There are so many versions of pot roast; there have been several posted. But I have never shared the one I have used most during my cooking years. My mother (long before crock pots) always browned a small chuck roast on top of the stove, added onions, carrots, and celery sprinkled with salt and pepper, plus enough liquid to simmer for several hours. She probably put this into the oven at times, but I remember clearly the ways she avoided “heating up the kitchen.” My own version started with this. Early in my marriage, a friend told me her mother-in-law shared her secret to a tasty pot roast – don’t just brown the meat to start but “burn” it on both sides before adding vegetables. Later I read another hint for adding flavor and tenderizing the roast: For liquid, add any leftover coffee from the morning pot before topping off with water!
So that is what I do when I decide to make a pot roast the old way! The vegetables I add may vary, but browning the meat very dark and adding some coffee produces a rich, dark cooking liquid that can be served as is or thickened as a gravy. This works whether you have the pot roast bubbling away on the back of the stove, cooking in the oven, or in a slow cooker. Any way you cook it, a pot roast is not a quick cooking dish. The hours it cooks along with fragrant vegetables and herbs produces tender, fall-apart delicious food – an old-fashioned favorite that will never go out of style in our kitchen.
Mary Ann’s Pot Roast
3-4 pound chuck or shoulder roast
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
3 medium potatoes, coarsely chopped
4 carrots, sliced00
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, sliced
dried or fresh herbs of your choice
Rinse and pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and flour. Heat oil in a heavy skillet and brown the roast on both sides until dark brown and charred. Place roast in a baking dish if cooking in the oven or crock pot if using a slow cooker. Layer all vegetables around and on the sides of meat. Add salt, pepper, and herbs if you wish. Pour at least 1 cup of strong coffee over all, top with enough water to almost cover. Add lid and cook for several hours. If baking, cook in 325-degree oven for at least 3 hours, or until roast is very tender, adding water if necessary. In a slow cooker, the roast should cook for 4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.
To serve, lift the pot roast and veggies out and place on a platter. Serve the broth in a small bowl with ladle. For gravy, thicken the broth by heating 2 Tablespoons oil with 2 Tablespoons flour, stirring while adding the cooking liquid. Stir and simmer until thickened, season with salt and pepper if needed.