There are things that came down to us through slavery and there are things that we perfected as a family in freedom. This is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten and it was a mainstay of our Sunday Dinner’s growing up. As much as I want this project to document our culinary journey in and out of the “Old South,” I want to reflect the flavors of freedom as well.
Pat’s (Updated) Pot Roast
- 3.5-4 pound beef chuck roast
- 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon of coarse ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil (my Mom would sometimes use clear bacon fat)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 cups of white mushrooms
- Optional: 1 cup of green bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1 cup of beef stock
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme or a bouquet garni of (basil, thyme, parsley and a bay leaf)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups of carrots sliced diagonally
- 4 large russet potatoes, skinned and cut into chunks or a small bag of baby potatoes
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Wash and pat dry pot roast. Season liberally with kosher salt and coarse ground pepper, covering the surface. Heat oil or fat in a cast iron skillet and brown roast on all sides. Saute onion, mushroom, and green pepper in the pan drippings and place on and around roast in a Dutch oven. Season with sprig of thyme and bay leaf or bouquet garni. Add wine and stock. Cook for 90 minutes, checking to see if the meat is getting tender. Cook for another 20 minutes after basting with the juices in the Dutch oven. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook another 35 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest.
For gravy (save the stock)
- 1 teaspoon of honey (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 tablespoon of margarine mashed together (this is called kneaded butter in Old Southern cooking)
Allow to set. Remove the roast and the vegetables, keeping them separate. Skim all the fat you can from the surface of the remaining stock and discard, along with the bay leaf and herbs. Drain resultant stock into a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Stir the kneaded margarine/butter into the pot and allow to thicken. Add a pinch of kosher salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring until even. Sweeten just a little with a teaspoon of honey.
- Fresh Italian flat leaf parsley–about 4 tablespoons, chopped
Slice roast into one inch thick slices and place on a ceramic platter surrounded by the onions and carrots. Spoon mushrooms and onions remaining over the meat and then top off with the gravy. Add the parsley and serve with a fresh warm baguette or sweet corn muffins and a dark green, leafy salad.