I know it’s not glamorous. Pot roast for dinner in the Baer house usually elicits cries of “mystery meat” and, “You’re not making it in the crockpot, are you?”
Well, I love my pot roast and have been making it for more than 40 years. February is the perfect time for warm comforting foods: soups and stews bubbling on the stove, hearty casseroles and lasagna, and yes, pot roast.
My long-time recipe adapts easily to variations, and I have tried them all. You can braise the beef in red wine, dark beer, beef broth or tomato juice. Beer and wine are my favorites! I always add potatoes, carrots and, often, turnips, but butternut squash cubes work well and, if you love green pepper, throw in some large cubes or strips for a slightly different pot roast flavor.
But it is the slow browning of sliced onions that gives this roast such a rich flavor and dark color. The end result is a warming, one-dish meal that makes you forget the cold and snow outside. And it promises great sandwiches with lettuce and mayonnaise the next day.
Rosemary’s Pot Roast
- 4-5 pounds beef rump roast (cut from the sirloin end of the round, but you can also use a nice chuck roast)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large sweet onion, sliced (I like Vidalia or Kandy onions.)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon each dried thyme and marjoram
- 1 bay leaf, crumbled
- 8 whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon salt (decrease if you are using broth)
- 12 ounces beef broth (try to find unsalted), dark beer or red wine
- 12 small red or yellow gold potatoes
- 8 carrots, peeled and cut in half
- Several parsley sprigs
- 3 tablespoons flour, cornstarch or arrowroot for thickening the gravy
- Additional vegetables if you prefer: cubed turnips or butternut squash
- Wipe roast dry with paper towels
- In hot oil and butter, brown the roast along with the sliced onions in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pan. (A Le Creuset pot works very well.)
- Brown the onions and roast, slowly and gently! Slow browning (about 25 minutes) is essential.
- When the roast and onions are brown, add the garlic, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, peppercorns and salt (if using) to the drippings in the pan. Stir for a ½ minute with a wooden spoon to release the aroma of the herbs.
- Add whatever liquid you are using and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover the pot, and cook gently for about 2½ hours. Turn the meat occasionally.
- Add the vegetables and cook for about 30 minutes with the pan covered until they are tender.
- When all are cooked, remove the toast and vegetables to a warm oven and cover the platter loosely with foil.
- Add the flour (or other thickening agent) to about ¼ cup water in a measuring cup and add to the drippings in the Dutch oven, whisking until smooth. (I don’t strain the gravy because I like the little bits of onion and even the peppercorns in it.)
- When ready to serve, slice the roast into thin slices and arrange the vegetables nicely around it. Drizzle the gravy over and garnish with additional sprigs of fresh parsley.
This is comfort food at its best. Now, maybe you are planning some lovely steak, veal or crab cakes for Valentine’s Day. That’s OK. But try my pot roast on a cold, blustery Sunday accompanied by some applesauce and crisp cold beer. I think you will like it.
My husband thought it important to add one final thought: This dish is fine as long as you don’t forget the horseradish!