I’m not sure why, but I woke up this morning craving my mom’s pot roast–so much so, that I was at the grocery store by 8:30 am, buying meat.
This is how I make it. My mother taught me how, but I have added (and subtracted) a few things to conform to our tastes. But essentially, it tastes the same as it did when she would put it on the table, covered in its savory gravy. And the house smelled like heaven on earth.
My mother did not put carrots or potatoes in hers, and neither do I. I like to make mashed potatoes to go along with it, because that fabulous gravy needs something creamy to adorn. I usually make glazed carrots to go alongside.
1 beef shoulder roast, any size (the cut of meat is all-important; you want something, like shoulder or chuck, that has a lot of connective tissue. A “better” cut of meat just won’t work)
1/2 a large sweet onion, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
flour for gravy
Dry the roast well with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (At this point, my mother always slivered pieces of garlic and made little cuts all over the meat, inserting the garlic in the cuts. I don’t do this, because Larry thinks that the garlic flavor is overwhelming. Your mileage may vary, and I certainly recommend trying it if you like garlic). Heat the oil until very hot, in a Dutch oven which will accommodate the entire roast. Lay the roast in the Dutch oven and cook over high heat, without disturbing the meat, for at least 5-6 minutes. You can lift a corner of the roast to see how things are progressing, but a lovely, seared brown crust on the meat is what you are going for. Then turn it over and brown the other side.
After the meat looks like the picture above, on both sides, remove it from the pan. Add the onions and stir them around a little. They will give up their juice and deglaze the pan, turning a little brown in the process. Cook them until they are translucent. Then put the meat back into the pan, resting it on the onions.
Cover the pan tightly (if your lid does not fit tightly, put a piece of foil under it. Place the Dutch oven into a 300 degree oven and cook, without opening the pan, for at least 2 1/2 hours. Long, slow cooking is important. I usually cook mine for about 3 hours at 300.
After the wait is over, and your house smells so good your husband and your dogs are salivating, take the roast from the oven. Remove the meat from the pan and keep it warm. You will have some incredibly flavorful, browned pan juices in there, along with the onions. When you stir it, the onions will pretty much disappear because they have cooked so long, but they will give their life essence to that liquid. At this point, to make the gravy, you will have to eyeball it, because I don’t measure the amount of flour I put in. The general rule is 2 tablespoons to every cup of liquid you are going to want to thicken. I guess I used about 1/4 cup flour today, which I put into a jar with enough cold water to dissolve the flour, and shook it up. Anyway, put the braising liquid back onto a burner, get it really hot, and then stir in the flour/liquid mixture, stirring/whisking constantly. If you don’t stir vigorously, you will get lumps, but if you do, you can always strain it. It will thicken right away. If it’s too thick, just add a little more water, or beef broth if you like. When the gravy looks lovely and thick and rich, add the meat back in (I usually slice mine before putting it back) and ladle the gravy back over the meat.