Pot roast is a comfort food, nourishing body and spirit. It is a one dish meal whose leftovers have any number of possibilities. I can, and do make pot roast like my mother did, browning the chuck roast, adding onions and carrots, and cooking until the meat is very tender. Added to that are a number of variations. I have made fruited pot roast with dried apricots or prunes. I have cooked the meat in wine, adding vegetables cooked separately. But my favorite and most often chosen method combines using coffee for tenderizing with browning the meat to begin with until it is almost burnt! The latter hint came to me from a friend years ago who said her mother in law told her the only way to cook a roast was to burn it first! Mind you, the meat is not charred black, but seared until it has a dark brown crust. The combination of that flavor and the cooked down coffee lends delicious flavor to the meat and vegetables, but the gravy is the star. That gravy will be dark, rich, and perfect to spoon over servings of your pot roast.
Parkers’ Pot Roast
2 to 3 lb. chuck roast
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
1 large onion, sliced
10 small red potatoes, or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in small pieces
4-5 carrots, cut in 2 inch pieces
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 Bay Leaves
2 cups strong coffee
Heat oven to 350. Dust roast with flour, salt and pepper. Brown in an iron skillet or Dutch oven until dark brown (almost burned!). Pour coffee over the top. Add bay leaves and scatter vegetables on top and around meat. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Cover and bake for at least 3 hours, adding water or beef broth if necessary. Remove from oven carefully so that hot liquid does not spill. Transfer the roast and vegetable pieces to a platter, reserving liquid. To make gravy, stir 2 Tablespoons flour mixed with 1/4 cup water into the cooking juices and season to taste. Serve gravy on the side or spooned over portions on each plate.
One of the best things about making a pot roast is using the leftovers. Trim and chop leftover roast and add with vegetables to soup pot with some canned tomatoes – the best soup ever! If there is enough, slice bits of meat and serve over toast with reheated gravy – hot beef sandwiches! My mother’s favorite use of the leftovers was making hash by chopping meat and veggies and reheating together.