It’s hard to beat a good pot roast: its 100% pure unsexiness, its unapologetic brownness, the fact that as a dish it’s basically an exercise in the textural submission of its ingredients. Even the name “Pot Roast” is so perfectly unassuming it sounds like something brown and unglamorous.

And that is its brilliance.

Everybody has eaten pot roast. Everybody likes pot roast. It’s simple. And it should be simple. Pot roast is one of those things that isn’t made better with embellishment: a tasty ropey piece of meat from a hard working piece of the animal, an assortment of same-pot vegetables, and (what had better be) an ass kicking broth. Its only allowable interloper is a little vinegar and horseradish, because they make it brilliant. Its only rightful companion is something starchy and good to help soak up the gravy and get it into your mouth easier. Trying to fancify or gussy up a pot roast is, in a word, bullshit. We have to let some things remain unburnished and hard working. In other words, I don’t want any microgreens, foams or pretension in my pot roast. I want it in a bowl.

This is my pot roast. Probably not the world’s best, but it’s my best. I made this one with some horseradish mashed potatoes. It goes well with a nice glass of beefy red wine and a few friends, but it goes better with a can of cheap beer and sitting by yourself in long johns on a cold night. And isn’t that what pot roast is about anyway?

Pot Roast

1 chuck roast, or other fatty, tough cut, preferably with bone-in
Bacon, diced
Red wine
Stock or broth
Onions, quartered
Carrots, skinned and cut into 2 inch lengths
Celery, cut into 2 inch lengths
Garlic, chopped
Tomato paste
Bay leaves
Salt & Pepper

Season the beef aggressively with salt and pepper. In a large pot or Dutch oven brown the bacon pieces and remove, leaving the rendered fat. Turn the heat up to high and brown the beef on all sides and remove it from the pan. Add in a spoon of tomato paste and brown it. Add in your red wine and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any tasty brown bits. Once the bottom of the pan feels clear, throw in your remaining ingredients, except the parsley and vinegar. Put the browned bacon and beef back in the pot. Cover the pot and put it in a hot oven for a few hours or until the beef is tender and pulls away from the bone easily. The veg should be more than tender by this point. Remove from the oven, throw in a little vinegar and chopped parsley and more salt and pepper if needed. Serve in a bowl with horseradish mashed potatoes and some husky bread.

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

Large Russet Potatoes
Milk & Cream

Halve and boil the potatoes till they’re done. Remove their skins when cool enough to handle. Return the halves to the pan, stirring over high heat till they leave a light white residue. Add in your milk and cream and mash. When you have your desired consistency remove from the heat and add in your butter, horseradish and salt to taste.

A Double Endorsement: The Pot Roast Sandwich

They say turkey is the best meat for sandwich leftovers, evidently “they” don’t eat enough pot roast. The next day, after you make pot roast, slice up some leftover meat, heat it up in the broth with some of the cooked onions. Get two slices of big, thick bread (preferably something with grains or seeds in it) and give them a good smear of whole grain mustard and horseradish. Put the heated meat and onions on the bread, use the remaining broth for dipping, take a nap a happy man.


  1. ella says:

    Oh my you’ve made me hungry. I think I’ll be making pot roast ala Jake this weekend.