Pot Roast is the meat, and while tender and tasty, I would argue the real winner is the sauce. In my recipe, the sauce is not an afterthought or a residual byproduct of cooking a roast. It becomes the component of this dish that you will be talking about for days.
The secret to the sauce is not the list of ingredients (although, they are all important for different reasons), but the method by which we build the sauce. The layers of flavors create something that is far better than the sum of its parts.
In my opinion, Pot Roast is delicious atop Mashed Potatoes, but if you are not a fan of potatoes, any variety of grits, rice, or even egg noodles will serve you well. Whatever you do, serve a side dish that will allow ample opportunity for sopping up the delicious sauce.
Last note on the sauce. More than likely, you will have leftover sauce after all of the meat is gone. Use this to create another meal by using it as pasta sauce. I have a friend who gathers the extra sauce, freezes it for later, and then turns it into a quick dinner down the road.
If you would like to learn how to cook pot roast from start to finish, to see in action all of the details that matter, to cook alongside me in my kitchen as I prepare this dish, the Let’s Learn Pot Roast learn-at-home video is ready and waiting for you in my shop. I hope you will give it a look!
- 1 3 to 5-pound boneless chuck roast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt per pound of meat, plus more
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper per pound of meat, plus more
- olive oil
- 1 pound carrots, unpeeled, cut into large chunks
- 1 onion peeled, cut into large chunks
- 1/2 bunch celery, leaves removed, cut into large chunks
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac (don't skip this ingredient!)
- 1 28-ounce can whole plum tomates
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 branches fresh thyme
- 2 branches fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Based on the weight of your chuck roast, mix together the appropriate amount of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Line a sheet tray with a double layer of paper towels. Have some additional paper towels handy as well. Remove the chuck roast from the packaging and place it on top of the paper towel-lined sheet tray. Using another layer of towels, pat the top of the roast dry. Once the roast is dry, remove all of the paper towels and throw them away.
- Evenly distribute the salt and pepper over both sides of the meat, rubbing it in a bit. Don’t worry much about trying to season the sides of the roast, and don’t worry if all of the seasoning doesn’t stick.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large dutch oven or other heavy pot with a lid. You want the oil to get very hot, almost smoking, but not quite. Once the oil is very hot, carefully lift the roast off of the tray and lay it in the bottom of the pot. It should sizzle quite a lot. If your oil begins to smoke, you need to reduce the heat. We want the roast to be hot and sizzling, but not burning or smoking.
- DO NOT MOVE THE MEAT! Allow it to sear for three minutes. While it sears, if there is any leftover salt and pepper on the tray where the meat was resting, add it to the top of the roast. Save the tray.
- After three minutes, using tongs and perhaps a sturdy spatula, very carefully flip the roast. Sear the other side of the meat for three minutes. Once both sides are nicely browned and crusty, remove the roast to the waiting sheet tray.
- Add 2 more tablespoons olive oil to the now empty pan. Add the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. This could take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes depending on your pot and the heat of your stove.
- Once the vegetables are cooked, add the brandy or cognac to the pan, and use a wooden spoon or metal spatula to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow the brandy to cook for about one minute.
- Add the tomatoes with their juices, the chicken stock, the beef stock, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Stir everything together. Put the roast back into the pot, nestling it into the vegetable mixture as much as possible. Tie the rosemary and thyme together with kitchen twine. Add the herb bundle to the top of the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once the mixture is boiling, cover the pot and reduce the heat. You want the mixture to be at a gentle simmer with the lid on the pot. Not violently boiling. Not motionless. Somewhere in between. Look for small bubbles and movement in the pot without it spattering everywhere. You will have to adjust the heat during the first thirty minutes to get it just right.
- Once the mixture is simmering quietly while covered, walk away. The meat will need to cook for three to five hours (depending on the size of your roast). Begin checking it after three hours. It should be fork tender. If you have to exert effort to remove a piece of meat, it is not ready. Once the meat is finished cooking, remove and discard the herb bundle.
If you are serving the Pot Roast on the same day you cooked it…
- Remove the meat from the pan and remove the pot from the heat for about thirty minutes. Then, try to skim off as much fat from the top of the sauce as possible. Using an immersion blender, process the sauce in the pan until mostly smooth with a little bit of texture. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine.Add the meat back into the pot and keep warm over low heat.
If you are serving the Pot Roast a few days after you cook it…
- Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool on the counter for about an hour. Transfer the covered pot to the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.On the day you are going to serve the roast, remove the lid. You will see a chilled layer of fat on top of the sauce. Use your hands or a spoon to scrape off the solid fat and discard it. Next, gently heat the entire mixture until the sauce is bubbling and the meat is heated through. Do this slowly and gently so you do not scorch the bottom of the sauce.Remove the meat from the pot and set it on a plate or tray. It will begin to fall apart when you lift it from the pot, so take care to fish out any chunks of meat from the sauce. If there are large visible pieces of fat on the meat, you can remove them at this time if you like.Once all of the meat is removed from the pot, use an immersion blender to process the sauce until it has a nice chunky texture. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Add the meat back to the pot and serve!