Take one 4-5 pound pot roast, put it into a heavy cast iron or club aluminum Dutch oven with lots of onions, mushrooms, carrots, spices, and wine, and in about 4 hours you’ll produce one of the finest pot roasts ever to pass a mere mortal’s lips . . . especially if you make sure you got some French bread handy for gravy-sopping!
1/4 cup butter/olive oil mixture
3 medium onions, sliced into rings
1 pound ultra-fresh mushrooms, quartered
1 pound large carrots, peeled and quartered
10-12 fresh garlic toes, peeled
5 pound pot roast, trimmed of fat
2 tablespoons Frank Davis Beef Seasoning
1 teaspoon black pepper, coarse-ground
1/3 cup all-purpose flour for dusting
1 cup chicken or beef stock
3 cans creamy chicken mushroom soup
3/4 cup dry sherry
1 package dry onion soup mix
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 + cups cooked steamed white rice, ready to serve hot
4 cups buttered and seasoned green peas
2 loaves toasted French bread for sopping
This is one of those “easy step recipes.” So if you’ll follow the steps, you’ll fix this roast with virtually no trouble at all! Ready?
Step One: First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then in a heavy 6-quart Club aluminum or cast iron Dutch oven, heat the butter/olive oil mixture over a high flame, drop in the onion rings and mushroom quarters, and sauté them together until they richly caramelize (which means they become a toasty brown all over without burning). Then, when they’re done right, remove them from the pot, place them in a colander, put the colander inside of a large bowl, and allow the excess oil to drip off. But immediately drop the carrots into the Dutch oven and sauté them as well for about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring constantly to toast the beta carotene and sweeten them up. Finally, in this step, remove the carrots from the pot and place them on top of the onions in the colander so that they, too, can drain. . .but right away toss into the same skillet the minced garlic pods and sauté them gently until they begin to caramelize. Then remove them from the Dutch oven and place them in the colander on top of the carrots.
Step Two: In the meantime, while the excess oil is leeching out of the sautéed vegetable mix, sprinkle the roast liberally with the beef seasoning and the cracked black pepper. Finally, top off this step by giving the roast a liberal dusting all over with the all-purpose flour.
Step Three: At this point you want to pour all the excess oil/butter mix (which has been collecting in the bowl under the colander) back into the Dutch oven and bring it to high heat. When the oil—which now carries the flavor of the onions, the mushrooms, and the carrots—is good and hot, ease the roast down inside the pot with a couple of meat forks and, turning it on all sides with the forks, brown it thoroughly all over. Then when the beef has become richly seared (and you do this to seal in all the natural juices), remove it from the Dutch oven and set it aside for a moment.
Step Four: If you’ve browned the roast properly, a great deal of the flour you dusted it with (along with some of the salt and pepper) will have come off of the meat and will now be stuck to the bottom of the pot. So your next step is to reduce the heat to low, pour in the chicken stock, the wine, and the dried onion soup mix and with a wooden spoon or egg spatula deglaze the pot, unsticking all the debris and transforming it into a rich base for a gravy. When the consistency becomes slightly thickened (and it should take you about 6 minutes to deglaze the pot), stir in the cream soup, the parsley, and the pepper flakes and, with a wire whisk, whip the gravy into a velvety smoothness.
Step Five: Now you’re ready to set the roast into the gravy, evenly spoon the sautéed onions, mushrooms, and carrots on top of the roast. All that’s left now is to pop the lid on top of the Dutch oven (and a cast iron Dutch oven really does work best!), slide the pot into your 350° oven, and bake anywhere from 4 to 5 hours.
Finally, when the meat has cooked for the allotted amount of time, you want to do three important sub-steps: 1) remove all the carrots from the pot with a set of tongs and place them on a serving platter; 2) remove the roast from the pot, set it on a carving board, and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before thinly slicing it with an electric knife; and 3) strain the gravy by using a spoon to press it through a sieve to remove residual onions and mushrooms and other debris.
Then when you’re ready to eat, serve the slices of roast with a short “pile” of rice alongside several braised carrots, liberally ladle the velvety gravy over the top or around the sides, spoon on some buttered peas if you so desire, set the plate on the table next to a cold crispy green salad, and crown the entire meal off large crusty piece of hot French bread for soppin’.
I’m telling ya, MawMaw had a winner here!
1. I prefer to do this roast with a top sirloin, bottom round, or rump. A chuck roast will also work but the gravy will turn out much oilier when the dish is done. Your resulting gravy will definitely have to be skimmed of fat before service.
2. Try to resist opening and closing the oven to peek at the roast as it cooks. Take my word for it; it’s not going to burn! I wouldn’t look in the pot until at least 3 hours have passed! And then it’s just to check on liquid levels, which should be fine. But if you’d like a little more gravy, you can add additional chicken stock (or even a little more wine).
3. This roast is best-appreciated if cut into thin slices. The tenderness is such that it appears to melt in your mouth. I find that while a good sharp slicer knife will do the job, an electric knife has no equal.
4. To cook the roast in a crock pot, sauté everything together—except the pot roast—in a butter and olive oil mix in a 12-inch non-stick skillet until wilted. Then transfer the ingredients from the skillet to the crock pot, but put the skillet immediately back on the fire and add to it a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Then turn the heat up to “high,” take the roast, and sear it well on all sides until totally crusted over. Now you’re ready to put the roast into the crock pot, distribute the other ingredients evenly over and under the meat, cover the crock pot tightly, and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.
5. So who is Lester? He’s one of our TV technical crew who insists that the best meal I ever did was this pot roast. And not a month goes by without him asking, “Frank, when you gonna do that MawMaw’s Pot Roast again.” So this is an encore presentation for Lester. . .and for lagniappe, I re-named it after him!