Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
The beauty of a pot roast is in its simplicity. Brown some meat in a pot, throw in some vegetables with some herbs, stock and wine, leave it alone while it simmers, and in a few hours you have a deeply comforting and satisfying meal.
Pot roast is also a really forgiving dish. There’s more than one way to accomplish the feat, so you can tinker with the techniques and still get good results. Browning the vegetables isn’t really required—you could just throw them in the pot and be done with it—but this extra step is a chance to develop even deeper caramelized flavors. You can also adjust the dish's consistency. In this case, I left it on the thinner, soupier side, but you can easily thicken it by making a roux, adding cornstarch or letting the liquid reduce on the stove top.
Potatoes, carrots and onions are the most traditional vegetables to use, but you can swap in almost any combo of root vegetables without a problem. I used turnips in place of the potatoes, which added a pleasant combination of mild sweetness and a hint of bitterness to the mix. Mushrooms also work very well. Similarly, play with the seasonings to suit your tastes and whims. Tomato paste and bay leaves make great additions.
When it comes to wine pairings, pot roast is similarly versatile. Most medium- to full-bodied reds should work well; however, I’ve found that aggressive tannins can overpower the tender texture and mellow flavors, so stay away from the extreme end. While you could go for whatever bottle you have on hand, we can always strive to find the best match possible, even on a budget. Here, we decided to test out a Ribera del Duero from Spain and an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Ribera del Duero was rich and ripe, with dark blackberry and plum flavors and hints of smoke and tobacco. This wine had big, ripe tannins that turned silkier when sipped alongside the beef.
The Australian Cabernet was also quite ripe, with a combination of juicy red and black fruits and a little licorice spice. Overall, the Cabernet was brighter and fresher alongside the beef than the Ribera del Duero. Tart sour cherry notes came out in the wine, and its juiciness gave the otherwise rich combination a refreshing edge, making it our top pick.
Pair with a medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon that skews toward a red fruit flavor profile, such as 19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon South Eastern Australia 2014 (89 points, $13).
As an alternative, try a rich Ribera del Duero backed by fresh acidity, such as Finca Villacreces Ribera del Duero Pruno 2015 (90 points, $20).
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
Active cooking time: 20 to 25 minutes
Total time: 3 hours, 40 minutes
Approximate food costs: $30
1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other oven-safe pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Working in batches, lightly brown the vegetables on all sides. Transfer the vegetables to another platter or bowl and set aside. Browning the vegetables will add extra caramelized flavor later on.
3. Add more oil to the pot if needed, then add the chuck roast to the pot and brown meat well on all sides. Transfer to another plate. Deglaze the pot with a little bit of the wine, scraping any brown bits. Return the meat to the pot.
4. Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, the remainder of the wine, and enough stock to come about one-half to two-thirds of the way up the side of the roast. Season with additional salt and pepper. Heat until the liquid comes to a boil, then cover with a lid and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook for 2 hours.
5. Add the vegetables to the pot. Add additional stock, if needed, so that the liquid comes at least half way up the vegetables. Return the pot to the oven, leaving it partially uncovered to allow the liquid to reduce. Cook for another hour or until the vegetables and beef are fork-tender. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed, with salt and pepper.
6. Discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Slice beef against the grain and serve in bowls with the vegetables and liquid spooned on top. Serves 6 to 8.