This classic beef pot roast is the ultimate winter recipe! Warm up with this incredible, soft luscious beef and gravy. You can make this on the stovetop, oven, slow or pressure cooker and the result is one of the most delicious and yet simple ways to serve up an inexpensive cut of beef. This is one of my favourite slow cooked beef recipes ever and it is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
The key feature of a pot roast is the tender beef that is so soft you can pull apart with a fork and the luscious jus or gravy that you serve with it that the beef is cooked in. I have been making this beef pot roast a lot this winter because Mr NQN absolutely adores it (and who knew, he doesn't usually go for beef) but also because beef pot roast uses vegetables that are inexpensive and plentiful at the moment. For those of you that are outside Australia, we're currently in a vegetable crisis in Australia where some vegetables like lettuce cost $10-$14 a head due to floods in Queensland and an unseasonable cold snap in the Southern states. This pot roast uses carrots, celery and potatoes that have all remained low in price.
I don't know about you but I often get confused when I see all the cuts of beef available. For me chicken is a cinch, it's white or dark meat or a whole chicken or pieces. Lamb is easy - leg is lean, shoulder and ribs are fatty luscious and shanks are great for slow cooking and cutlets are great for dinner parties and barbecues. But beef seems to have so many more cuts and sometimes the cuts have many different names, depending on the country or sometimes just because!
The best cut of beef for a classic pot roast is Chuck roast i.e. one that has a lot of fat marbled through it. Other roast cuts, while they'll still be tasty, won't have the same melt in the mouth quality that a Chuck beef roast will have. Chuck is from the neck and shoulder area of the cow and is perfect for slow cooking and really I don't recommend making this unless you have a Chuck roast. While it is easy to get chuck steaks at the supermarket, a whole chuck roast is easiest to get from a butcher.
Beef Pot Roast Flavours Are Simple: beef stock, garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Some people serve the carrots and celery with it and if you enjoy softer vegetables you can but they're really there as flavour enhancers and they become very, very soggy by the end of cooking. I do like adding some carrots and potatoes halfway through though so that they're cooked but not soggy and they soak up the flavours of the broth. I also add anchovies to create more umami, brown sugar and mustard to balance it and brandy for flavour and chilli because it's me. What you end up with is a delicious gravy that permeates through the meat. It will drive everyone crazy with the smell - the two legged and four legged variety!
The day that I made this I was home by myself with the two Teddys. Yes I am one of those doggy parents that arranges sleepovers for their dog. A few weeks earlier Sammie and I had decided to do a Teddy swap. I would take both Teddys for two nights and then Sammie would take both Teddys for another two nights just so we could experience the two Teddys together. The two Teddys get on so well together that I liken them to the best mood uppers. If you're feeling sick or cold or general malaise all you have to do is hang out with the two Teddys and I promise you your mood will be brightened. The two Teddy's are both similar but have their own personalities. Teddy Elliott is vocal, confident, tiny and highly food motivated. Teddy Roo is a pure love bug with a permanently happy wagging tail that wants to hang around you all the time but is a bit fussy with food. Whenever the two are together they are just like siblings that adore each other and rumble and play and curl up in the same bed head to tail and always touching like yin and yang symbols.
Teddy with his eye on the prize
Mr NQN had gone into his new work as he has to go in a couple of days a week and I had both boys by myself. It was perhaps foolhardy to make this beef pot roast around two dogs. The smell of this cooking drove them crazy. When Teddy Elliot smelled it cooling he serenaded it plaintively as he often does when there is something that he wants to eat-it's like a dog singing. Then once Teddy Elliott started Teddy Roo would get in on the act. Normally if Mr NQN is home he can take both into his office and we can close the door but I didn't want to close them off into a room by themselves. As I was slicing this melt-in-the-mouth beef pot roast it was so soft that a few pieces fell to the ground. Both boys looked up at me with wide, saucer eyes as they were positioned perfectly for any falling bits of meat. I nodded and Teddy Elliott snatched it up in a second but of course I had to cut Teddy Roo a piece just because I don't want to encourage any sort of sibling rivalry!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like pot roasts? Do you find beef cuts confusing?
Beef Pot Roast
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 1/4 hours (pressure cooker) to 6 1/4 hours (slow cooker)
- 1.5 kilo/3.3lb chuck beef roast, cut in half if needed
- Salt and pepper
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into sixths
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 2 long sticks celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 3 carrots, cut in half
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large chilli (optional), sliced
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 3 cups beef stock (this makes a lot of gravy, use 2 cups of stock if you want less)
- 1 beef stock cube
- 1.5 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 brown anchovies, roughly chopped
- Splash (ok 2 tablespoons) brandy
- 750g/1.6lbs potatoes, halved if larger
- 4 carrots, peeled and halved
- 5 tablespoons cornflour/fine cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water
Note: I prefer using larger potatoes and cutting them in half because the sauce permeates the potato better than using whole baby potatoes
Browning the beef
Step 1- Take the beef out of the fridge 2 hours before cooking it to let it come to room temperature (this produces a more tender roast). Then whisk the beef stock, crumbled stock cube, sugar, mustard and anchovies in a jug. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper and then add some oil to a cast iron pot or instant pot set to saute and brown on all sides. Remove from the pot and set aside. Add the onion and saute in the oil adding more if needed. Then add the garlic and saute for a minute.
Step 2- Deglaze the pan with some of the beef stock mixture. Then place the carrots and celery on the base of the pot and place the beef back in and add all of the stock mixture, bay leaves, rosemary and chilli. Place the lid on (or foil) and cook for (all times below are for a 1.5 kilo roast, adjust times if your roast is bigger or smaller).
Cooktop: 4-5 hours on a low-medium simmer with the lid on. Add potatoes and carrots in 1 hour before finishing
Oven: 160C/320F oven for 5 hours. Add potatoes and carrots in 1 hour before finishing.
Pressure cooker on high for 1.5 hours and release with a natural release. Add potatoes and carrots in 15 minutes before finishing
Slow Cooker: low for 6-8 hours. Add potatoes and carrots in 4 hours before finishing.
After the beef is ready
Step 3- Remove the beef and the potatoes and the second lot of carrots (the first lot of carrots will be reduced to mush) and place on a serving plate and cover with foil. Skim any fat from on top of the liquid in a pot. Strain the mushy vegetables out and then bring the liquid it to a simmer adding the brandy and seasoning with salt and pepper. Then mix the cornflour and water in a small bowl and add to the pot, stirring, to produce a thicker gravy.
Adding in potatoes and fresh carrots
Step 4- Take two forks and pry apart the beef-it should fall apart easily. Once the liquid has become a thicker, sauce-like consistency then pour it over the beef. Serve with the potatoes and carrots and sprinkle with parsley.