Talk about one pot cooking with an absolutely filling, flavorsome taste… this is it! It all started when my boss brought in his lunch made from leftovers from what I presume was Sunday’s dinner. Only it looked nothing like leftovers. The aromatic scent of beef pot roast filled my nose and immediately tugged at my appetite; I was having this sorry little excuse of a salad for lunch. He had succulent slices of beef surrounded with big chunks of potato and carrots all tantalizingly garnished with shiny brown gravy. To top it all, he was eating it with as much gusto as you would expect any self –respecting down home cooked meal to be eaten. Anyway I think I stared at his food long enough for him to offer me a bite and let me tell you it tasted as good as it looked! Anyway his wonderful mother-in-law, Mrs. Bailey, was kind enough to share the recipe.
3-4 lbs chuck roast (1.5 to 2 kg)
2 tbs vegetable oil or olive oil (30ml)
½ cup catsup (120ml)
½ cup beef broth (120ml)
2 tbs red wine vinegar (30ml)
2 tbs balsamic vinegar (30ml)
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce (30ml)
1 tsp dried whole rosemary
1 tsp salt
2 medium onions
Brown roast on all sides in the hot oil. Combine next 7 ingredients, pour over the roast. Add the onions, cut in large pieces. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add the potatoes and carrots cut in large chunks. Cover and cook slowly until carrots and potatoes are done about 30 minutes or more.
I made this pot roast countless of times and surmised that a chuck eye roast is the best cut of meat for this. It had enough fat and connective tissue necessary to produce a tender and flavorful roast. A variation of cooking technique which I now exclusively use for braising is just putting it in the oven at 300 °F. I find that I can control the temperature better with this method rather than simmering on a stove top. Meat dries out as it is cooked because moisture is being wrung out of its muscle fibers. If it is cooked at too high a temperature wherein the muscle fibers are cooked dry but the connective tissue composed mainly of collagen has not dissolved yet, then you end up with dry stringy meat. The muscle fibers begin to lose moisture at 120 ° F and the connective tissue starts to break down into gelatin, the substance responsible for tender meat and thick sauces, at 140 °F. I have found from Cook’s Illustrated (March & April 2002), that the magic number is 300 °F. The pot roast cooks in 2 ½ hours and is fork tender. Any temperature higher than this would most likely yield a dry stringy texture since the exterior would be cooked sooner before the interior would have a chance to become tender. (NOTE: I have not tried the "oven method" with poultry or pork, only with beef and lamb)
I find that making it a day ahead (which seems to be my mantra nowadays) allows the flavor to blend so well that no ingredient overpowers the other; you just end up with a very complex mouthfeel of the roast.
Also feel free to experiment with fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme. I’ve also added a bay leaf in my last preparation. Of course as with all roasts, it is important to let the meat rest before slicing it up. That way the juices have a chance to get reabsorbed back into the meat.