Sunday dinners at my Grandpa & Grandma Percival’s house when I was growing up almost always followed the same menu. Pot roast with potatoes, corn, salad and a weird jello and fruit concoction that still shows up at every family dinner even though no one seems to actually like it. My grandma was never really known for her cooking, but I always loved this meal. To this day, pot roast is one of my favorite foods.
What my grandma is really known for is her frugality. I wish I had absorbed a little more of that, but one thing I did learn from her was how to make the most of inexpensive ingredients in the kitchen. She could take what was probably the cheapest, toughest piece of meat and turn it into something wonderful. Her secret? Give it a good sear on the stovetop, then in the oven for a nice, slow cook at a low temperature. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of roast you start out with, the results are always perfectly tender and flavorful.
Grandma usually just used a little water or broth for cooking liquid. I’m sure she would gasp in horror at wasting wine in this manner, but I love the extra flavor it lends to the meat and veggies and it makes it all even more tender. The meat just falls apart and melts in your mouth. I love the way carrots taste when they are cooked with it, and it seems like we always fought over the carrots so I put in a lot. You can add potatoes too if you have room in your cooking pot, or just cook them separately. I wanted garlic smashed potatoes to go with this to make the most of the gravy, so I did them on the stovetop by themselves while everything else cooked in the oven.
By the way, this also cooks nicely in a slow cooker if you don’t have time for this method. I still sear the meat on the stove, then add all ingredients to the crock pot (cut cooking liquid in half). Cook on low all day.
Not Quite My Grandma’s Pot Roast
Chuck roast (or any kind of beef roast, whatever size you want, I usually use a 1-2 pound roast for my little family)
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup red wine
1 onion, sliced
2-4 cups baby carrots
Sprinkle roast with salt, pepper and rosemary and rub all over.
Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat and add butter to pan. Swirl around to coat the pan and add the roast. Cook 2-3 minutes until there is a good sear on the bottom, then using tongs or a fork, turn roast over and sear the other side for 2-3 minutes.
Heat oven to 350˚. Sprinkle onion slices on top of the roast and pour wine over the whole thing.
Cover and place in oven. Cook for 1 hour. Add carrots (and potatoes, if you want) to the pan and cover again. Reduce heat to 250˚. Cook another 2 hours at least.
Remove roast and veggies and put on a serving platter, reserving juice in the pan.
To make gravy: In a small bowl or cup mix 1 cup water or milk (I usually use half of each) with 1 tbsp. cornstarch using a fork or whisk until there are no lumps. Bring reserved roast juices to a boil, scraping any bits of stuff off the bottom and sides of the pan as well. Add cornstarch mixture and stir constantly with a whisk until thickened. Taste and add salt & pepper if needed. Serve with roast and veggies.