Make Ahead Classic Pot Roast

From Cook's Illustrated, overnight pot roast. I did not particularly like this recipe but I'm posting it because I can use the techniques for my own way of making pot roast. Mostly I didn't care for the gravy. This recipe uses some tomato paste and balsamic vinegar and thickens the gravy by using a blender to liquify the cooked vegetables with the cooking liquid. The method of thickening worked really well, but the combination of the tomato paste and balsamic vinegar made the sauce rather acidic (sort of ketchup-ish). I prefer my gravy, which I thicken using a flour/butter roux, and finish with some heavy cream. However, the overnight method for pot roast is really convenient. I recently had an all-day event one Saturday, so I did the first day's work starting Friday evening (around 7pm). When I got back home on Saturday (extremely exhausted) I was able to have a big pot roast dinner with very little additional work.

One other comment about this recipe: they don't sear (brown) the meat first. The recipe had a side-bar that explains their testing, in which they tried pot roast with and without searing it. The result was that some browning could occur on the portion of the unseared pot roast that sits above the liquid level in the pot. Oddly, however, they say the result tasted "nearly" as good, and that the flavor compounds won't be as plentiful or richly flavored as when seared. Despite this they decided to skip the sear. All I can figure is that they consider the searing step to be too much trouble. I've always seared the pot roast first which I don't think takes any effort at all, I just throw it in the pot while I'm chopping the vegetables. I mean, between peeling and slicing onions, peeling and chopping carrots, peeling and mincing garlic, cleaning and chopping celery, etc there is a fair amount of prep work in this recipe. What kind of lazy assed cook are you to go through all that trouble chopping up all the ingredients, but it's too much effort to toss the meat in the pot to brown before you get started? I find it puzzling that they find the simple act of "searing" to be too much bother when they also say the results improve the pot roast.

Here are the notes from Cook's Illustrated:

This recipe can be made up to 2 days ahead. Our recommended beef broth is Rachael Ray Stock-in-a-Box Beef Flavored Stock. Chilling the whole cooked pot roast overnight improves its flavor and makes it moister and easier to slice.


1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, pulled into two pieces at natural seam and trimmed of large knobs of fat
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, halved and sliced thin (about 2 cups)
1 large carrot, chopped medium (about 1 cup)
1 celery rib, chopped medium (about 3/4 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup beef broth, plus 1 to 2 cups for sauce (see note)
1/2 cup dry red wine, plus 1/4 cup for sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig plus 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


1. Sprinkle pieces of meat with 1 tablespoon salt (1½ teaspoons if using table salt), place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Heat butter in heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add carrot and celery; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes longer. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup broth, ½ cup wine, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme sprig; bring to simmer.

3. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season generously with pepper. Using 3 pieces of kitchen twine, tie each piece of meat into loaf shape for even cooking.

4. Nestle meat on top of vegetables. Cover pot tightly with large piece of foil and cover with lid; transfer pot to oven. Cook beef until fully tender and sharp knife easily slips in and out of meat, 3½ to 4 hours, turning halfway through cooking.

5. Transfer the cooked roasts to a large bowl. Strain liquid through mesh strainer into 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig. Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then skim any fat off surface. Add beef broth as necessary to bring liquid amount to 3 cups. Transfer vegetables and liquid to bowl with the roasts, cover with plastic, cut vents in the plastic, and refrigerate overnight or up to 48 hours.

6. One hour before serving, heat the oven to 325 degrees, transfer the cold roasts to a cutting board, slice them against the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices, place them in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake until heated through, about 45 minutes.

7. While roast heats, place liquid and vegetables in a blender and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer sauce to medium saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat. Stir chopped thyme, remaining 1/4 cup wine, and vinegar into sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon half of sauce over meat; pass remaining sauce separately.