Meat & Potatoes: Pot Roast & The Manly Art of Survival

It’s Pot Roast season and half the country is snowed in. I heard there was snow in Florida last week! Well I live in Southern California and we are feeling the effects of some cold weather too. Not snow, of course, but chilly none-the-less.

Cold weather puts me in the mood for substantial dinners. Soup is good food and can be just the thing for a winter’s chill. But snow and ice require real sustenance, the kind that sticks to the ribs, and gets our butts into endurance mode. I am talking survival of the fittest, manly meals.

Manly meals require animal sacrifice. I am sorry, that is just the way it is. We are the masters of the King Of The Hill mentality, and that mindset requires us to eat other creatures in order to show our dominance. I am not kidding. It requires that.

So I have a whole week of eating other creatures planned for you here. But not wimpy little creatures that my baby sister might eat. Little girly creatures like chicken, squab or fillet of sole. Nope that’s not the kind of meat that I am talking about. In fact you won’t see anything with feathers or gills here at all this week.

brisketBecause this week is dedicated to meat. Warm blooded or hooved; furry, large and imposing. So if I am going to put on the trappings of meat eating manly men, and do it for a whole week; then I think I need to pair that meat with the hardiest of partners. Potatoes.

So starting today that’s all you’ll see here at SippitySup for the whole week. Meat & Potatoes! Who knows what it is going to do to my cholesterol. But when you’re talking about the survival of the species worrying about cholesterol is about as silly as eating anything with feathers or gills!

Pot Roast

First up: Garlicky Pot Roast with Roasted Potatoes & Root Vegetables.

I started with this recipe because it seemed like the pinnacle of the concept behind Meat & Potatoes. Manly men do not ask why they merely do or die. So I am going to do a pot roast. Which is a bit of a downer to me because I don’t really like pot roast. Which got me to thinking about why I don’t really like pot roast. And I guess the reason is because it’s a pot of mushy brown everything. Mushy brown meat, mushy brown carrots, mushy brown potatoes. Mushy, mushy, mushy.

Also, most pot roasts are a little too one note for me. They have that same overly beefy flavor; even the sauce tastes pretty much like the rest of it. Except sometimes the sauce has a repulsive oily, viscous sheen to it that you just know can only come from beef bullion cubes and cornstarch. That is when I just say ‘No Thank You’.

My theory is that pot roast is good in theory, but somewhere along the line lazy cooks have made us believe that simplicity is our salvation. So they feel justified in throwing it all into a pot and cooking it until everything is a mushy brown mess. Did I already say ‘No Thank You’?

pot roastBut I have decided to single-handedly save pot roast, because I am a manly man. I am going to give my pot roast the razzmatazz of a hit of acid and the shazzam of varied texture.

I am going to roast my potatoes and root vegetables separately from the meat and add them only in the last minutes. The flavors will meld, without becoming clones. Same with the texture; the meat will be velvety; the rest of my ingredients will retain a little independent chewiness. And besides all that– mine will be colorful and flavorful. No mushy brown mess for me. And I refuse to let the overly aggressive beef flavors dominate the pot. That is why I am using (feather-less gill-less) chicken stock with a big hit of red wine vinegar as my braising liquid. The vinegar is key to the sharp flavored broth that really accentuates the beef and brightens the vegetables. So don’t skip or skimp it.

I think this may be the end of me not really liking pot roast.

Garlicky Pot Roast with Roasted Potatoes & Root Vegetables  Serves 6 CLICK here for a printable recipe.

  • 2 turnips or rutabages, peeled and cut into 1‑inch chunks
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 1‑inch chunks
  • 1 lb red potatoes, cut into 1‑inch chunks
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 12 clv garlic, peeled and halved or quartered lengthwise
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c red wine vinegar
  • 3 c chicken stock, plus more if necessary
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 (3 to 3 1/2‑pound) boneless beef chuck roast, or beef brisket
pot roastPlace the root vegetables in a shallow sided baking dish, large enough to hold them in nearly a single layer. Use about 1/2 of the time sprigs strewn on top. Drizzle it all with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Place in oven and roast for about 40–50 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and well browned. Remove them from the oven, discarding the thyme sprigs and set the vegetables aside in the baking dish.

Using the tip of a sharp paring knife make evenly spaced slits into the top of the meat about 1 1/2‑inches apart and just as deep. Insert pieces of garlic cloves into each hole as deeply as possible. Season the roast well on all sides with the salt and pepper

Heat an enameled cast iron Dutch oven over high heat. Add the vegetable oil to nearly smoking. Add the meat to the pot with the garlic slit filled side facing up. Sear the on all sides until very well browned, about 4 to 6 minutes per side. Save the garlic slit filled side for last so it ends up face down.

Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom. Add about an inch of stock to the pan, letting it come to a boil. Toss in the remaining thyme sprigs , then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the meat and cook until it is very tender, about 3 or 4 hours, depending on the cut. Turn the meat over two or three times during the entire cooking process. Checking occasionally to make sure there is always about 1‑inch of liquid in the pot.

About 20 minutes before the pot roast is fully cooked, add the roasted root vegetables to the pan and remove as many as the thyme sprigs as you can.

Once completely tender, transfer just the meat to a deep dish serving platter, letting it rest. Add the butter to the pot with the vegetables stirring to get them well coated. Remove any linger thyme sprigs.

Slice or pull meat apart into serving-sized pieces, then and pour the vegetables and all the juices over the meat and serve warm.



Greg Henry