I grew up eating pot roast on a (very) regular basis. And while I will always love my mother’s old-school version, it was time for a little upgrade.
I nixed the “pantry helpers” like canned cream soup and replaced them with Dijon mustard, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar for delicious take on a classic.
My mom, a busy wife and mother of three, adhered to a strict weekly dinner rotation consisting of “new American” classics. Her repertoire of recipes was quick, consistent, and – most importantly – didn’t stir up complaints from the peanut gallery. She made no apologies about using convenience products to get food on the table, nor should she have. To this day, the thought of her cheesy chicken spaghetti and creamy beef stroganoff rouses a deep urge to return to my youth.
This recipe uses my favorite cast of flavors to create a rich yet homey dish. I’ve eaten one too many pot roasts on the dry side, so my goal was a buttery, falling-apart piece of meat.
The slow cooker is ideal: Low heat for a long time makes this recipe melt-in-your mouth delicious.
Beef chuck from the shoulder area is ideal for pot roast. Chuck can go by many names: 7-bone pot roast, blade roast, chuck-eye roast, boneless chuck roast, shoulder pot roast, mock tender, flat iron roast and cross-rib roast.
Choose whichever one has the size and shape to suit your needs. I tested this recipe with a 2 1/2-pound boneless chuck roast.
While my mom always cooked potatoes and carrots along with the meat, I like to serve the meat and rich gravy with creamy, stone-ground grits.
Maple-Dijon Pot Roast
2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef chuck roast
4 to 5 slices bacon, diced (or cooking oil)
3 large onions, peeled and sliced into half moons
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
PAT the beef dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.
SET a large Dutch oven or heavy skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add the bacon and cook until some fat starts rendering and it begins to turn golden. Push the bacon to the sides and add the beef. Sear both sides until golden brown, about 10 minutes per side, and transfer to the bowl of the slow cooker.
POUR off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in a few tablespoons of chicken stock and bring to a boil, scraping up any of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add to the slow cooker.
WHISK the remaining chicken stock, Dijon, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl until combined. Pour over the roast. Cover and cook on the low setting until the meat falls apart and is meltingly tender, about 8 hours.
TRANSFER the roast to serving bowl or platter and cover with foil. Pour the cooking liquids into large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until the gravy is reduced to desired thickness. Cut the roast into chunks and pour hot gravy over the top.
SERVE with creamy grits, egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
NOTE: To make in a Dutch oven, prepare the meat and vegetables as directed, then place all the ingredients in a Dutch oven. Cover and simmer over very low heat or in a 325-degree oven until tender, 2 to 3 hours.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
Nealey Dozier is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a website for home cooking.