Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pot Roast with Root Vegetables, Thyme and Merlot

One of my friends has been trying to make pot roast for a few months now. She called me once and I gave her all the advice I could think of. Last time we talked, she was frustrated because she had tried again (for the 8th time), and her meat was tough. I learned she had cooked it in her crock pot for 3 hours and thought it was done. I told her how a pot roast has to cook in the crock pot all day, so the connective tissue breaks down, thus rendering even a humble piece of chuck into a tender, like-your-mama's pot roast. Now, I promise I am not making fun of my friend because we all have a recipe or two that we want perfect, for sentimental reasons, because we're perfectionists, or we're just flat out stubborn.

So this pot roast recipe is my own creation. I've made it several times, and I think it's pretty foolproof. I have tried all cuts of meat, and to get the most bang for your buck, go with a boneless beef chuck roast. I adore the flavor of fresh thyme with beef, and I personally believe anything cooked with a good red wine cannot be a bad thing. Don't use a cooking wine for this recipe, use a wine you'd drink, something inexpensive, but not pricey. If it's a really cheap bottle, I can't say how your roast will turn out. And carrots, potatoes, and onions are a must. I like to use red potatoes in a dish that simmers for a long time; russet (white) potatoes turn mushy after a while, but red potatoes are sturdier, and hold up better. You can add other veggies to your liking.

I also believe searing the meat adds a layer of flavor to the roast. I use the wine to deglaze the pan, and get up all those browned bits off the bottom of the pan, because that my friends, is flavor. This also reduces the wine a little bit, and concentrates the resulting
fond. Mmm....

I got the idea of using the 3 different soups from another friend who used this particular combination for a pork roast in the crock pot. I tried it with beef, and it was delicious.

Enough talk, let's cook some beef!

Pot Roast with Root Vegetables, Thyme and Merlot

1 2-3 pound chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 medium or one large onion, cut into quarters
1 1/2 cups baby carrots (or regular carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces)
1 1/4 pounds new baby potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut into quarters
2 cloves of garlic, crushed (I use a garlic press)
1 package of fresh thyme (available in the produce section of the grocery store)
1/2 to 1/3 cup of decent red wine (I used merlot, but a cabernet would be fine)
1 10.5 can of cream of mushroom soup (I like the "Healty Request" from Campbells)
1 10.5 ounce can of golden mushroom soup
1 10.5 ounce can of french onion soup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the chuck roast generously with salt and pepper on all sides. In a dutch oven or large, deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. You want it hot, but not smoking. When it's ready, lay your meat in, and sear until a dark brown on all sides. Use a pair of tongs if you need to to get all the sides seared. This is what the meat should look like-- it will take about 5 minutes per side.

While the meat is searing, combine the thyme, merlot/red wine, garlic, and the soups in a bowl, stir until blended. To prep the thyme, just strip the tiny green leaves off the stems, gather them up, and discard the stems. The leaves are so small, you don't even have to chop them up. Go ahead and start up the crock pot...mine has an option for 8 hours on low, so that is what I programmed it for. Pour in the soup mixture, and put in half of the carrots, potatoes, and onions. When the meat is finished searing, use tongs to carefully transfer the meat to the crock pot, and lay it on top of the soup mixture and vegetables. Don't forget to turn off your stove burner while you do this.

Now, you want to get all the flavor from the meat out of the dutch oven (or whatever pan you used to sear the meat). Pour the merlot/red wine into the pan, and put it over a medium heat. You should not have the alcohol flare up when you do it this way. If you do, just let the flames die out, and proceed with the rest of the recipe. I've never had a flare-up, but you never know...

Use a wooden spoon or rubber scraper to get all the browned bits from the meat off the bottom of the pan/pot. Let the mixture come to a gentle boil, and let simmer for about 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat, and pour this over the meat in the crock pot. Arrange the rest of the veggies around the meat, and put the lid on.

Now, let it go. Seriously, that is what a crock pot is designed to do. All you have to do now is let the whole thing go for 8-10 hours or until the meat just gives up. I wouldn't even bother to stir it...if you must peek and stir, wait until you see the liquid simmering so you know it's come up to temperature. At the end of the day, it should fall apart when you go to take it out of the crock pot.

I made some Chive Biscuits to go with this meal, I'll post the recipe for that in the next couple of days. I usually don't make a pot roast until it gets colder, but I finally had electricity after 15 days, and felt like making comfort food. Besides, the whole house smelled great all day long :-)

Have fun making comfort food for your family. God bless your table tonight!


Ginkgo100 said...


Your posts are showing up complete for me, even on the RSS feed. So whatever the problem was, it seems to be resolved now. Maybe the connection was interrupted when you were loading the page? But clearing the cache should have fixed that. Oh well. Let me know if you have problems again. I don't know if I'll be able to actually help, but I'll be happy to take a look.

By the way, it's unfair that this post is making me so hungry when pot roast takes sooo long to cook!

Alexis D. said...


I just love your recipes! Can't wait to try a few of them. I especially like using the crock pot - got any more good recipes?


Alexis D. said...

Made this last week!! Super yummy!!