For anyone who loves food, eating every meal out for three weeks in wonderful restaurants sounds like a dream and it is. For three weeks my husband and I enjoyed having delicious food that was served to us in either small restaurants in charming out of the way villages or in famous restaurants where only the finest of ingredients were used. But upon returning home from Europe, it is back to the reality of home cooked meals.
Planning menus, shopping for groceries and preparing home cooked dinners all too soon becomes the new normal and for a foodie like myself that isn’t a bad thing. I have gotten inspiration from every wonderful dish that I enjoyed while traveling and will be trying to recreate some of them in the future. But when thinking of what to cook for one of our first meals home, my mind immediately went to a comfort meal from when I was young. An old fashioned pot roast cooked with carrots, potatoes and onions is something that I grew up having for Sunday lunch while living with my parents in Texas.
When the weather turns cool, there is something wonderful about the deep, rich flavor of a tender piece of meat with vegetables cooked alongside that I always enjoy. Once the prep work is completed, it is placed in the oven for several hours until it becomes fork tender. All the while, wonderful aromas fill the kitchen and other rooms of our home.
Old Fashioned Pot Roast With Vegetables
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- 2 to 2 1/2 lb. chuck roast about an 1 in. or 1 1/2 in. thick, trimmed of excess fat
- 1 or 2 Tbsp. oil for searing
- salt and pepper for seasoning the meat
- 1/2 onion, chopped fine
- 3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
- 10 oz. package of mushrooms (I used Cremini), stems removed but saved, buttons sliced
- several pieces of dried Porcini mushrooms steeped with 2 c. of boiling water to make a mushroom broth, then strained
- 1 c. red wine
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- several springs of fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- carrots, peeled and cut in half (as many as you want)
- a couple of potatoes (I used Yukon Gold) peeled and cut into wedges
- a couple of onions, peeled and quartered
- 1/2 c. or more of frozen peas
If you would like to make a gravy from the cooking liquid, you will need:
- additional salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp. each garlic powder and onion powder
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 or 2 Tbsp. flour for thickening
- 1 or more Tbsp. butter
- 1 c. white wine
Heat the oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven over medium heat. Pat the roast dry and season generously with salt and pepper, then sear on both sides until nice and brown. Remove to a plate and add the chopped onion to the pot and sauté until soft. Chop the saved mushroom stems and add to the onions and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Add the mushroom broth and red wine to deglaze the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the thyme and bay leaves and return the roast to the pot. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the oven and let braise for an hour. Turn roast over, adding a little water if it seems dry, and braise for another hour. At this point, add the carrots, potatoes and quartered onions. Braise until the beef and vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Depending on the weight and thickness of the roast, total cooking time should be around three hours. Test with a fork for doneness…it should pull apart easily. If not, cook for about 30 minutes longer.
In the meantime, heat butter in a sauté pan until it starts to sizzle and then add the sliced mushroom buttons. Cook until just soft, then set aside.
When the roast is tender, remove from the oven and place the meat on a platter. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables and place around the meat and cover with foil to keep warm.
To make the gravy, discard the thyme stems and bay leaves. Pour the liquid from the Dutch oven into a fat separator and let the fat rise to the top. Put the Dutch oven on the stove top over medium heat and add the butter and flour, whisking to combine and cook for about a minute. Add the defatted liquid back to the pot slowly and whisk to combine. Slowly add the wine and then the seasonings and stir. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let the gravy simmer until the desired consistency. Add the mushrooms and peas and cook until they are heated through and tender.
This is a simple recipe where the moist heat of braising takes a piece of not so tender and usually inexpensive cut of meat and turns it into a melt in your mouth and flavorful meal. Adding mushrooms enhances the overall deep, rich taste, the vegetables soak up some of the braising liquid for added flavor and the peas add some bright color. You can make this recipe your own by adding different root vegetables if you wish.
For other braised meat dishes you might enjoy: