This post will be a bit of a “three hour tour… a three hour tour!” but if you stick with it, it will be worth it, I promise. It will bring you back to this wonderland of all things delicious, creamy, and juicy. Get comfy…
We’re doing the granddaddy of all meat and potatoes comfort foods… the pot roast & mashed potato dinner. If you get this meal down right you will be the envy of home cooks around the neighborhood. You will wow dinner guests, you will restore confidence in down home cooking cynics, you will amaze your family and friends, you will be… AWESOME!! Well, at least you’ll be able to cook pot roast 🙂
Start by heating up some oil over med-high heat in your dutch oven. If you don’t have a dutch oven you can use any pan you’d regular use to pan sear or saute. And… you’ll want to put a dutch oven on your wish list… they are versatile and just plain incredible. They go from stove top to oven, back to stove top, to the table, to the fridge, back to the stove and into the sink 🙂 Moving on…
While your oil is heating up peel and chop up some carrots, big chunks… they are going to be hanging on in the hot tub for a while!
Also, get your meat ready to go. I love an arm roast for my pot roast. This one is a great weight but extra long and will not fit into my dutch oven. I cut it in half and it all worked out just wonderful.
Get a good amount of salt and pepper on there and rub it in on both sides. There’s a lot of meat to season here so don’t get skimpy!
This is where it starts getting exciting 🙂 Drop your roast down into the hot pan to begin searing it. You’re not cooking it here so don’t get too crazy, just a minute or so on each surface.
Once the meat pulls away from the pan’s surface you know you have a good sear on it. You want it a little brown but don’t get too worried about this part. You are just wanting to sear/seal in all the juices so that your meat doesn’t dry out during the long, slow cooking process. This is worth the time folks!!
If you had to cut your roast like I did you need to sear both sections. When you are done the bottom of your pan will look something like this… MMMMM…. that’s flavor, baby!! Even if you are not going to be roasting your beef in this pan in the oven you will need to follow through with the next step to pick up all this free flavor enhancer 🙂
Pour in about a cup of beef stock into the hot pan and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon. This will pull up all the delicious bits. You will want to keep this in your dutch oven or transfer this to whatever pot or pan you are going to cook your roast in.
OK then… we’re almost done!! Well, with the first half of this culinary adventure! Add your beef and carrots back to the pot along with a quartered onion, a couple cloves of smashed garlic, maybe a bay leaf, and another good sprinkling of salt and pepper. Oh, and a few cups of stock or water, whatever trips your trigger.
Somewhere in there you should have preheated your oven to 275. If you forgot… no big deal, the pot is hot and it will be patient in the oven while it’s waiting. Roasts are polite like that.
I’m terrible at trying to tell you exactly how long to keep this in the oven. My roast was about 5 lbs and it was in the oven almost 5 hours… but it was cut in half… and… yeah… just put it in after lunch and it’ll be great by dinner. You should really just let it hang out in the oven and not worry about it. If you do get nosey and want to know what’s going on in there I have you covered.
Now let’s talk potatoes. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. If it’s new to you, it’ll make scrolling through this entire endless post worth it… potatoes can be peeled, chopped, and covered in cold water for HOURS before you need to cook them. You can even leave them this way overnight in the fridge and they WON’T brown… I promise!! Just sprinkle a little salt into the water and cover them up and you’re set. Oh, and throw in a couple cloves of smashed garlic if you like garlicky potatoes. You’re gonna love this. I did these at 10 a.m. and didn’t turn the burner on until 5 p.m. Love it! No need to do all the mad rush prep as everyone is hungrily hovering around you. Back to the roast…
Here’s mine after 2 hours. I had to peek. It looks great and ready to go but it’s not… this is how I check mine and there is no scientific or culinary basis that I know of for it… just seems to work for me. I take a pair of tongs and flip the roast over. If it feels pretty solid I know I have a couple hours to go. If it is already starting to fall apart, and it will eventually, I know I’m probably pretty close to done. It’s pretty hard to overcook this stuff. The longer it goes the more tender and fall-aparty the meat gets.
So… since you have some time on your hands let me make a suggestion. I’m a clean as I go kinda gal and I really believe those who dread cooking and the cleanup afterward would be a little more chipper if they took on this approach. Once my roast is in the oven I get to work cleaning up everything I’ve used up to this point. Why wait for the mess to grow?? Also, if you’re having dinner guests they’ll be amazed at your cleanliness!!
