Classic Pot Roast

February 2, 2013

When speaking of food, “old-fashioned” usually implies something tried-and-true, delicious, and taking more time or effort than today’s culture is willing to invest. I think of Pot Roast as old-fashioned; requiring more time than effort. So why haven’t I ever in my life made a Pot Roast? Because If I’m going to spend 6 hours making dinner, then I want it to be spectacular, and my impression of Pot Roast has always been that it is merely average. Today’s recipe was a success with both boys (the picky eater and the Junior Chef) both eating several helpings.  I did learn a few things: (1) a 3-1/2 pound roast is too small to divide into two parts while still remaining slice-able. Use a 4-1/2 pounder, or don’t separate into two mini-roasts is Step 1. (2) Check the roast after 3 hours in the oven. Overcooking will result in a dry roast. (3) Start the roast by Noon for a 6PM dinner so that you can keep the oven temperature to 300-degrees.  There were a few other minor issues (see comments below), but it turned out delicious; 4-stars.

I had to slice thick than 1/2"; too tender.

I had to slice thick than 1/2″; too tender.


  1. My Pot Roast was a little dry, which I think was a result of overcooking. Because I started the roast late (at 1PM), I increase the temperature to 315-degrees to ensure dinner wasn’t pushed past 7PM. A little more planning on my part will mean ensure that I can keep the oven temperature to 300-degrees.
  2. The Roast size (3-1/2 to 4 pounds) was perfect for a hungry family of four (including mashed potatoes). So Chris Kimball claims that this will serves 6 to 8 people seems too optimistic. I think 4-1/2 pounds is a better size, both in terms of serving more people (and having some leftovers), but also because splitting a 3-1/2 pound roast into two mini-roasts meant that the roasts were too tender, too easily shed-able, so that I had to cut into 1″-slices rather than 1/2″-slices.
  3. This recipe makes way too much gravy; 3 cups when I needed less than 1 cup. I would cut the gravy ingredients in half for those given below. The extra gravy wasn’t worth the 2 extra cups of broth I added in Step 10.
  4. Chris Kimball says that chilling the whole cooked roast overnight will improve the flavor. Also that it will be more moist.
  5. The recipe calls for three pieces of twine per min-roast. If you plan for four pieces of twine, then you should be good. But by starting with three, I ended up use five pieces to fix it.
  6. While 1 carrot did indeed yield 1 cup of chopped carrots, I needed 2 celery stalks to get the 3/4 of a cup.

Rating: 4-stars
Cost: $16
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium/High.
Started: 1:00 PM.  Ready:  7:00 PM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

3-1/2 to 4-pound boneless beef chuck-eye roast
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions
1 large carrot, medium chop (1 cup)
1 to 2 celery rib, medium chop (3/4 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves
Total of 2 to 3 cup beef broth
Total of 3/4 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme leaves (added before the 4 hour’s cooking)
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (added at the end)
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  1. If you have a chuck-eye roast, then you will see that it has a natural seam. Pull it into two smaller roasts and trim away any large chunks of fat. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon kosher salt (or 1-1/2 teaspoons of table salt), and put on a wire rack and allow to sit at room temperature 1 hour.
  2. After 30 minutes, cut 2 medium onions in half and slice them thinly (sliced regularly; not pole-to-pole), which should yield about 2 cups. Place a Dutch oven over medium burner and add 2 tablespoons butter. Once the foaming subsides, add sliced onions and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until they are beginning to brown; stir occasionally.
  3. While onions cook, adjust a rack to lower-middle of your oven, and pre-heat to 300 degrees. Chop your carrots and celery into medium chunks. Peel 2 medium garlic cloves. Also cut eight 12″ lengths of kitchen twine.
  4. Add chopped carrot and celery to Dutch oven, and continue to cook for 5 more minutes; again stir occasionally. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  5. Add in 1 cup beef broth, 1/2 cup red wine, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 bay leaf, and 1 thyme sprig. Bring up to simmer.
  6. Meanwhile, use paper towels to pat the beef dry. Season liberally with freshly ground pepper. Tie up each piece of meat separately into loaf shape using 4 to 5 pieces of kitchen twine, which will ensure even cooking.
  7. Place meat on top of vegetables. Cover Dutch oven with large piece of Aluminum foil then cover with the lid, which will trap all of the moister inside the pot. Bake at 300-degrees for 3-1/2 to 4 hours, rotating pot halfway through cooking time.
  8. Check the roast after 3 hours for doneness to ensure that your don’t overcook. When done, a sharp knife will easily slip in-and-out of the meat.
  9. Allow the roast to rest on a cutting board loosely tented with aluminum foil while making the gravy.
  10. Pour the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a 4-cup measuring cup (I only ended up with 1 cup of liquid). Let to sit for 5 minutes and skim any fat from the surface. Add enough broth so that you have 3 cups of liquid.
  11. Fish the bay leaf and spring of thyme from the vegetables and put in blender. Add the 3-cups liquid to the blender. Blend for 2 minutes until it becomes smooth.
  12. Add gravy to a saucepan placed over medium burner to heat. Meanwhile, remove the twine and slice the roast into 1/2″-thick pieces. Arranging on a serving plate.
  13. Finish the gravy by adding chopped thyme, another 1/4-cup red wine and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Adjust salt and pepper according to your taste. Pour part of the gravy directly over the meat on the serving platter, and pass additional gravy in a gravy boat.

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