Basic Recipe Template: Weekend Pot Roast

Not only does pot roast make a hearty weekend supper for the whole family, it makes some mighty excellent leftovers, too. In fact, we've started making pot roast with the specific intention of having leftovers! Half a pot roast in the fridge is like money in the bank when it comes to fast, easy weeknight meals.
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This recipe is truly a template that you can play with as much or as little as you like. You need a hefty cut of beef and enough liquid to come half-way up the sides, but what vegetables, herbs, seasonings, and even what liquid you want to use are up to you! Onions, carrots, and celery are classic, but we've also thrown in fennel, parsnips, and tomatoes.

As we mentioned before, we like to cook enough to make sure we have leftovers for sandwiches and quick meals through the rest of the week. We'll talk about some of our favorite ways to re-use leftover pot roast in a separate post tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Weekend Pot Roast

2-3 pounds beef - top round, bottom round, or shoulder
4 cups (32 ounces) stock - beef, chicken, or vegetable
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2-4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2-4 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2-4 cloves whole garlic, left in their skins
Fresh herbs: marjoram, thyme, oregano, rosemary
bay leaf
salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350°.

Trim off any large sections of fat from the cut of beef. Pat it dry and then rub it with salt and pepper. Set a dutch oven over high heat and add a bit of vegetable oil to film the bottom. When it's hot, sear the meat on all sides.

Remove the beef to a plate and add about a half cup of the stock to the pan to deglaze. Scrape the bottom of the pan as the stock bubbles to get any caramelized bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. (If you don't want to dirty the extra plate, you can leave the meat in the pan here. It's just a bit easier to scrape everything without the meat in the pan.)

Take the pot off the heat. Add the meat back in and pour the rest of the stock over the top. The stock should come about halfway up the sides of the beef; add more stock or water if needed. Nestle the vegetables and herbs around the meat. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and put it in the oven.

Cook for 2-3 hours, until the beef is fork-tender and registers at least 145° on a meat thermometer in the thickest part.

Remove the beef from the liquid and let it rest for about 10 minutes before cutting. If desired, strain the vegetables and herbs out of the stock and reduce the liquid down to make a sauce or gravy. The vegetables will likely be too mushy too be very palatable.

Slow Cooker Alternative: Pot roast is also fantastic made in a slow cooker. Just sear the meat in a separate pan and transfer it to your slow cooker. Deglaze the pan and pour the liquid over the meat. Add the rest of the stock, vegetables, and herbs to the slow cooker, and cook on HIGH for 4-6 hours or LOW for 8-10 hours.

Related: Weekend Cooking: What to Cook with Cheap Cuts of Meat

(Images: Emma Christensen)

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