Nothing is more attractive on a cold winter evening than a homemade pot roast that’s been cooking for hours, until the roast simply falls apart at the touch of a fork and melts in your mouth. In my opinion, pot roast is best when accompanied by a ton of hearty vegetables, a rich broth, and some kind of hearty potato side dish. Even better if you can make it in a crock pot so that it’s easy and completely hands-free.
When I first found the Pioneer Woman’s pot roast recipe, I decided that we must be soul mates, because just like she makes so clear, I think that potatoes which have been cooked for four hours with a roast come out tasting less than appealing. I took her agreement for approval, and immediately stopped cooking potatoes in my pot roast. I used her recipe for inspiration as I rethought my old pot roasts, and came up with a new recipe which I’ve become quite fond of. The boyfriend was a fan too, hushing me so that he could better savor the roast while we ate. I took it as a sincere compliment!
This isn’t the easiest roast to make, I suppose, in part because it still takes multiple dishes, but once it is prepped, it requires no attention until it is done. In my opinion, a pot roast that has been seared, along with its vegetables, has a deeper flavor, so I go ahead and sear everything before it goes into the crock pot. Well worth it, but if you’re in a real hurry you could skip that step.
Start by collecting all of the ingredients. A roast, onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips (if you’ve never tried them they are like lightly colored sweet carrots), and turnips. Those make up the hearty base of my roast, I’m partial to vegetable heavy roast. Then for the liquid you’ll want a can or bottle of beer and some beef broth, plus a dash of Worcestershire sauce. This is not the recipe for low-salt beef broth because the salt creates flavor, but if you are on a low salt diet go for it. The flavor gets finished off with salt and pepper, plus thyme, oregano, rosemary, a smattering of crushed red pepper, and a small bit of cocoa powder for richness.
Start with the vegetables. Cut the onions in half, cut off the tops and bottoms, and peel off the skin and outer layer. Wash the carrots extremely thoroughly, trimming spots if necessary, but no need to peel them. Wash and peel the parsnips. Chop both into large pieces, roughly two inches. Wash and peel the turnip, and cut it into pieces roughly the same size as the carrots and parsnips.
In a large pot, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil until extremely hot. Add the vegetables in one sort at a time, allowing them to brown on the outside. They don’t need to cook through, just gain some color. I never did this before finding the Pioneer Woman’s recipe, and can’t believe how much flavor I was missing out on! Set them aside when they’re brown.
Next move on to the roast. The roast is clearly the most important piece of the puzzle. Chuck roast is what I generally use, but I’ve also had good luck with round roast. For just myself and the boyfriend I only use a 2 1/2 pound roast, but this recipe would work for up to a 5 pound roast. Although you’ll need a bigger crock pot. Or fewer vegetables. Prepare the roast by seasoning it on both sides with salt and pepper.
Add more oil to the pan if necessary, then brown the roast on all sides. Use tongs to hold it up while you brown the sides. Remove from pot and place directly in your crock pot, set on low with a splash of broth and beer inside.
Turn up the heat on the pot on the stove top again. Pour in some of the beer and a splash of beef broth, and use a whisk to scrape the brown stuff out of the bottom of the pan. Add all of the spices and whisk together.
Now turn your attention back to the crock pot. Pour all of the lovely juices, spices and brown bits from the pot into the crock pot. Add beer. For my small roast, I used about half a beer. If it had been a less strong beer (such as Yuengling or a light beer), I may have used more. Add enough beef broth to cover the meat. (If you decide to make this on the stove, the liquid should cover roughly 2/3 of the meat, working on the assumption that your pot will be a wider vessel than the crock of a crock pot.)
Add in all of the vegetables, onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips, and turnip pieces to the crock pot or large pot. Add extra liquid if you feel the need, better to have too much than not enough.
Cover the crock pot and cook on low for roughly 8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hrs. The roast is done when it can be pulled apart with a fork, and is cooked all the way through. The vegetables should be tender enough to be speared by a fork. Alternate cooking method for oven included below.
Plate some of the beef and vegetables, and pour some of the juice over the top. Serve with potatoes. I served this with roasted red potatoes, which are super easy to make and only take about half an hour to make. Or you could serve with mashed potatoes, as the Pioneer Woman suggests. Or baked potatoes. You really can’t go wrong with meat and potatoes. Enjoy!
Inspired by the Pioneer Woman Cooks, January 2008: Perfect Pot Roast
1 chuck roast, 2 1/2 – 5 pounds (other roasts fine, choose one with lots of marbling)
2 yellow onions
3 cloves of garlic
7 small carrots, washed thoroughly
3 parsnips, washed and peeled
1 turnip (roughly 1/2 pound) peeled and washed
1 cup to 12 oz beer
2-3 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 1/2 tablespoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
dash of crushed red pepper
1. Halve onions, remove skin and outer layer. Peel garlic cloves. Chop carrots, parsnips, and turnip into two inch pieces, preferably bite-size.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Get out a crock pot as well.*
3. Brown all of the vegetables (onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips and turnips) in the olive oil on all sides in batches. Onions and garlic in one, carrots and parsnips in another, then finally the turnips. Set aside in a bowl when done.
4. Add an extra tablespoon of oil to the pan, then brown the roast on all sides. Set roast directly into a crock pot turned onto low with a splash of beer and beef broth.
5. Add a splash of beer and beef broth to the pan, and use a whisk to scrape up the brown pieces in the bottom of the pan. Add all of the spices and whisk it together. Pour over the roast in the crock pot. Add liquid until roast is at least 2/3 covered (for a small roast use 1/2 beer, 1 full beer for 5 pound roast). Add tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
6. Add all of the vegetables to the crock pot. Cover with a lid. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 8-10 hours, in part depending on the size of the roast. Roast is done when it can be pulled apart with a fork. Serve with potatoes: mashed, roasted, or baked. Enjoy!
*Roast can also be made in oven, making this a one-pot dish. Use a large oven-safe pot to brown the veggies and sear the meat. After whisking up the brown bits, return roast to the pot and cover 2/3 of the way with liquid. Add vegetables and cover. Cook in oven heated to 275 for 3-4 hours.