DSC01976A simple, and simply delicious, recipe for the classic comfort food: pot roast.

I don’t know about you, but let the weather drop just ten or fifteen degrees and, immediately, I start thinking pot roast. Even a slight chill in the air puts me in mind of root vegetables and long, slowly simmered, dishes of the savory sort. Pot roast is the ultimate fall comfort food.

Though I’ve made it dozens of time, I don’t think I’ve ever made it the same way twice. Sometimes I’ll use a crock pot, sometimes a roasting bag; sometimes with potatoes, sometimes without … all depends on what I’ve got on hand. Last week I chose to simmer it in the oven and skip the potatoes. Instead, I’ve included a veritable cornucopia of root vegetables: carrots, turnips, parsnips and butternut squash. Feel free to vary the veggies according to your own desires. Almost anything and everything will work well in this dish.

Please don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients here. The dish comes together quickly. My advice is to chop and prep all of the vegetables before you begin browning the meat. A little chopping, a little mixing and once its in the oven, your work is done!

Basic Pot Roast:

  • one 4 to 5 pound beef rump roast, tied
  • salt, pepper and some Essence of Emeril for seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, halved and sliced
  • 1/3 cup of Vin Santo or a dry sherry
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 (whole) large sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • one 14 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium white turnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup of peeled, chopped butternut squash (1 inch pieces)
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of low-sodium beef broth
  • some chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy (3 or 4 quart) dutch oven over medium-high heat until it is hot, but not smoking. While the oil heats, rub the entire surface of the meat with a bit of salt, freshly ground black pepper and some Essence of Emeril. Add the seasoned meat to the pan and brown on all sides. Transfer the roast to a plate, and to the dutch oven add the garlic and onions. Saute, over medium-high heat, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions just begin to soften. Add the Vin Santo, or sherry, and the red wine and allow the mixture to come to the boil, stirring well with a wooden spoon and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom and sides of the pan, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir well to combine.

Add the whole sprigs of thyme, the bay leaf, paprika, Worcestershire Sauce, rice wine vinegar and the can of petite diced tomatoes with their juice, stirring well to combine. Return the browned roast to the pan and nestle the carrots, parsnips, turnips and squash around the roast. Pour the vegetable broth and the beef broth over the roast and vegetables. Cover the pot with the lid and transfer to a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Roast until fork-tender, about 3 hours, turning the meat once mid-way through roasting (after an hour and a half).

Transfer the meat to a cutting board and tent with foil. Allow the meat to rest for a few minutes before slicing. Using a pair of tongs, remove the bay leaf and the thyme stems from the roasting pan, then keep the accumulated gravy and root vegetables warm by simmering on top of the stove over low heat while you slice the roast.

To serve: slice the roast and over it pour the gravy and the simmered vegetables. Garnish with some chopped fresh parsley if desired.

As written, this recipe will serve 6.

If desired, you may choose to thicken the resulting gravy by either reducing it for a few minutes or add a beurre manie. Personally, I can’t be bothered with that. The resulting liquid is so deliciously fragrant and flavorful, I want to get right to the table! Do as you see fit.

I like to serve the pot roast over some cooked whole wheat noodles or some creamy grits or polenta, though mashed potatoes would work equally well. This is a hearty, wholesome and altogether satisfying meal that’s well worth the bit of effort in chopping and peeling. I can’t think of a better way to usher in the first crisp days of autumn. I hope you’ll try it!

Bon appetite!

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