World’s Easiest Pot Roast & Other Main Dish Favorites

I’ve got a seven-bone roast in the oven, cooking with some mushrooms and carrots; the vote was for mashed potatoes to go with, not roasted. I also have a cast-ion dutch oven of mushroom gravy simmering on top of the stove. The thought crossed my mind this afternoon that pot roasts would be a good topic for my blog.  Everyone wants to make a good pot roast; a lot of people just don’t know how. And it couldn’t be easier. There really isn’t a recipe per se – I pull out two long sheets of the heavy duty aluminum foil and then lay a pot roast on top of it. Then I dump on some dry onion soup mix and maybe some dry mushroom gravy powder. Add some garlic, if I have it. Add some cleaned carrots and if I have them on hand, sliced fresh mushrooms. Then you just wrap it up tight and put it on a foil-lined cookie sheet and let it start roasting in a slow oven, the longer the better. This has always been one of those fall-back on recipes when I know I am going to be busy all day but need to think ahead about dinner. Midway you can add some potatoes – if you add them too soon they will be mush.

What I have been doing today was slicing and cooking down a big container of mushrooms from Sam’s Club–then I mixed two packages of mushroom gravy mix with two cups of water and a dollop of Kitchen Bouquet (my favorite flavor enhancer) and let it cook a while. When the mushrooms roasting in the pot were done I added those to the gravy too. It’s not rocket science – you can make a roast like this with almost any cut of meat – the trick is to let it cook long and slow. You can also make it with a package of onion soup mix and a can of mushroom soup–and nothing else.  Whatever embellishments you add are up to you.  Another thing I like to do is pour the potato water into the gravy and then thicken it some more. I hate to pour out potato water – it’s full of vitamins and minerals…and it helps thicken the gravy, too.  Anyway, that’s how I make a pot roast that is always delicious. And clean-up couldn’t be easier – wad up the aluminum foil and toss it into the trash. Voila!  And IF you have any leftovers, you can make the world’s best beef stew the next day – just cut up the left over meat, add the left over gravy (if you have any–if not add some water) – cut up the leftover carrots, if there are any – and dump in a couple of boxes of frozen mixed vegetables. Let it all cook together so that everybody gets well acquainted and you have a wonderful beef stew. One of my daughters in law makes the pot roast when I visit them, just so I will make up a stew for her the next day.

Well, I don’t want to limit you to just an idea or two of mine so here are a few other pot roast recipes to contemplate:

Shoney’s Slow-Cooked Pot Roast

You will need:

2 tablespoons butter

3 lbs rump roast, trimmed

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

2 cups beef broth

20 whole peppercorns

1 whole bay leaf

1/2 tablespoon salt

2 carrots, sliced

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup flour

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Melt butter in Dutch oven; add roast and brown on all sides;

remove to platter. Add celery, onion, garlic, parsley and thyme to

Dutch oven; sauté 5 minutes; return roast to Dutch oven.

3. Add broth, peppercorns, bay leaf and salt; cover; place in

preheated oven. Cook roast 4 hours; baste every 30 minutes.

4. When done, remove roast and strain stock into bowl; discard

vegetables. Using two forks, shred meat into bite-sized pieces and

return to Dutch oven. Pour strained broth over shredded beef; add

carrots, potatoes and salt. Return to oven and cook for 45

additional minutes.

5. Drain and measure stock from Dutch oven. Add enough beef broth

to measure 3 cups and place in saucepan. Whisk in flour; simmer

until thick. Pour over meat and vegetables.

Serves 6

Easiest Ever Crock Pot Beef Stew

You will need:

1 package (24 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables

1 pound lean stewing beef, cut into small cubes

1 can condensed tomato soup (undiluted)

½ cup water

2 tablespoons dried onion flakes

salt & pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

Dash of Kitchen Bouquet

Put the vegetables in the bottom of the crockpot. Add meat. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients and pour over the meat and vegetables. Cover and cook on low setting 12-14 hours (on high, 3-4 hours). Makes 4 servings.

This is a good recipe to toss into the crockpot before you go to work in the morning. Or if you are a mother chasing after young children all day, a good recipe to get things moving before the household turns into a circus (been there, done that).

Easiest Slow Cooker Beef Stew

You will need:

1 package (24 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables

1 pound lean stewing beef, cut into small cubes

1 can condensed tomato soup (undiluted)

½ cup water

2 tablespoons dried onion flakes

Salt & pepper to taste

Put the vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add meat. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients and pour over the meat and vegetables. Cover and cook on low setting 12-14 hours (on high, 3-4 hours). Makes 4 servings.

This is a good recipe to toss into the slow cooker before you go to work in the morning.

Savory Slow Cooker Beef Stew

You will need:

1 (24 oz) package frozen mixed vegetables

1 lb lean stewing beef, cut into small cubes

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1 pkg onion soup mix

½ cup water

Put the frozen vegetables into the slow cooker. Add meat.  Mix together condensed cream of mushroom soup with ½ cup water; pour over vegetables and meat. Sprinkle on onion soup mix, stir to mix; cover and cook on low setting 8-10 hours or on high 3-4 hours.

5-ingredient Slow Cooker Brisket

You will need:

3-4 lb beef brisket

1 large onion, sliced

1 TBSP liquid smoke

1 12-oz bottle chili sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Arrange onion slices in bottom of slow cooker. Place brisket over onions. Sprinkle on liquid smoke. Pour chili sauce over meat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and cook on low setting 10-12 hours.

