I can’t think of anything better than coming home to the smell of a roast wafting through the house, beckoning “it’s dinner time.” And this one is exceptionally flavorful and delicious.
The smell of a cooking roast is nostalgic to me. It’s said that smell is more closely linked to memory than any of the other five senses. The smell of freshly baked bread might trigger memories of grandma’s kitchen; the scent of cologne or perfume, a romantic encounter; the odor of mothballs, a great aunt’s house; the stench of stale carpet, those penny-pinching college dorm days. Whatever the association might be, smell is a powerful thing. And not that this has anything to do with pot roast, but I thought it was interesting so I’ll throw it in here anyway. From Psychology Today:
The actual ability to smell is highly linked to memory. Research has shown that when areas of the brain connected to memory are damaged, the ability to identify smells is actually impaired. In order to identify a scent, you must remember when you have smelled it before and then connect it to visual information that occurred at the same time. According to some research, studying information in the presence of an odor actually increases the vividness and intensity of that remembered information when you smell that odor again.
I may have to rethink how I approach my children’s learning. Instead of Mozart, Bach, or Beethoven in the background while they’re studying, I may instead need to place some fragrant flowers, a jar of cinnamon – or a Pot Roast next to them! ;)
Okay, back to the Pot Roast. For eating purposes, that is. For me, roasts are associated with Sunday. Growing up at home (and still in my own home today) roasts were always ideal to serve on Sundays. Three hours of church, including travel, meant just the right amount of time to be able to place everything in a timed oven or a slow cooker before leaving, and then come home to a ready meal. My mom would often already have the potatoes peeled in advance and covered with water in a stock pot, so when we got home – starving after all that time at church! – all she had to do was boil the potatoes, prepare another vegetable, and thicken the gravy. And before long we were seated at the table as a family enjoying great food and family bonding time.
What memories do you associate with pot roast?
I know your tummies are rumbling, so let’s get that roast a-cookin’!
But before we do, let me stress one thing I learned from my mom about cooking roasts: Probably THE single most important factor to the flavor of the finished roast is to fry it until it’s very browned on all sides before cooking it. That is the KEY to a deliciously flavorful roast so whatever you do, don’t skip that step! And don’t be afraid to get it good and browned. Not only will it greatly enhance the flavor of the roast itself, but all those burnt bits on the bottom of the pan is what will give the gravy that irresistibly wonderful flavor.
Okay, let’s get started!
First prepare the rub by placing all the spices in a small bowl and stirring to combine.
Rub, rub, rub that roast down on all sides using every last bit of that spice rub.
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (I use and love Lodge) or heavy skillet and liberally brown the roast on all sides.
Remove the roast and place it in the slow cooker.
Add the broth to the Dutch oven and bring it to a boil, scraping up the burnt bits on the bottom of the pan (that’s called “deglazing” for those of you who don’t know).
Add the tomato paste, red wine (if using), and salt and return it to a boil for a couple of minutes, stirring to combine.
Dump the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic around the sides and on top of the roast in the slow cooker.
Add the bay leavers and place the strips of bacon on top. I don’t usually add bacon, but I did this time. I thought, “why not?” As the ancient Chinese proverb goes, “There isn’t anything so good that bacon won’t make it that much better.”
Pour the beef broth mixture over the pot roast.
Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 8-9 hours. I cooked mine on low this time for an ultra tender roast.
Pour the finished beef broth into a medium stock pot, leaving the roast and vegetables in the warm slow cooker (on low), bring to a boil, and whisk in the flour slurry. Simmer until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the roast on a serving platter and spoon the vegetables around it. Discard the bay leaves and bacon. Pour a little of the gravy over the roast (it looks nicer that way) and serve with the extra gravy, some potatoes and veggies of your choice.
- 4 pound beef round roast (or chuck, depending on how lean you prefer it)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 strips bacon, cut in half
- 2½ cups beef broth
- ½ cup dry red wine (optional)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 bay leaves
- For the Rub:
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon basil
- ¼ teaspoon parsley
- For the Gravy Slurry:
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour mixed into a slurry with ½ cup canned beef broth
- Rub the roast all over with the rub mix.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over high heat and liberally brown the roast on all sides. Place the roast in a slow cooker.
- Add the broth to the skillet and whisk to loosen up the browned bits. Add the tomato paste, wine (if using), and salt and whisk to combine.
- Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and bay leaves into the slow cooker around and on top of the roast. Lay the strips of bacon alongside and on top of the roast. Pour the beef broth/tomato paste mixture over everything.
- Cook on low setting for 8-9 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
- Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a medium stock pot, leaving the roast and vegetables in the warm slow cooker. Bring to a boil and whisk in the gravy slurry and continue whisking until the gravy is thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place the pot roast on a serving platter and spoon the vegetables around it. Discard the bay leaves and bacon. Pour a little of the gravy over it and serve with gravy on the side along with potatoes and your choice of sides.