January 12, 2015

The Ultimate Comfort Food: Mom’s Perfect Pot Roast

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When I was growing up, my mother cooked dinner every night with the exception of Saturdays–that was her designated “day off” when my family usually found ourselves dining at restaurants. I mean, it was the least we could do–the woman effortlessly turned out the most delicious, from-scratch meals on a daily basis and, to this day, I still don’t know how she did it (especially without once employing a measuring cup). Everything she made–even quick bites and sandwiches–was comfort food. Or, more appropriately, comforting food. Though she passed away a decade ago, I find myself missing her most on those quiet Sunday afternoons when I’m shuffling around the kitchen and sifting through her old recipe books and notes in an effort to come up with something to cook for dinner. See, in my childhood home Sunday dinner was everything. It was a time to gather, reflect and of course eat and my heart sorely misses those days.

Pot Roast_Wine Glass_Edited

My food memories are so strong that sometimes the yeasty smell of baked bread or the pungency of cooked cabbage can lull me right back into my mother’s kitchen. All I know about food and cooking I owe to my mother and so it’s in this spirit of gratitude that I decided to make her absolutely perfect pot roast today. While I’m certain I’ll never match her kitchen wizardry, I must commend myself for coming pretty darn close.

I love heading to my local ShopRite this time of the year–I especially love a long stroll through the produce section. There’s no shortage of seasonal herbs and vegetables and I often find myself shopping for ingredients for hearty soups, casseroles, and comfort food dishes. This pot roast is so simple to make and will fill your house and kitchen with the most wonderful aroma.


1 whole chuck roast (4 – 5 lbs.)

2 tablespoons ShopRite olive oil

2 whole onions

8 whole carrots (unpeeled and chopped on the bias)

1 cup red wine (NOT cooking wine; I used a 2009 Chambourcin from Lehigh Valley winery Clover Hill.)

2 – 3 cups ShopRite beef stock

3 sprigs fresh rosemary (leave intact)

4 sprigs fresh thyme (leave intact)

Salt (to taste)

Freshly ground pepper (to taste)


Step 1
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.Hopefully, you’ve chosen a well-marbled* cut of meat. Liberally salt and pepper your chuck roast.* Refers to the white lines of fat running through the meat that will melt and add flavor as it cooks.
Step 2
Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Step 3
Cut two onions in half (removing skins) and cut 8 carrots into 2-inch slices (you can peel them, but it’s not necessary). When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved onions, browning them on one side and then the other, about 1 minute per side. Remove the onions to a plate.
Step 4
Add the carrots to the same hot pan and, using tongs, toss them around a bit until slightly browned, approximately 1 – 2 minutes.
Step 5
If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the hot pan. Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is browned all over. Remove the roast to a plate.
Step 6
With the burner still on high, use approximately 1 cup of either red wine or beef broth to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Step 7
When the bottom of the pan is deglazed (free of any stuck-on bits), return the roast to the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion and the carrots, as well as the sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme, making sure to submerge the herbs in the liquid. (At this moment, I also added another 1/4 cup of red wine to the pan, but it’s not necessary.)
Step 8
Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 4 hours. When finished, remove roast from liquid and slice or use two forks to shred. Serve immediately over mashed potatoes, polenta or egg noodles.

Pot Roast_McCARTHY, Iris









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