I’m going to let you in on a secret. Well, it’s not that much of a secret really.
My mom pretty much hates to cook. It’s not one of her gifts, really. She’s great at sewing and doing things with color and listening to your problems and a lot of other things, but would prefer to not have to cook anything ever.
That being said, she makes a good pot roast. And if my mom makes it, you know that it can’t be complicated.
There’s basically only one secret to a great pot roast– cook it for a long time at low heat. In fact, it’s pretty darn hard to overcook a pot roast. You gotta keep cooking the darn thing until the meat just falls apart. If it doesn’t fall apart when you put a fork in it, keep cookin’ it, friend.
Ok, so for my mom’s pot roast you’ll need a chuck roast (mine was about 2.5 lbs.), carrots, potatoes, onions… and some seasonings and stuff.
I started with some homegrown carrots. We planted a kaleidoscope mix of carrot seeds. The white ones did best, but we also got 1 yellow and 1 orange. I was hoping for some purple ones, but none of them grew.
We only got 5 carrots, but compared to what we got last year…
… I’m just excited they were full-size.
Anyway. 5 carrots isn’t enough. So I supplemented with some from a bag from the groschery schtore.
Ok, here’s the deal. Pot roast carrots are some of the most delicious things ever. Ever.
So I don’t skimp on the carrots. And there have never been extra.
You’ll also need potatoes. Don’t use Russet here. They don’t roast that well, and get all mealy and gross. Go for red potatoes or gold ones, like these. You won’t regret it.
These, I may have overestimated. I’m just telling it like it is.
Also a couple onions. Actually, I’m not sure if my mom puts onions in hers. But I do. Cuz they’re delish.
I had to scrub the carrots from my garden really well because they still had dirt on them, so I decided to scrub all of them well instead of peeling. But I usually peel my carrots.
Potatoes, on the other hand, I don’t peel. You can peel them if you’re anti-potato-skin. But me, I’m anti-extra-work, myself. So I just clean ’em off and cut ’em up.
Cut all the vegetables up into chunks.
Then take your roast and sear it. I cooked my pot roast in the Crock Pot, but you can also do it in your oven in a large Dutch oven. Either way will work well. Since I was using the Crock Pot, I seared my meat in a skillet. If you’re doing it in a Dutch oven, you can just sear it in there and save a dish.
Sear it until it’s nice and brown on both sides, and if the sides are thick, you can sear those, too.
Remove the roast, put it on a plate and set it aside. You’ll have a lot of good stuff left in the pan that we want to put into the pot roast.
We’ll need to deglaze the pan to get the good stuff off. So pour in some beef broth.
And stir it around until all the deliciousness gets unstuck.
Note: if you don’t have beef broth on hand, but have beef bouillon cubes, you can just do this with a little water and then put the bouillon cube in the pot later. Just make sure to stir it up part way through the cooking process.
Put the roast and all the vegetables into your Crock Pot and pour the broth mixture over the top. Or, if you’re using a Dutch oven, put the vegetables and the roast into the pot with the broth.
I put my roast on top of the vegetables when I started this, but later changed my mind and put it on the bottom so it would be closer to the heating element and cook better. If you cook it in a Dutch oven, you can put the meat on top of the vegetables and it will cook just fine.
Anyway. At this point, my mom adds a packet of Lipton Onion Soup mix. This is a totally great flavor addition. But I didn’t have any. So I did a little internet searching and found some suggestions. I added dried minced onion…
and celery seed, and onion powder. This made for a very similar flavor. I didn’t actually measure any of those, just sprinkled some on. I would estimate about 2 tbsp. minced onion, and 1/4 tsp of the celery seed & onion powder.
So here are your choices for cooking:
-On Low in the Crock Pot for 8-10 hours
-On High in the Crock Pot for 4-6 hours
-In the oven (in a Dutch oven) at 275〫 for 3-4 hours.
The lower and slower, the better, but you’ll still get a good roast with any of these options. I find it easiest to pick the option that works best for my schedule. If I’m going to leave the house while it’s going, Crock Pot is the only option. And if you want to put it together in the morning before work? Do it on low. Want to be able to eat it for Sunday dinner after church? Put it on high.
In any case, cook it until the meat is completely falling apart. That’s how you’ll know it’s done. The exact time will vary based on your particular cut of meat.
Even though we put very little liquid in at the beginning, there will be a lot of juices when it’s done. And if you want to, you can make a gravy with them.
First, drain the juices into something pourable, like a glass measuring cup.
Then, in a skillet, melt about 3-4 tablespoons of butter, and then whisk in 2-3 tablespoons of flour.
Cook this up for a few minutes, whisking constantly. (The picture above has a little higher flour:butter ratio than is ideal. It happens.)
Slowly pour in the juices, whisking constantly. Cook until thickened, but remember that the gravy will continue to thicken a bit as it cools, so take it off the heat before it gets quite as thick as you want it.
I’m going to be honest. This wasn’t the best gravy I ever made. I was kind of sloppy about it and forgot to put my juices into something ahead of time. And I was trying to take pictures at the same time. And Little Man was yelling like he always does when I cook dinner. So mine ended up kind of lumpy. But you can learn from my mistakes.
So here it is, friends. All plated up. See how the meat is all shredded? I did that with 2 forks and very little pressure. The meat is super tender and full of flavor. And the carrots– don’t forget the carrots. Goodness. Those are tasty.
Add a little gravy, and there you go. A full dinner, all in one pot. And the Crock Pot does most of the work for you.
This recipe is really flexible. If you have a big family, use a big roast and more vegetables (so long as it can fit in your pot.) Love potatoes? Use a lot. Basically just put as many vegetables as you think your family/friends/neighbors/strangers you met on the street will eat. Your cook time will vary based on the size of your roast, but by the time the meat is done, your vegetables will be done whether you have more or less of them.
Simple, wholesome, and delicious. My kind of meal!