Pot Roast is one of those quintessential mid-century dishes that often gets a bad rap. The meat may be too dry, the veggies too mushy, and the whole idea may just seem out of fashion. I’ve recently become a fan of the humble pot roast for several reasons:
- It’s a super easy one-pot meal.
- It’s perfect for Sunday diners and will sustain your household for several days. I just love leftovers, don’t you?
- Starsky & Hutch!
I just have to tell you about the story of the Starsky & Hutch pot roast. It’s one of those moments in the show that’s a real gem, and makes you forgive what was most likely a very ridiculous storyline. Picture one melancholy detective lounging on his partner’s couch, mourning the death of an ex-girlfriend. Picture also, one lanky detective in a yellow turtleneck lighting candles and setting a speckled graniteware pan on the table. With a dramatic flourish, he removes the lid, and the camera zooms in on its contents: Perfectly browned pot roast, surrounded by carrots and potatoes that are glistening with brown gravy. The perfect amount of green garnish (perhaps broccoli) is scattered through the vegetables. The melancholy detective momentarily forgets his sorrow, and cracks a crooked grin. “Hey, that’s my favorite! How did you know?” The lanky detective flashes a smile. “I called your mother up.” Yes, pot roast has magical healing powers. Cooking someone a pot roast is a gift of love.
This episode (called “Lady Blue” if you are interested) convinced me to try making pot roast, and my first attempt accompanied the viewing of the Starsky & Hutch series finale about a year ago. I even found a Granite Ware pan that is similar to Hutch’s. It was inexpensive and has worked great for me. I’ve since made pot roast quite a few times, learning more by reading and trial and error. Here are a few tips:
- Although it can be made with cuts like bottom round, a cut with a little fat, like a chuck roast, helps keep the pot roast moist and flavorful.
- Brown the meat before you put it in the oven. It really helps build the flavor and I love that toasty crust on the edges of the meat.
- Deglazing the pan with red wine is always a good idea.
- Using fresh herbs is lovely. I especially like rosemary.
- Add the veggies for the last 45 minutes of cooking. I hate when the veggies are cooked to hell, and complete mush.
- 3 to 4 pound roast (chuck is my preferred cut)
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups water or beef broth
- Fresh rosemary (one or two sprigs)
- Fresh parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 russet potatoes (peeled and chopped into large chunks)
- 6 carrots (pealed and chopped into large chunks)
- Salt and Pepper
- Olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat a pan on your stovetop to medium high with a little olive oil in the pan.
- Liberally salt and pepper the meat and brown each side in the pan.
- Transfer the meat to a heavy pot with a lid.
- Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of red wine
- Pour the deglazing liquid into the pot with the roast
- Add 2 cups water or beef broth to the pan
- Place sprigs of fresh herbs and bay leaves in the pan
- Cover, put in the oven, and let roast for about 2¼ hours.
- Add the pealed and chopped carrots and potatoes and salt the veggies.
- Continue roasting for 45 more minutes
- Serve with a nice red wine. Starsky would probably suggest a chianti.
I do not tolerate onions well, so I do not add onions. If I could, I would add those to the water/broth at the beginning of the roasting period. They would give a lot of great flavor to the meat and liquid.
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