Every fall, I look forward to the first day when the weather gets cold enough to cook a classic pot roast. That day was slow in coming this year. Summer weather stuck around until almost late November so I had to wait an especially long time for the first pot roast of the season. Even though I make my pot roast in a slow cooker rather than the oven, I still feel the need to wait for wintry temperatures. Somehow comfort food doesn’t feel like comfort food unless I can wear my favorite pull-over and wool socks. With the weather being gray and cold this week, I decided it was the perfect time to share my favorite pot roast recipe.
I wish I could say this is one of those recipes where you can throw everything in the slow cooker, ignore it for 8 hours, and then have dinner ready. However, this one requires some work upfront and at the end. Why? In a word, texture. I have tried many, many pot roast recipes both in a slow cooker and an oven and have found that when everything gets thrown in all at once with no prep work, everything comes out with essentially the same mushy texture. I think a pot roast needs to be melt-in-your-mouth-tender but still have some bite. And nothing is worse than vegetables completely lacking in color and form. Therefore, I am a firm believer in tying the roast and searing it before braising it. You can go to the Epicurious website to view a video tutorial on how to tie a roast. And I think that the potatoes and carrots should only be added during the last 45 minutes of cooking so they don’t overcook. While the roast is cooking (and if I happen to be home), I will also turn the roast over occasionally which I find helps keep the roast from drying out. Finally, be sure the cooking liquid in the pot only comes to about halfway up the side of the roast – we want to braise the meat not boil it. Again, for the sake of texture.
Wow. I never realized I was so passionate about pot roast until I wrote this post but there you have it. I’ll shut up and step down from the soap box now. I’ll be curled up on the couch with some fuzzy blankets and a bowl of pot roast if you want to join me.
- 1 (3 ½ – 4 pound) boneless chuck eye pot roast, tied
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped medium
- 1 small carrot, chopped medium
- 1 small rib celery, chopped medium
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
- 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ cup dry red wine
- 1 ½ pounds carrots, cut into 1–2 inch pieces
- 1 – 1 ½ pounds small red potatoes, cut into halves or quarters if large
- Season the roast generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Brown the roast thoroughly on all sides, reducing heat if fat begins to smoke, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the roast to a slow cooker; set aside.
- Add onion, carrots, and celery to skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and sugar; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and beef broths and thyme, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Stir in red wine. Pour onion and broth mixture over the roast in the slow cooker. Cook the roast on low for 8-9 hours until meat is very tender. If possible, turn roast every 60 minutes while it is cooking. During the last 45 minutes of cooking, turn the slow cooker temperature to High and add carrots and potatoes submerging them in the cooking liquid as much as possible. Continue to cook until vegetables are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
- Transfer roast to a cutting board; tent with foil to keep warm. Allow liquid in slow cooker to settle about 5 minutes, then use a wide spoon to skim fat off surface; discard thyme sprig. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pull apart meat into large pieces; transfer to serving platter. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to platter with the roast. Pour some of the sauce from the slow cooker over the meat and vegetables. Pass around the remaining sauce when serving.
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated