Classics: Yankee Pot Roast

Learning how to make pot roast is one of the more satisfying culinary endeavors you can undertake. There’s something immensely reassuring about taking big, cheap, tough cuts of meat, and, whether through slowly smoking or in this case, through braising, turning them into the moistest, most flavorful, most tender roasts ever to fall apart under the lightest pressure from a dinner fork.

Admittedly, this is Fall weather fare; I got the idea during last week’s peculiar cool snap, and didn’t actually get it in the oven until today, which seems to be unseasonably warm and humid. No matter. It will be cold here in Maine soon enough, and this is the kind of meal you will need to keep you warm until the next Summer begins…sometime in mid-July of next year, I suspect.

Yankee Pot Roast
Serves 6-8; Adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 3-4 pound beef chuck roast
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons (about 3 branches) fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound small white potatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch of small carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups pearl onions, trimmed and peeled

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 325. In a large Dutch oven, brown bacon over medium heat, stirring ocassionally, until bacon begins to crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to drain on paper towels.

2. Pat beef dry, season liberally with salt and pepper, and add beef to pot. Increase heat and turn using tongs to brown meat in bacon fat, on all sides. Transfer beef to a plate.

3. Reduce heat to medium, add 2 tablespoons butter to pan, and add yellow onion. Cook, stirring ocassionally, until onions begin to turn translucent, about 6 minutes.

4. Add garlic and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add wine and water and cook, scraping brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, about 1 minute.

5. Add tomatoes (and juice) and check seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Return beef to pot and bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover, transfer to oven, and cook until beef is almost tender, about three hours.

6. Remove pot from oven, and add potatoes, carrots, celery, pearl onions, and cooked bacon around roast. Cover, return to oven, and cook until vegetables are tender, about an hour more. Remove beef from pot and let rest 15 minutes, then slice against the grain. Arrange on platter with cooked vegetables, and drizzle with braising liquid.

Our “Classics” series tackles some of our favorite dishes from Maine’s rich culinary tradition. You can think of them as “traditional” dishes, or more accurately, things you might have had for hot lunch in the fourth grade, had you attended St. George Elementary. To read more from this series, click here.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the taco-centric blog "Eat More Tacos," and the junk food-centric "Spork & Barrel." His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

32 Comments

  1. MMmmmm, pot roast.

    My other half doesn’t eat beef, and I can’t eat 4lbs of it all myself. Halving this recipe probably wouldn’t work, and I haven’t had pot roast (Yankee or otherwise) since my mother passed, 15-odd years ago.

    What to do… what to do…

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    1. I’ll tell you what: it’s not an unmanageable task. I cooked a three pound roast, which yielded about 7 good slices. One was lost to picking, after it came out of the oven and was resting. You can knock out two more slices having actual meals. The rest goes into a roast beef hash, and boom! No more pot roast.

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  2. I am always looking for new things to do with the less costly cuts of meats (often, if cooked right, they taste so much better than the expensive cuts!) so thank you for this recipe, it looks dvine!

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  3. I’ve heard this once at a friend’s, really liked it but never got the chance to know how it was cooked. This post has really helped me. The dish is such a delicacy. Nice photos… so mouth watering.

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  4. I want to try to make this for Christmas. I have 3lb roasts and want to cook 2 of them. Any advice for me? Would it be okay to cook both in same Dutch oven? Think it would add cook time? Thanks so much!

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  5. Well – this has been on my wife’s to do list for a year or two – your pictures are pretty enticing… She finally made it this weekend while I was out shoveling snow – perfect Pot Roast weather if you ask me… Man – it’s funny – when she started cooking I was a bit concerned – it didn’t smell very good… She had bought a bigger piece of meat (which didn’t seem so cheap) so it took like six hours from start to finish… Well worth the wait – best darn Pot Roast I’ve ever eaten… Bravo zulu ! Thanks for posting – a new personal favorite… LOL – I have leftovers tonight…

    Regards,
    Scott

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  6. When I was growing up, my Mother cooked pot roast every Sunday, so it would be ready when we came home from church, this was before crock pots, but we did get tired of it and finally asked for chicken.

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  7. I’ve been eyeballing this recipient for a week now. It’s not really the time of year for a pot roast but who cares I had the craving, anyways ended up getting a rump roast instead of chuck roast( I think chuck would have been more tender, most of it would have been covered the whole time cooking). I wasn’t able to find pearl onions so just quartered a couple onions. At first I thought the bacon was Gona be a little to much, I love bacon but usually don’t cook with it. The sauce was enhanced a lot by the bacon so I wouldn’t omit it even though the bits of bacon really didn’t seem to go with the beef( no big deal , next time I won’t eat them). The meat came out tender but like I said I used a rump roast so it was above the juice more than what a chuck roast would have been. Usually when I try recipies that I find online I have to add more seasonings or ajust them bigtime, this came out great, and have a lot left, tomorrow gonna have leftovers but Gona turn that leftover sauce into one hell of a gravy, ( that sauce was awesome) anyways thanks for a great recipie , I will cook this many more times

    Dandridge, Tn

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