The foundation of my cooking abilities is built entirely on a stack of handwritten recipe cards from my mother-in-law. Beyond chicken soup and scrambled eggs, I did not have much experience in the kitchen when I met my husband, but he was a good cheerleader and soldiered through some of the rockier early meals. After we moved into our first house, he mentioned to his mom that I had made a lot of progress, but sometimes felt a little lost when it came to finding new things to make. She mailed me 8 recipes, neatly written on 4×5 cards, and they are the spine of my kitchen repertoire-anytime I need an idea, I flip through them. My absolute favorite recipe is the pot roast, and although I’ve tweaked it slightly over the years, the core of the recipe is still the same. Take your time with this recipe and enjoy the whole experience-you have a perfect excuse to cuddle up and watch a movie or read a book with a glass of wine while you wait for the roast to cook.
Shake Says: This is a definite favorite in our house. As such we pair it with one of our absolute favorite wines. Pearl and Stone Wince Co. is a winery in our town and they make an amazing Bordeaux style red blend called the Wandering. It is a bit of a splurge ($29) but well worth it and we love their wine so much we joined their wine club!
Equipment: Dutch oven with lid
Chuck roast, 3-5 lbs. (plan for at least ½ lb. per person, and the leftovers are delicious for open face sandwiches if you have extra)
1 onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
Carrots, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
Potatoes, cut into chunks about 1”
Whole mushrooms, stems removed (I like baby portabellas or button mushrooms)
1 onion, cut into 1 in. chunks, or 8-12 pearl onions
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (Campbell’s is the classic go-to, but if you shop at a store that sells Kroger products, I absolutely love the Simple Truth Organic brand)
1 can red wine (not actual canned wine, just use the mushroom soup can to measure. This is not inherently obvious to everyone.)
Extra red wine or dry sherry for deglazing, about ¼ cup
To serve: Crusty bread
Preheat oven to 325° F.
Prep all the vegetables. Keep the diced onion and garlic in separate piles from everything else, including each other. Gently wash the mushrooms and remove the stems by gently pulling-they will pop apart easily at the base of the cap in an immensely satisfying way. Peel and slice carrots, and cut potatoes. Peel and cut 2nd onion-if using pearl onions, cut off the base and leave them whole after you peel them. Put carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, and 2nd onion in bowl and set aside.
Heat a couple tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat in Dutch oven. Rinse chuck roast under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Salt meat sparingly – the soup has salt in it, so you don’t need to add too much extra. Sear in oil until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes a sides (make sure to get the edges too if you have a thick roast. Use tongs to hold it up if necessary.)
When meat has a nice sear all around, remove from pan using tongs and place on clean plate.
Deglaze pan with half the sherry, pouring carefully to avoid steam. Once the sherry boils and steams (it should happen immediately) turn heat down to medium. Scrape up the fond (brown stuff) from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. Once boiling has subsided and most of the liquid is gone, add diced onions and stir to combine with remaining liquid. Brown for several minutes until golden, stirring occasionally.
While onions are browning, combine soup, wine, soy sauce and Worcestershire in a small bowl. Add a teaspoon of vegemite if desired.
When onions are golden, turn heat to medium high and add garlic. Stir until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add remaining sherry and deglaze pan again. Add soup mixture, then return meat to pan. The meat will probably not be completely immersed, but make sure to spoon as much sauce over the top as possible-it clings pretty well since its so thick. Cover Dutch oven and place in oven for 2 hours.
After two hours, remove roast from oven and add remaining vegetables, stirring gently to incorporate. Make sure to spoon more sauce over the roast, then recover pot and return to oven. Cook for an additional hour.
10-20 minutes before roast is done, warm bread in oven with roast. If using frozen bread, the lower temperature will require longer cooking time.
Let roast rest for about 5 minutes after removing from oven. Use tongs and wooden spoon or butter knife to divide meat into individual portions and serve in bowl or shallow dish with bread with plenty of sauce.