If you read these pages, you know that we're often fans of truffles, foie gras, turducken, caviar, etc. BUT, some people have asked us what we would recommend for a simple weeknight meal when you barely have time for 1 course, rather than 5. So, we thought we'd put something together that is simple, delicious, and almost universally loved. Yes, you guessed it: Pot Roast, with mashed potatoes and gravy!
Now the key to great pot roast is starting with a good piece of meat, and a high-quality pot. In our case, we found a steal of a deal on a beautiful Wagyu Chuck Roast at Central Market (if you're at the Lovers Lane store, ask for Sam, JC, Roland, or Ray in the meat department--they'll treat you right). The roast we found was approx. 2 1/2 pounds. You could go larger if you need to feed more people. You probably don't want to go much smaller, as you don't want it to dry out while cooking.
As for the pot--a porcelain-coated cast iron dutch oven really does do the trick for these occasions. It's easy to clean, heats evenly, and frankly, looks amazing! We recommend one from Lodge--they're inexpensive, and will last forever! If you like to cook, it's really something you should have.
Next, you'll want tasty, aromatic ingredients to add to your pot roast. Here's a list of everything that you'll need to make a fantastic pot roast:
1 x 2 1/2 to 3 pound high-quality chuck roast
2 cups of chopped or baby carrots
2 cups of roughly-cut onions
2 cups beef or veal stock
2 cups red wine
1 bunch of fresh rosemary
1 bunch of fresh thyme
1 pound of sliced mushrooms
2 pounds of russet potatoes
1 quart of heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste
Start with the baby or sliced carrots, and the roughly-cut onions (roughly 2 cups of each). Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of your dutch oven, and saute the onions and carrots for a few minutes, until they begin to soften. Take out of the pot and reserve till later.
Next, generously salt and pepper the pot roast on all sides, add a little more olive oil to the bottom of your dutch oven, and sear the roast on all sides so that it's nice and brown. Once browned, add 2 cups of beef or veal stock, and 2 cups of red wine to the sides of the meat (don't pour on top--it may wash your salt and pepper off). Then, add your reserved vegetables to the liquid surrounding your roast. Top everything off with an entire bunch of fresh rosemary and a separate bunch of fresh thyme. Gently push the fresh herbs down into the vegetable / liquid mix so that they have a chance to infuse everything with their flavor.
Once you get everything in your porcelain-coated, cast-iron dutch oven, prepare for your house to be bombarded with the most luxurious, amazing, succulent and homey smells known to man. Now comes the easy part--put the lid on, and place in a 275 degree oven for roughly 1 hour per pound of roast (we cooked ours for 3 hours total).
Roughly 20 minutes before you take your roast out of the oven, peel and chop some potatoes and place in a pot to boil with a generous amount of salt. Boil for roughly 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Leave in the hot water until you're ready to mash and serve them.
While you're waiting for the roast to finish cooking, you should also make a roux--a mixture of flour and either melted butter or heavy cream used to thicken your gravy. Here, we use heavy cream. Take approximately 2 cups of heavy cream, and slowly start adding flour, whisking vigorously to ensure there are no lumps. Keep adding flour until the mixture is very thick (like medium-consistency oatmeal), and has no lumps. Set aside when you're done.
About 5 minutes before you take your roast out of the oven, melt a quarter stick of butter in the bottom of a non-stick pan, and saute 1 pound of white / baby bella mushrooms until they brown and soften (you can also use olive oil). Salt and pepper to taste, and reserve to put directly into the dutch oven.
When your roast is fully cooked (or when you simply can't stand the delicious smell any longer), pull the roast out of your oven, and stir in your cooked mushrooms. Put the roast back in the oven and let the flavors meld for another 5-10 minutes.
After the flavors have had time to meld, take the roast back out of the oven, and after the roast has cooled slightly, ladle several cups of the cooking liquid out of your dutch oven into a non-stick pan or shallow pot. This is the base for your gravy. Take the herbs out of the dutch oven, while you're at it, and then put the lid back on the dutch oven--you don't want your roast to get cold.
Bring the mixture of cooking liquid to a boil, and add an additional 1/3 of its volume in heavy cream. Whisk well to mix the cream and meat juices together. When the liquid has started to reduce, slowly begin to whisk in the roux, vigorously stirring the gravy so that no clumps form and so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan or pot. Add roughly 1/2 of your roux, and then stir vigorously while the mixture boils. When it begins to considerably thicken (heavily coats the back of a spoon), it's the right consistency. If it isn't thickening quickly enough, whisk in more roux. Once the gravy is the right consistency, add salt and pepper to taste--no one likes bland gravy!
At this point, you're done. Simply cut up the roast, dish out the vegetables, pour the gravy on the potatoes (or, if you're like me, everything on your plate), and enjoy. It works great with a medium-body wine. Spanish Rioja is a good option. Merlot is as well. Hope you enjoy!