Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pot Roast

When I moved away from home, it was difficult to get my mother to come visit.  She was always busy with something.  Then it occurred to me....I knew exactly how to get her here.  I told her how busy I was with my business and how much I would appreciate having some of the foods I grew up with in the freezer ready to pop into the oven after a busy day at work.  I told her we could work together in the kitchen to prepare some of my favorite of her dishes.  She was here within the week.  For the past 20 years, my mother will call before her quarterly visit to Nashville to ask, "What will we be making this time?"  I have always enjoyed cooking, but I mostly cherish the mother/daughter bonding time we've enjoyed over the years. 

My mother taught me how to make pot roast, and I still use her original recipe, with just a few minor changes, but I developed an unconventional cooking technique that even she was impressed with.

I grew up on pot roast made with brisket, but I prefer to use chuck. I find this inexpensive meat to be one of the most flavorful cuts of beef. A piece that is well marbled with fat will yield the best flavor, and simmering it slowly in the oven makes the beef incredibly tender.

One thing I’ve never liked about pot roast was the vegetables. After cooking for hours, they have infused their entire flavor into the meat and juices and no longer look nor taste appetizing. So I do something unconventional. I cook the pot roast with only half of the vegetables in the recipe.

After a few hours, I remove and discard the soggy, limp pieces of carrot, celery, onion, herbs and garlic that have flavored my meat and are unwelcome on my plate. I then replace them with fresh pieces of carrot, celery and potatoes. Another 30-40 minutes in the oven and I have a pot filled with tender, flavorful meat surrounded by firm, bright and delicious vegetables to serve.

§     One 3 to 4 pound boneless chuck roast
§     2 or 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
§     1 whole onions, peeled and quartered
§     4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled
§     4 large potatoes, peeled
§     7 - 8 carrots, peeled
§     7 - 8 stalks of celery
§     1 cup red wine (optional)
§     1 cup beef broth
§     3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
§     6 or 8 sprigs fresh thyme
§     1/2 cup parsley sprigs
§     Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously season meat on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a thin coat of vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed skillet or Dutch oven and add seasoned meat. Over a medium high heat, sear roast on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Reduce to medium heat. With the meat in the center, add the onion, whole garlic cloves, carrots and celery.

Since I am going to discard these vegetables, I typically select the thinner, less desirable carrots and celery stalks. If all of the carrots are thin, use the thinner half to flavor the dish and the thicker ends to eat.  Add stock, red wine, (if you are not using wine, double the amount of beef broth), Worcestershire Sauce, half of the thyme and parsley. Bring to boil, cover, place in oven and roast for 2 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.

When the beef is fork tender, remove from oven and discard all of the vegetables, herbs and aromatics.

Replace them with the remaining carrots, celery and potatoes.

All of the vegetables should be similar in size. Add the remaining thyme and parsley springs and season the vegetables with salt and pepper. There should be at least 1/2 inch of juice at the bottom of the pan. If not, add a little water.

Place in oven and continue to cook for another 30 – 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the potatoes cooked through. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the vegetables.

For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Pot Roast.  Enjoy!


  1. Thank you for the bread recipe and the pot roast recipe.

    I lived in Howell down the street from your dad's glass store. My parents owned Southard General Store.

    I use to wait on your mom and dad all the time. They were so nice to Abe and Grace and me when they came into the store to buy items.

    Are your parents still alive?

    Thanks again Rhonda.....

    Faye Koenig Canape

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  2. I made a variation of this tonight by cooking it a crockpot for 6 hours, then replacing the gross looking vegetables (the potatoes and carrots looked having been cooked at low heat). Nevertheless, I still added more including some yellow and purple carrots for color. Delicious!!! Thanks for posting this.