Mark and I both took home a 2lb Beef Chuck Roast to cook over the weekend. The idea is to see how two people with two different lives with two different needs think about the same dinner.
I'm Sean, a single former chef that has a cute neighbor across the hall that I want to flex a little and impress her with my mad food skills. I need to feed two people with some flair and have some for left overs because being single I don’t want to cook every night. I need it to be cost effective but I need the quality and the price tag is slightly less of a concern.
Mark is a married 30 something Warehouse manager that has the wife, 2 kids, dogs and im assuming a white picket fence now that I think about it. He has a family of 4 to feed and it has to be something to cook that is cost effective, flavourful and can be done while kids are pulling on your legs wanting attention. He has responsibilities in life (sucker).
Chuck roast fits all these requirements for us both! We went about it different ways based on time, space, life, budget, kitchen style, education, moon phases and everything else that we deal with on a day to day basis in our lives. This is the story of two Pot Roasts!
Sean's Pot Roast
I didn’t follow the traditional pot roast method of the one pot wonder. My intention was to do that, to throw everything in a slow cooker and eat a good meal later that night. Between appointments, side jobs and trying to find time to sleep I was running late (maybe im the sucker). My fantasies of a slow cooker dinner didn’t work for me because I didn’t get it ready in time to cook so it quickly became a pressure cooker recipe. Having gone that route I don’t like throwing vegies and potatoes in the pressure cooker so I cooked the potatoes sous vide and just did a nice maple roasted veg with it. A few more steps but definitely not a time consuming recipe and I can do this recipe from grumbling about making dinner to eating a tasty roast in 2 hours.
Sean's Pot Roast recipe:
- 1 2lb North Range Chuck Roast
- 2 small onions, halved
- 1 stalk celery, big chop
- 1 carrot, big chop
- 1L Beef Stock (low sodium)
- Olive oil
- Rosemary (fresh if possible)
Sous Vide Potatoes:
- 1lb Baby Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 tbsp. Butter
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tsp fresh garlic puree or paste
- Two large pieces of rosemary and some thyme – fresh please
Maple Roasted Carrots and Parsnips:
- 2 Large Carrots, peeled and cut into roughly 1 inch pieces
- 4 Large Parsnips, peeled and cut as close as you can to the same size as the carrots
- 150ml Pure Canadian Maple Syrup. (if you use pancake syrup it will work but you will be haunted of the ghosts of the flavour that could have been!)
- 3 tbsp. Canola Oil
- Salt and pepper
Mark's Pot Roast
Mark went with the classic pot roast style in a dutch oven. Sear the meat, add the liquid, put it in the oven and let it go. Later on, add the potatoes and vegies and let it go again. Classics are classic for a reason. Its simple, its good and it will feed a family with as little effort as possible.
Mark's Pot Roast Recipe:
1 2lb North Range Chuck Roast
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups beef broth
2 yellow onions cut in quarters
5 large carrots
½ lb mixed baby potatoes
Both recipes Start the same. Get a thick bottomed pot nice and hot and coat with oil. Marked used Olive Oil where I used Canola Oil and Butter. I like the browning effect (the Maillard reaction) when butter is used to get that nice dark crust on the outside. Mark used straight olive oil and got the same reaction with a bit more smoke in the pan. Both work just fine, just get it brown and don’t skip this step. Ever. For any reason. Just don’t.
Dry the thawed pot roast on paper towel to avoid spatter, season with black pepper and salt on all sides. Put the roast in your pan and turn every 3-5 mins as the meat sears. This will depend on how hot your pan is. Get a dark brown crust on all sides, including the top and bottom.
Now for me, i placed the seared roast in the pressure cooker and threw my vegies and herbs into the pan to get them roasted and bring out the oils. Once that was ready, I threw in 1L No sodium beef broth and let it reduce in the hot pan for a few minutes concentrating the flavor. I poured all that over my pot roast and into my pressure cooker it went for 1 hour on high. SET IT ANNNNNNDD FORGET IT!!!
Mark took his seared roast and added the broth to the dutch oven, covering the roast by half, put the lid on it and put it in the oven at 250f for 2.5 hours. After that he turned the roast, added his potatoes and vegies and turned his oven up to 350f for another 45 mins. At the end of that he had a melt in the mouth pot roast that just needed to rest for a few minutes before he sliced it and just served it up. That’s the super easy one pot wonder pot roast that we all think of when we think pot roast. Its got great flavour, its juicy and falls apart when sliced. Feed a family of 4 and still have time to catch the game while pretending to pay attention to your kids.
Me? I still have more work to do. Put the potatoes and everything else in the potato recipe and put it into a vacuum seal bag, set up your sous vide and let those go for 1.5 hours at 87c. Once they are done the roast should be done. My one hour pressure cooker roast takes 1.5 hours between the heat up and the slow release. Toss the vegetables together with the maple syrup and olive oil, season and put onto a baking sheet. Put the sous vide potatoes (out of the bag please, don’t be that guy) on the same sheet and roast for 20-30 mins in a 400f oven, turning every 10 minutes or so. Once the vegies and potatoes are nice and brown and roasted take them out of the oven, cut your roast and serve.
So heres the results of our friendly competition.
I would say that my pot roast has a couple different flavours having ingredients cooked three different ways. I have the nice dark pot roast that falls apart, the buttery garlic rosemary potatoes and the sweet root vegies that looks great on a plate and it will impress anyone you have over from your cute neighbor to your parents who haven’t done it that way before. It took me a lot more effort and energy to make all these components and have them all done at once. I made my dinner in 1.5 hours but I was doing something for most of those 1.5 hours.
Marks pot roast is your classic belly warming, winter blues killing Sunday night dinner in one pot that took him no time to prepare and has one pot to clean. His cook time is 3.5 hours but he put everything into one pot and checked it a couple times, adding the veg and potatoes once. Hes into it for 30 mins of total labour.
Im not even going to get into gravy vs pot liquid or even how to make a gravy. That’s two blog posts, a consultation with 27 people and a trip to the emergency room after the fights about who does it best.
There you have it. Two totally different styles of cooking a pot roast with two different outcomes. One family dinner style, the other a higher end plated version. Mine was faster to make in total but I worked for it where Marks was longer to cook but he could do other things while he was doing it. Both came out juicy, flavourful and fed everyone a healthy winter meal that will make you happy.
Everyone was a winner here (but mine was better, just saying).