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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy one pot beer braised pot roast

I couldn't even wait to take a picture before chowing down!

There's pot roast, then there's pot roast everyone wants the recipe for. This is that pot roast. Quick and easy to assemble yet delicious enough to be served at a sophisticated dinner party. I promise you, it'll be the best thing you've put in your mouth this year! Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon recipe is hands down the best beef dish ever invented in the history of the world and this is a close second.

The secret to making a tender pot roast is slow cooking the correct type of beef. The most flavorful tender pot roast is always made with beef chuck. You can use boneless or bone-in, but the bone in adds a tremendous amount of flavor and a silkiness to the sauce because of the gelatin in the bone. When this pot roast is finished cooking, it literally falls apart so you can easy pick up the bone and throw it away. I usually go with bone-in, but really it's whatever is on sale. The important thing is to make sure it's a chuck roast. Any other type of beef roast is generally better for faster cooking and will get a mealy, chalky texture to it when you slow cook it.

The main secret to flavor is browning the meat before slow cooking it. When the surface of beef is browned, it's called the Maillard Reaction and produces a tremendous amount of beefy flavor that you just can't get anywhere else. I believe in simple one pot cooking, but you can't brown meat in a crock pot so crock pot meals taste very flat and one dimensional. You could brown a roast before putting it in the crock pot, but then you've got two pans to clean. Instead, I brown everything in a pot then move the pot to a 195F oven for the same amount of time. Also, keeping meat between 190F and 200F for an extended time is the golden zone where the collagen and tissues break down producing a tender flavorful roast. Crock pots work based on wattage (not temperature) so the results can be unpredictable.

Sometimes, beef pot roast can taste quite bland - like boiled meat. This recipe is designed to add a lot of strong flavors that really punch up the beef flavor. You can change things up a bit, but the ratios of the liquid ingredients shouldn't be altered. The vinegar/brown sugar gives it an amazing mild sweet & sour kapow and the beef stock reduces keeps it at just the right amount of mildness. The recipe works great with different types of beer and mushrooms, but I find that Portobella are easy to clean because they're so large. Also, they stand up to cooking overnight really well and are still firm enough to throw back in at the end. Button mushrooms are a little soft and squishy by that point.

One of the reasons I love this dish is it's best when you throw it in the oven the night before. Before heading to work in the morning, you strain it and toss it into the fridge before heading to work. When you come home, all the fat will have floated to the top and solidified so you can easily toss it, making this a low fat meal.

Everything need to make an amazing pot roast (bacon is already cooking in the pot)
Easy Beer-braised Pot Roast


4lbbone-in chuck roast (or 3 lb boneless)
4slicesbacon (smoked bacon adds the best flavor)
2onions (yellow or Vidalia add the best flavor)
1tspground allspice
1/2tspground black pepper
1canbeef broth (Pacific has the best flavor. Swanson's is a second runner up. The can usually comes in 14 1/2oz by weight size.)
1cupGuinness beer (any dark beer will work)
4tbspdark soy sauce (not low sodium)
1/4cupapple cider vinegar
2tbspdark brown sugar (make sure they're level, not heaping. You don't want it to taste like dessert!)
3largeportobella mushrooms (or 6 oz any variety, but the portobella are super easy to clean)
1sprigfresh thyme (optional)
3cloveswhole garlic, unpeeled

  1. Leave the meat on the counter for an hour to come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 195F.
  3. In a large pot, partially cook the bacon over medium-low heat, then remove to a plate. (You're not trying to cook it to completion, you're just trying to brown it to get some extra flavor.)
    Bacon brings people together!
  4. Add 2 tbsp oil to the hot pot and increase heat to medium-high.
  5. Use several paper towels to thoroughly dry the chuck roast. Drying it accomplishes two things: (1) water causes splattering from hot oil and (2) you can't brown wet meat.
  6. Add to the pan. Let it brown for about 3 minutes. Do not move it! Don't slide it around. To develop effective browning, it must stay in exactly the same spot.
    The browned chuck roast should look like this
  7. While the meat is browning, quarter and peel the onions.
  8. Using a large meat fork or tongs, peek under the meat to ensure that it's developed a nice caramelized color. If it has, flip it over and repeat with the other side.
  9. Remove the meat to the plate with the bacon.
  10. Add the quartered onions.
  11. Toss and brown the onions for about 5 minutes until they begin to develop a nice color and browned edges. Again, you're not trying to cook them. You're just trying to develop a bit of the browned flavor.
    Browning of the onions almost complete
  12. Add allspice and black pepper to the onions and cook for an additional minute to release their full potential.
  13. Remove the onions onto another plate.
  14. Add the liquid ingredients and brown sugar, then scrape all the goodness off the bottom of the pot.
  15. Put the chuck roast back into the pot. Place the portobella mushrooms on top and add the onions and bacon on top as well.
  16. Cover and place in the oven and cook for 8 to 10 hours (usually overnight)
  17. At this point, the roast will technically be done and you can eat it as is. But to really kick it up to the next step and make it sophisticated, continue with these steps to make a rich sauce.
  18. Strain the roast and vegetables in a colander or sieve. Place the juice and the solids in the fridge for several hours. During this time, any fat in the juice will float to the top and solidy so it can be removed easily.
  19. Remove the solid fat layer from the top using a spoon or your fingers.
  20. You should have about 5 cups of liquid. The magic formula for pot roast gravy is 1 1/4 heaping tablespoons of flour per cup of liquid. Whisk in about 6 heaping tablespoons of flour into the cold liquid. (Doing it while the liquid is cold will keep it from clumping. If you're doing this while the juice is hot, you'll need to whisk it into cold water first, then add it to the juice.)
  21. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat while stirring occasionally.
  22. Break apart the roast into pieces about the size of your thumb and toss into the simmering gravy. Add the mushrooms back in as well. If you happen to find the 3 cloves of garlic, you can just squeeze their skin and squirt the soft roasted inside into the pot as well. (Normally I wouldn't add the onion because people don't like the texture, but I snack on them while breaking up the roast.)
  23. After boiling for another minute or so, it's ready. Turn off heat.
  24. Serve over warm mashed potatoes or with noodles.
    I couldn't even wait to take a picture before chowing down!

This gets even more delicious the second and third day. It's a great make ahead recipe and because flour is used to make the gravy, it reheats really nice and creamy.

Enjoy! :)


  1. Looks delicious! Will have to try this one for sure.....fresh thyme is a must, since we have it in the garden