As it gets colder outside, I find myself opting for comfort food like Pot Roast. Simple in its preparation, yet takes a bit of patience and timing to obtain that melt in your mouth softness that a properly cooked roast is capable of providing it’s consumer. To start, you’ll want to grab a few things:
1. A heavy bottomed pot large enough for your cut of meat with a properly fitting lid. Unless you are opting to include enough vegetables to feed a small army, a smaller one is ideal to prevent yourself from boiling the meat (yep, this is bad) or having enough left overs so that you are forced to eat pot roast for 7 days.
2. A large cutting board. I tend to use plastic ones, but honestly anything that is washable works.
3. A paring knife. You could use a chef’s knife, or anything sharp…I just usually grab the closest one in the knife block.
4. A fork. A spoon. And a plate large enough to place your meat. And a 1 TBSP measuring spoon and 1 cup liquid measuring cup. Or approximate and skip the extra dishes. We do not have a dishwasher, so the less dishes the better in my book.
5. Your meat. I tend to buy cheaper cuts and doctor them with rubs to enhance the flavor and maximize the amount I can spend on other items, like produce at our *amazing* Dane County Farmer’s Market http://dcfm.org/ held on the capital square. For this recipe, I am using a 1.5 lb roast.
6. Vegetables: 1 large shallot, 1 medium yellow onion, 4-6 medium gold potatoes (any variety you like), and 1/2 a lb of baby carrots. Note: you can utilize other onion, potato or carrot options, but these are the easiest to work with.
7. Seasonings and flavor components: pepper in a grinder, kosher salt, your favorite steak seasoning (I like Mitchell Street or Chicago from Penzeys which can be found here https://www.penzeys.com/ if in an area without this lovely place), 2 TBSPS better than bouillion beef base, 2 TBSPS whole grain mustard, 1 TBSP Worcester sauce, 1 TBSP ketchup. Oh, and don’t forget the olive oil!
To make 2-4 servings:
Step 1: Pour 1 TBSP olive oil into your heavy bottomed pan and place it over a burner set to medium heat. While it’s heating, place your meat on it’s plate and sprinkle with several pinches of salt and 10 turns of the pepper mill and about 6 shakes of your steak seasoning. Pat it down, flip the meat, and repeat on the 2nd side. Some seasonings will be on the plate…don’t waste them! Carefully dip the other extra edges into this excess until the whole cut of meat is covered.
Your oil should now be hot enough to sear the meat and lock in some flavor. Carefully drop the beef into your heated pan and listen for a sizzle. In mere seconds you will begin to smell the delicious aroma of the cooking process. Rinse the plate and reserve. While the meat is searing on the first side, which takes about 3 minutes, finely dice the shallot. Then flip the meat using your fork, and utilize the next 3 minutes to sear the 2nd side and cut the onion into 6 or 8 large chunks. At this point start cooking the meat on the edges so that the entire cut has been browned. Place back on the plate.
Step 3: Toss in the shallots and add 10 turns of pepper from the grinder. When then begin to brown (carmelize), stir occasionally to avoid burning, turn down to medium low and give them about 4 minutes more to finish softening. Fill up the measuring cup with water and pour about 1/3 of its contents directly into the pan to deglaze (aka get the flavor bits into a sauce) adding the better than bouillon beef base, Worcester sauce, mustard, ketchup and the final amount of water. Heat until combined. Taste for flavor and feel free to add elements that speak to you. I personally like shallot pepper from Penzeys, chives or other times smoked paprika.
Step 4: Return the beef to the pan by spearing with a fork and gently placing in the pan. Now add the onion chunks and carrots by evenly placing the chunks throughout the pan, and then literally dumping the baby carrots over the roast. You want enough liquid to go roughly halfway up the roast since as the meat and vegetables cook they will add more liquid to the dish. If you need more liquid, add some! Then cover and set a timer for 45 minutes.
Step 5: While you are waiting prep the potatoes. Everyone has a favorite way to eat them, but for this meal the most important thing is choosing a uniform size for even cooking. I would recommend leaving the skin on. Other than that, whole/half/quartered all work – however keep in mind that the smaller sizes tend to dissolve into mush. When the timer goes off, lift the lid and evenly distribute the potatoes, and then replace the lid as you set the timer once again for 45 minutes.
In actuality, your meat has been cooked since the first time the timer went off. But in order to get the perfect texture, we have been cooking “low & slow”. When the timer goes off the second time, test the beef with a fork. If it pulls easily into chunks with one hand, it’s done, if not, reset the timer for 20 minutes, and keep up the vigil until your desired texture is reached.
Step 7: Eat it!!!!