Wild Thistle Kitchen: Simple Pot Roast

This Simple Pot Roast Recipe might be simple, but it is neither ordinary nor boring. I realize I have been posting a lot of simple or basic recipes lately – something for which I am completely unapologetic. Meatballs, cookies, muffins: while they may be ordinary, normal, everyday recipes, this is the kind of food I cook this time of year — the kind of food I crave this time of year — always, really but especially when it’s cold outside.

Every once in a while, I get carried away and make some wild recipe I’ve been dying to try, but for the most part, I make pretty homey, comforting, familiar food. Craveable food. If it’s chilly or especially snowy outside, this is one of the first recipes I think of.

When in doubt, make pot roast. That’s my theory. Or motto? Either way, it’s always a good choice.

A Few Notes on the Way I Make My Pot Roast

Pot roast: such a terrible name for such a delicious thing. It takes like 10-20 minutes to prep, then you forget about it for hours! And it’s unbelievably inexpensive. This is probably my son’s favorite meal. He requested this and my Potato Gratin (AKA “those good cheesy potatoes”) for his birthday dinner two years in a row.

Yes, you’ll find coffee in the ingredient list for this simple pot roast recipe. I started adding coffee to my roasts at some point, and if I have some leftover in the coffee pot, I use it. If not, I don’t. I have this distant, hazy memory of my dad making a stewed rabbit dish with coffee when I was a little girl and it was so delicious. Your roast won’t taste like coffee, but it adds something – a darkness and depth to the sauce that is really special. It also gives the roast (along with the searing) a dramatic, super-dark color on the outside.

Also, the wine is optional, but again it adds something, an acidity that I think you’d miss if you left it out. You can use red or white, or none at all, but maybe add a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar to the cooking liquid. Once I used a Guinness beer that we had lingering in the fridge and it was so good. Surprisingly good. Heck, I’ve even used marsala in a pinch. Anyway, alcoholic beverages are optional, liquid is not. Whatever you choose, make sure you have a total of 4 cups liquid.

And Finally, Something Else That Sets My Simple Pot Roast Recipe Apart

I don’t add veggies – I know, crazy, right? I prefer to serve separate, fresher, more vibrant veggies rather than soggy, mushy, overcooked ones. See below for some of my favorites.

What to Serve with This Simple Pot Roast

I used to always serve it with peas and/or corn, but as my kids have grown, I find I make it with more grownup veggies. Now, I love to serve it with mushrooms, cooked in butter, broth, and wine, until the liquid evaporates and they become almost glazed. Give the same treatment to some beautiful pinkish-lavender shallots and you have an updated, super elegant, Frenchified classic.

Serve it with mashed potatoes, egg noodles, creamy polenta, rice, or some good crusty bread. You have to have something to soak up that flavorful sauce.

Speaking of the sauce, if you want to thicken it and make it more gravy-like, a recipe follows. This step is optional, and completely a matter of personal preference. (I love gravy).


For roast:

  • 2 1.5 lb chuck roasts (or one big 3-4 lb roast)
  • 2 ½ cups beef broth
  • 1 cup wine, beer, or about ¼ cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup brewed coffee
  • plenty of salt and pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole garlic cloves

For Beurre manié (a fancy French term for flour and butter mashed together to thicken the sauce):

  • 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour

For full instructions see https://wildthistlekitchen.com/simple-pot-roast/.



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