Pot roast is not the most exciting food, but it provides comfort as well as some funny, heartwarming memories of a time when I learned to cook. First of all, the evolution of my cooking skills resembled a fickle teenager with a crush. I started out gingerly, not knowing the right ingredients. I advanced forward and became more confident. Then, once my children arrived, I lost all interest in cooking.
It’s time to remedy that issue with an easy classic meal: pot roast. But first, let me provide a little background on that evolution.
The early twenties are an odd age. The freedom is great, but it means it’s a time to take care of your life. What did I do? I lived with my grandmother whose favorite television shows were Matlock, Murder She Wrote, and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Honestly, I grew to love those shows or maybe it was just spending time with my grandmother. So much for living the life of Carrie Bradshaw and friends. Maybe it wasn’t exciting, but that boredom and comfort proved essential in my initial cooking lessons.
After work, I’d pick up a cooking magazine at the bookstore or I’d watch cooking shows with my mom whose autoimmune disease was rapidly taking her life. Obviously, I was not the typical young woman. I wanted to spend my time with my mom and grandmother before they were gone so I started to cook. I branched out once I moved into my own apartment. Oddly enough, I cooked more after my mom, an excellent cook, passed away. Maybe it’s not so strange. Cooking was a connection to her, a way to recreate her favorite recipes, and bring her into the kitchen with me.
As I became a mom, my cooking skills quickly faded.
The exhaustion of new motherhood created a gulf between my love of cooking and the strong need for sleep. Now, I’m ready to revive my cooking skills and to start my own homemade cooking school. Gradually, I’ve starting experimenting with delectable home cooked meals or comfort food. Those meals our moms fixed when it was cold outside and when they needed to feed a small army. Here’s the first one which is a mix of pot roast recipes from Cook’s Illustrated and The Pioneer Woman.
1 boneless chuck eye roast (2 ½ pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6-8 large carrot, chopped medium
1 celery rib, chopped medium
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 cup beef broth
½ cup dry red wine (optional), you can use ½ beef broth instead.
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 300F degrees.
Sprinkle meat with tablespoon of salt and pepper.
You can either let it sit at room temperature for an hour OR sear the meat on all sides. Once seared remove meat and set aside.
Heat butter in heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook, until softened and turning brown (about 10 minutes). Remove and set aside. Add carrots and celery, continue to cook for about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside with onions. Add garlic, stir in 1 cup of broth, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme sprig, and deglaze pan.
Place meat in Dutch oven. Add in the onions, carrots, and celery as well as a ½ cup of beef broth.
Cover pot with large piece of foil and cover with lid, transfer pot to oven. Cook three hours until sharp knife slips easily slips in and out of meat.
Transfer roasts to cutting board and tent with foil.
At this point, you can use the pan sauce and veggies to spoon over mashed potatoes, small roasted red potatoes, or egg noodles or if you have an immersion blender, you can make a thicker sauce by blending veggies and sauce and then spooning over the potatoes.