(You can add peeled potatoes and carrots in the last 2 hours for a complete meal. Add a little water if necessary).

5-ingredient BBQ Brisket

You will need:

4-5 lb beef brisket

1 ½ cups your favorite commercial BBQ sauce

1.5 oz bottle liquid smoke

Seasonings: sprinkling of celery salt, garlic salt, onion salt

Place brisket is slow cooker. Sprinkle with seasonings. Pour on liquid smoke. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours. Next day, cook on low setting 8-10 hours or until tender. During the last hour, pour BBQ sauce over the brisket. Excellent served on buns with cole slaw on the side.

And here is my absolutely favorite meat loaf recipe, clipped from an L.A. Times newspaper years ago – but it was passed on to me by my email friend Pat, who I met on the food & wine boards on PRODIGY (if anyone remembers that).

JERRY’S FAMOUS DELI MEAT LOAF

You will need:

2 TBSP BUTTER

1 LARGE ONION, CHOPPED

2 EGGS

2 ½ LBS GROUND BEEF

1 LARGE GREEN BELL PEPPER, CHOPPED (or substitute celery)

½ CUP MATZO MEAL

2 CARROTS, PEELED AND MINCED

1 ½ TSP PEPPER

1 ½ TSP GARLIC POWDER

1 ½ TBSP COARSE SALT

¼ C. CATSUP

MELT the butter over low heat and cook onion until carmelized, about 20-25 minutes.   Combine onion with eggs, beef, bell pepper, matzo meal, carrots, bell pepper, garlic powder & salt in a large bowl. Mix well. Pat mixture into loaf on baking sheet or pack into 2 loaf pans.  Spread or brush catsup on top.  Bake at 375 50 minutes to an hour. Serve plain or with brown mushroom gravy, if desired.

(Sandy’s cooknote: I made this last week and it fits nicely into 2 standard loaf pans. You could freeze one & it wouldn’t take up too much space. This is the BEST meatloaf I have ever discovered. Makes great sandwiches with the leftovers, too.)

Brown Mushroom gravy:

You will need:

3 tbsp oil

1 lb mushrooms, sliced

¼ minced shallots or green onion

1 clove garlic minced

1 ½ tbsp flour

1 cup chicken broth

½ c. dry white wine

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp chopped parsley

½ tsp thyme

¼ tsp salt

pinch pepper.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in skillet over medium heat, add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes until soft. Remove mushrooms from skillet; heat remaining 1 tbsp oil, add shallots and garlic & cook 4 minutes until soft. Stir in flour. Gradually add broth & wine. Cook and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper & mushrooms. Heat thoroughly. Serve with meat loaf.

(Sandy’s cooknote: I have never made this gravy recipe. If I want a brown mushroom gravy to go with the meatloaf, I just make up my own—we usually eat the meat loaf “as is”.  My friend Pat came up with the idea of spreading on some chili sauce instead of catsup & we really like that. There is a brand of chili sauce here called Homestyle that comes in a round jar; we all love it. If you WANT a mushroom gravy, make up a couple of packets of French’s brown gravy mix & stir in sliced mushrooms – much easier!)

SANDY’S PEPPER STEAK

This is one of the recipes I have been making for over 40 years. It’s really good and something you can easily throw together when unexpected company comes knocking at your door.

2 to 2 ½ lbs London broil or round steak cut in ½” slices

½ cup solid shortening Crisco

2 cans (16 oz total) tomatoes

2 ½ cups water

1 chopped onion

2 small cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

6 TBSP brown roux*

4 large green bell peppers

2 cups carrot strips

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

Brown meat in Crisco; drain off excess.  Drain tomatoes, reserving liquid. Add reserved liquid, water, onion, salt, and pepper to meat in skillet. Cover and simmer 1 hr or until meat is tender. Uncover; add Worcestershire sauce. Stir in roux. Cook until thick and bubbly. Cut green peppers into strips and add to meat with drained tomatoes. Add partially cooked carrots (I precook them in the microwave). Simmer 5 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cook an additional minute or two. Serve over hot cooked rice or noodles.

*To make a roux, blend 1 cup solid-shortening Crisco with 1 cup flour until smooth. Stir in 2 TBSP Kitchen Bouquet. Refrigerate mix in a covered container until needed. To use the roux, use 3 TBSP roux for each cup of liquid and cook until thickened. Roux will keep indefinitely in the frig.

One more favorite is Beef Burgundy. Do you know, I have been making this dish for so many years that I couldn’t remember at first where to find a written copy of it .  But here it is:

BEEF BURGUNDY

You will need:

1-2 lbs of top sirloin or London broil

1 small onion, chopped fine

1 8-oz can of tomato sauce

1 8-oz can filled with Burgundy wine

½ lb sliced raw mushrooms (used canned ones in a pinch)

salt, pepper, pinch of oregano and marjoram

Slice meat very thin (if you partially freeze the meat, it will slice into nice thin slices).

Brown the meat in a small amount of butter or oil, along with the onion. Add tomato sauce, wine, and seasonings. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Fifteen minutes before serving, add mushrooms. Serve over hot rice or noodles and sprinkle with parsley, if you like.

(This can easily be doubled, too. And sometimes when I didn’t have any mushrooms, I tossed in very thin carrot sticks and let them cook with the other ingredients for an hour).

You may have noticed, these are all MEAT recipes. I’ll do a column one day soon on my favorite poultry recipes.

Happy Cooking!

Sandy

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