Also, take a couple minutes to assemble the tools you’ll need once everything is ready to roll. Here is my dream team for the night. For the potatoes you’ll want a small bowl of milk to come to room temp, butter, sour cream (I prefer plain yogurt but was out), salt, pepper, and a masher. For the gravy you’ll want a couple tablespoons of corn starch in a small bowl with cold water (slurry), and a gravy boat. For the carrots a bowl to keep them in while you get everything else ready, preferably with a lid to keep them warm or cover with foil. For the meat, just a plate or serving platter to hang out on while you make gravy. Look at you all organized and ready to go!! Pat yourself on the back!!
OK, get those potatoes cranked up and to a rolling boil and pull this bad boy out of the oven… the aroma is going to make your mouth water… forget scented candles… this is where it’s at!
You really could just grab a fork and dig right into this if noone is looking… I won’t tell 🙂
If you are using a dutch oven your lid will look something like this… don’t be afraid. Those little bumps help the condensation redistribute back down over the food like an automatic baster thingy. Well done lid… you’ve worked hard and we thank you. You’ll want to soak this guy in some hot soapy water 😉
Next you’ll want to take a slotted spoon and fish out your carrots, onions, garlic, and any other random thing you may have thrown in there. Cover the carrots and onions to keep them hot.
Once your potatoes are fork tender. Drain MOST of the water. NOT all of the water. NEVER drain off ALL of the water. This is more free flavor!!! This water is full of salty, starchy, potatoey goodness. Leave about a cup or so in there. If I catch you throwing out all your potato water I will be sending you strongly worded emails… try me!
Now put that pot back on the still-hot electric stove top or if you have a gas stove leave the heat on just a tad little bit. Here’s what’s going on here. You are bringing your milk, butter, and sour cream up to temp with your potatoes. You are also allowing the potatoes to soak up all the different flavors and continue to soften. It’s a beautiful thing that’s going to be going on in this pot for the next few minutes, just let it happen.
While that is getting all dramatic you need to get that gravy going! Where’s your head!? Remove your roast and set it on a plate/platter. Mine came out in pieces… which is a very good sign! You will not be using a knife on this roast, folks!
You want to keep it warm so you can cover it with foil, I just dropped the lid from my potato pot on it.
Turn the burner under your dutch oven on to med-high. Strain your stock and run it through a fat separator if you want and return it to the pot. It’s going to be hot already so it won’t take long to bring it to a simmer.
Give your corn starch slurry a quick stir and pour it in. I was expecting a slightly more elegant picture of this but I’m obviously still an amateur so… sorry.
The gravy will thicken quickly. If it’s not thick enough for you give it a minute. If it’s still not, make up some more corn starch slurry. This is your opportunity to check the flavor too. Please do check to see if you need salt and/or pepper. I like to think salt and pepper aren’t necessary at the table if all flavors are checked in the kitchen. I’m kinda snobby like that. Taste it and add accordingly. Thank you very much 😉
Oh, hey, look what’s going on in the potato pot… yummy… Go ahead and take your masher to these. Don’t get crazy, just get them smashed enough to incorporate all the flavors and remove large lumps. TASTE THEM! You will probably need to add salt, maybe pepper, maybe cheese, maybe chives, maybe bacon… who knows!! If they are dry, add a little milk. If they are too wet, turn the burner up or on and leave the lid off so the extra moisture evaporates. Don’t overmix if they are too wet. Better to let the moisture escape out the top of the pot than to try to beat it into the potatoes.
Now it’s time to pull it all together! Get that gravy in the boat. Get your meat and potatoes into whatever vessel they belong in. Don’t forget the carrots and onions!! Pull yourself together, this is a big deal!! This is pot roast night!!
It’s all really pretty easy and if you just stick with it… you get this. It’s like a hug on a plate. It’s a problem eraser… not to encourage binge emotional eating but seriously…
Food is love, people, and this is some good lovin’… share it!!
But wait!! There’s more!! Don’t worry if you have leftovers… you’ll WANT leftovers… just wait until you see what you’re going to make with the leftovers…
Pack up all your leftover meat in a container and into the fridge. Also pour all that unused gravy or extra stock into a jar cause that is going to take you places… I hope you’re as excited as I am 🙂