Let me begin by saying I love and hate pot roast.
To clarify, I love to eat it, but I HATE cooking it.
Done right, it’s a buttery tender piece of meat with veggies, potatoes and gravy all in one pot that just spells flavour. It’s a great cold weather dish that can be done in very few pots, if not just 1, depending on your method of choice. You can put it on in the morning with very little effort and cook it low and slow all day long to build those flavors and get that tender, falling apart meat. You can even get it all ready the night before so you just have to put it on: what’s not to love?
That being said, I’ve been a red seal chef for over 2 decades and, until recently, I have never cooked a good pot roast! I tried doing it in the oven like a big boy chef and it came out a smoldering cinder! Santa wouldn’t even give it out as coal. The time before that, I thought I was cooking it nice and slow but really, I was keeping it warm in the oven.
I took it out, very excited for my belly warming dinner, and it almost hopped out of the pan and ran away it was so undercooked. I have burnt, powdered, incinerated, brutalized, abused and mistreated many innocent roasts in my life and it even became a running joke in the kitchens I worked in. If you want a 5 star meal I’m your guy, but if it’s a roast you are looking for don’t even get it close to me.
I had almost given up on my dreams of cooking a good pot roast until I came across the age-old titan in the kitchen, the unsung hero of family chefs everywhere, the slow cooker.
This time I was triumphant! I had achieved victory! I took a beautiful AAA Chuck Eye Roast and turned it into something great. Buttery soft meat, fluffy baby potatoes and nicely roasted carrots and parsnips. It was everything I had dreamed of. Let me tell you how!
First, I found the roast thanks to North Range Craft Butchers.
It came frozen so I thawed it in the fridge for a couple days, and straight out of the package it was ready. I chopped some carrots, parsnips, onions and celery into large pieces and put them aside. I made a nice little bundle of thyme and rosemary and had that ready too. I got some red wine and even kept some aside to cook with. I was ready.
Next, I seasoned the roast liberally with salt and pepper and gave it a good sear in a hot pan with oil and butter making sure it was nice and brown on all sides. Taking it out and setting it aside, I tossed in the veggies and gave them a quick browning in the juices that the roast left. Putting those in the slow cooker, I threw the herbs and the wine into pan and reduced the wine until it was almost gone. I put in some beef stock to deglaze the pan and with a wooden spoon, and scraped all the delicious little bits off the pan. I put the roast in the slow cooker on top of all the veggies and poured the stock mixture from the frying pan over the roast and that was it. I put the lid on, set it for 8 hours on low and got down on one knee saying a silent prayer to the kitchen gods. It was in their hands now.
7 hours later the aroma of the roast filled my house.
I took the lid off and a puff of pure flavor came out in the form of steam. I added a little cornstarch and water, mixed it around and let it go for another hour. After 8 hours the time came to see what I had created. With a lot of anticipation, anxiety and pure hope I lifted the lid. I didn’t smell smoke, so that was a good start. There appeared to be a nicely thickened gravy in the bottom so another good sign. I picked up the meat with a pair of tongs went to cut it and it almost fell apart on me. I plated it up with some of the meat and veggies, spooning some of the gravy over the top, and - it was everything I had hoped it could be.
I had made Pot Roast.