At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I always felt really connected to the housewife, homemaker side of myself. I never intended to become a Chef at all, I wanted to be a lawyer but decided against it when I was in University for a few reasons, one, I wanted to be out on my own starting my life sooner rather than later and Law was a six-year commitment and two, I knew I wanted to get married to my then boyfriend, now husband and that I’d want to have babies and stay home. I knew this was unrealistic as a lawyer but I loved to cook and decided to go to cooking school, which gave me a skill and was a much shorter program.
As soon as I went into a professional kitchen for the first time it was like a light went on inside me that has never gone out. I had always loved to cook and intended to be the best housewife ever when I grew up but until I got in that kitchen I didn’t know I was really a Chef; I never feel more at home or more like myself than when I’m cooking.
So what does any of this have to do with Pot Roast, well, I make pot roast all the time, my whole family adores it and looks forward to it when I tell them that we’re having it for dinner. It reminds me of exactly what I think a perfect housewife/homemaker makes for her family. It takes me out of my “Chef” role and allows me to explore my “housewife” side.
When I was a banquet Chef I made more Prime ribs than I can count for different events, the name of the game was to reach that perfect internal temperature to a perfect medium rare in the center and never to embarrass myself by getting even slightly above Medium rare. The difficulty in this is that I had to make 7-10 prime ribs at a time and they were all varied in size, shape and placement in the oven. I also had to allow them to rest for about three hours to redistribute the juices but they would continue to cook slightly (carry over cooking) while they rested and they had to remain warm for our guests, it was not easy but I pride myself on being quite good at it. Pot roast is soooo much easier and really it’s a matter of planning ahead to ensure you have the time to break down the proteins in a tough cut of meat with a long cooking process. I usually do mine in the slow cooker but a large enamel pot with a lid will work just fine too.
Always keep in mind that you’ll get about 20-25% shrinkage on the meat after its cooked, so if you are feeding a crowd, take the total weight of the roast, deduct 25% to be safe and divide by about 5-8 oz per person. Most women will eat 3 or 4 oz. kids are usually about 3oz max and men will typically eat 5-8oz. FYI Teenage boys will eat the whole thing and then ask to order pizza.
Perfect Pot Roast
5-7 lbs Outside Round Roast
1 Tbsp. Better Than Bullion Beef
4 Cups Beef Broth
1 Whole onion (red or yellow), peeled and cut into wedges
3 Large Carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
4 Celery Stalks, washed well and cut into thirds
2 Cups Red wine (good enough to drink)
1-2 Bay Leafs, dry or fresh
3-4 Cloves Garlic, whole
5-6 Sprigs of fresh thyme or 2-3 Tsp dried
2 Tsp Ground black pepper
1/2 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
Kosher Salt and Freshly ground black pepper for the roast
Clean the roast with a very sharp paring or boning knife by cutting off any excess fat, so anything ticker than 1/4 inch and any silver skin which looks like a shiny membrane covering the surface of the meat. Once clean, cover he entire roast including the ends with flaked kosher salt ( or sea saI like Windsor) and fresh ground black pepper (yes it makes a difference).
Now we need to sear the meat to get the nice crust and color to the outside of the meat. Do not skip this step, the long braising of this meat will not add any color to the roast and you will end up with a delicious but grey looking roast and a pale light brown gravy.
The meat can be seared a couple of ways, it’s important that the meat is entirely defrosted as wet meat will not sear well, beyond that, you have a choice of searing in a pan with some oil over high heat turning onto every surface as you achieve the desired crust and golden brown color. To do this make sure you open some windows and have the exhaust fan going, it gets very smoky in the house but that’s fairly normal. Use a high temperature oil like canola or peanut not olive oil. The other method is to sear it at a high temperature on the barbecue, I prefer this method, you get some grill marks which look a bit unusual on a pot roast but you achieve the same goal and less mess and smoke. Just make sure you sear every side and the ends of the meat to get that great color on the meat which will translate to an amazing gravy.
Put all the ingredients except the roast into a slow cooker or enamel pot, stir to combine and break up the bouillon and mustard. Place the seared roast into the pot, surrounding it with the broth and aromatics. Cover with the lid and set for 8 hours on max.
After the eight hours is complete, turn off the slow cooker, check for tenderness. Remove the pot roast and allow it to rest on a cutting board tented with aluminum foil (not tightly covered) Strain off about 1/2 – 3/4 of the liquid into a pot and bring to a boil. Thicken with a cornstarch slurry of 2 Tbsp. cornstarch to 4 tbsp cold water, stir together to get rid of the lumps and add a little at a time to the boiling liquid while stirring continuously. You may not need all of the slurry so add just a bit at time until you reach the desired thickness. Keep in mind that cornstarch does not fully thicken until it boils. Slice the roast into 1/2 inch tick pieces, it may shred slightly if it’s very tender, that’s ok, place any chunks or large pieces that fell off onto the platter. Ladle some of the gravy on the bottom of a platter that has a bit of a lip; Shingle the pieces onto the platter and ladle more of the gravy on top. Serve gravy on the side in a gravy boat.
This should be served with beautiful roasted carrots, turnips or Brussel sprouts and some mashed potatoes or cauliflower. (see vegetable side recipes)
It’s fun to make old-fashioned, nostalgic feeling meals like this and I know for sure guests and families look forward to it. I hope you try this recipe and really enjoy it with the people you love.