Dad’s Pot Roast

November 3, 2011

Margaux says…

For the most part, I tend to cook a new recipe every night.  But there are a few things that I make on a regular basis (meaning, 2-3 times a year), and this is one of them.  I am a meat-and-potatoes kind of gal…have been since the beginning.  Pot roast is one of my favorite things, next to steak and mashed potatoes, and my dad gave me this recipe for it when I was in middle school.  I’m pretty sure it’s my Granny’s recipe, although she may not have put in the garlic or herbs. Anyway, it’s been a standard for me ever since!

You have to get a nice, marble-y piece of meat…that’s what makes it good.  You can add as many potatoes and carrots as your pot will allow…it seems I can never cook enough carrots!  Just add a little more water if you need to when adding the veg.  The water doesn’t have to completely cover, because the tight-fitting lid will create a steam bath in there, but it should almost cover the ingredients.

The best part about pot roast (well, second best, next to the taste!), is that it is super easy to make!  I like to make it on days where I have a lot of other things going on…it only has a few ingredients, and prep time is only about 10-15 minutes.  If you’re making gravy (which is totally necessary, in my book), that will take another few minutes at the end, but it’s worth the trouble.

Dad’s Pot Roast

2- 2 1/2 lb. Boston or chuck roast
1 medium onion, quartered
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp oregano
2-4 potatoes, quartered
2-4 carrots, cut into 3″ pieces
2-3 cups water (or more, if needed)

You need a dutch oven, cast iron is best-it adds flavor! Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Salt and pepper both sides of the meat. On top of the stove, over medium-high heat, heat oil, and brown meat on both sides. Add water to the top of the meat and add onion, herbs, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Place a tight-fitting lid on top and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and add potatoes and carrots (and a little more water if needed), and cook one more hour. Mmm-mmm-good.

Pan Gravy

I like to use Wondra flour for my gravy–it makes it super easy. First thing you need to do is remove the meat and vegetables from the pan, and strain the juices. I usually reserve 2 cups of the juices for gravy, because my family likes gravy…it makes a lot of gravy. Put the 2 cups of strained juices back in the pan, and turn the heat on medium. Whisk together 4 tbsp Wondra flour and 1/2 cup water. Whisking constantly, add flour/water mixture to the pan, and continue stirring until boiling. Boil a few more minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Sometimes I like to get fancy and make red-wine gravy. In this case, just substitute 1/2 cup red wine for 1/2 cup of the juices. It gives the gravy a lot of yummy flavor!

Margaux says

This dish is a staple in our household.  The chicken is perfect: juicy, flavorful and perfectly cooked every time.   The carrots are super delicious…my husband, who doesn’t like cooked carrots, even loves them.  It’s also very easy to make, and can be a relatively quick weeknight meal.  You need to have the preserved lemons in order to make this (I made it without them once and the chicken wasn’t nearly as good!).  If Meyer lemons aren’t available (and they’re not right now…they’re only in season from February-April), you can use regular lemons.   And you can buy preserved lemons in some stores, like Whole Foods, but they’re not NEARLY as good as homemade.

Aunt Suzy says

I also love this recipe and Margaux is reminding me that we have not made this in a long, long time!  I just noticed carrots available for the first time at the farmer’s market last weekend, so I have a hunch this will be on our menu soon.  The original recipe for this did not call for preserved lemon, instead calling for thin slices of lemon placed over the chicken.  I’ve made it both ways and like it with the preserved lemon better – but then I love preserved lemon!!  Sparkle Rice seems to be a perfect match for this dish, but I’ve been thinking of experimenting with Isreali Couscous lately as a side dish.  The original recipe suggested an off-dry riesling or a rose – either is perfect!

MOROCCAN-STYLE CHICKEN WITH SPICED CARROTS

Serves 4

The Carrots

6-8 large carrots

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon coriander seeds

¼ teaspoon cumin seeds

pinch cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

Peel the carrots.  Using a study vegetable peeler, cut carrots into lengthwise ribbons.


Toast the cumin seeds lightly and then crush in a mortar and pestle.  Toast the coriander seeds. (I toast them together and crush both.)   Toss the carrots with all remaining ingredients and place in a 9×13 baking dish.  Bake at 500 degrees in the upper third of the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes – stir after 4 minutes.

The Chicken and Finishing

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs OR 4 boneless, skinless breast halves (we always use breasts)

1/8” wide strips of preserved lemon (or thin slices of whole lemon, cut cross-wise)

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (we always use more, but then we’re cilantro lovers!)

Brush the chicken lightly with olive oil and place on top of the carrots after they have baked per above.  Place the strips of preserved lemon or fresh lemon slices on top of the chicken.  Put back in the oven for about 10-15 minutes more (depending on thickness of the breasts), until the juices run clear.  Don’t overcook.  Place chicken on a platter.  Toss the carrots with the cilantro and place beside the chicken on the platter.

Sparkle Rice

Sauté in a little vegetable oil until soft – 2-4 garlic cloves, minced; 1-2 tablespoons chopped ginger; 1 medium onion, diced; 2 carrots, diced.

Add 2 cups white basmati rice and sauté till translucent.  Add a little less than 4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth and 5 whole cloves and a 2-inch piece of cinnamon.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till the broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Let sit for a few minutes, then remove the cloves and cinnamon and stir to blend.  Add some golden raisins if you wish.