Not Your Mother’s Pot Roast

Pot Roast – the bastion of 1950’s kitchen cuisine.  A foundation for countless recipes using leftovers.  Gentle reminder of Sunday night dinners everywhere conjuring images of women in pearls and oven mitts.  Comfort food at its’ peak.

I’ve never really been a big fan of pot roast and not because of the misogynistic images it summons in my mind.  To be honest, it was just too much meat for one girl to handle.  Having lived alone for so many years, I found it easier to stick to chicken, shrimp or sausage – something more manageable and something I wouldn’t be eating For Ev Er.

When I began cooking regularly for three, I dusted off the ‘ol crockpot (really, not that old, it was a gift from my dear friend Rob when he found out I was moving to Portland,) and bought a big hunk of meat.

The first few times I made it I just followed the recipe on the back of the Lipton Onion  Soup Mix box.  It was pretty simple, really: potatoes, carrots, meat and soup mix.  All I had to do was brown the meat in oil, throw everything in the crockpot, add a little water and presto!  Dinner was ready in just 6-8 hours.  (Joel always wanders into the kitchen to get his first cup of coffee with a confused look on his face after I’ve browned the meat.  “Why does it smell like fried cow?” he asks, but then he sees the crockpot on the counter and it all makes sense.) The results of the basic recipe were good, just nothing to really write home about.

So this past weekend I decided to spice the recipe up a bit.  I added a few shallots, mixed red and gold potatoes and added some good red wine to the mix.  I kinda wish I hadn’t have used the 10 hour setting because the vegetables got a little mushy and the beef dried out a bit, but other than that it tasted really good.  I think the red wine added a little depth to the flavor and the mix of red and gold potatoes was nice.

I served it with some fresh English Peas (which Joel swears taste like candy and are sooo much better fresh) and Homemade Bread (straight from the oven.)  Our own little Sunday night dinner was complete.

(I took the rest of the peas, some pot roast and vegetables to work on Monday and the leftovers were delicious!)

Heather’s Pot Roast, serves 6
2 Yukon Gold potatoes
2 Red potatoes
4-6 carrots, depending on thickness
2 whole shallots, peeled and split
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tbsp fresh thyme
3 tbsp shortening
3-3 ¾ lb pot roast
¼ cup water
½ cup bold red wine (preferably a cab or zin)
1 package Lipton Onion Soup mix

Dice the potatoes and carrots into 1 ½” pieces and line the bottom of the crockpot.  Add the shallots.  Sprinkle the rosemary and thyme over the top of the vegetables.  Melt the shortening in a heavy bottomed saucepan large enough to hold the roast.  Lightly brown each side of the roast and place it on top of the vegetables.  Mix the water, wine and soup mix and pour over the roast.  Cook for 8 hours.

2 comments on “Not Your Mother’s Pot Roast

  1. joshdaddy
    February 24, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    I’ve recently come around to pot roast as well–never was a big fan of it growing up (that and Sunday’s roast beef–ugh!). When I discovered what a crowd-pleaser it was at our household, I added into our rotation.

    I also think you are describing an important cooking shibboleth here–there are those of us who are regularly up before the sun browning big hunks of beef, and then there are those who are thoroughly baffled by the idea!

    • Heather
      March 2, 2011 at 10:19 am #

      Of course the dog loves the idea of me browning beef in the morning. I think he anticipates the finished roast as much as the rest of us. If you have any variations to share, I’d love to see them. Thanks!

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