boeuf à la mode {ffwd}

Pot Roast Dinner #1

True confessions. Up until six months ago, I had never eaten pot roast. When I was growing up, my mom cooked a lot of beef because my dad wouldn’t eat chicken. Her dish for home cooking comfort was brisket. This was my sister Jane’s favorite, and she always requested it for her birthday or other occasions when she got to pick the meal. Me, I didn’t love it. But that’s about brisket. I’ll get back to pot roast.

In April, we had dinner at my friend Lauren’s. She made her family’s version. I think it was her grandmother’s recipe. She even had a special roasting pan just for this recipe. It was delicious, so moist and tender. It made me wonder why it was never part of my own mother’s repertoire. So I finally ate pot roast!

Still, I had never cooked pot roast. When this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was selected, boeuf à la mode (aka the great pot roast), I knew the time had come.

Dorie’s pot roast involved several steps, but nothing complicated. First of all, you need to plan ahead. The roast and vegetables needs marinate overnight in a bottle of hearty fruity red wine (I chose Merlot). The next day, the roast gets seared, the wine gets reduced, plus, the vegetables get sautéed, and the wine is supplemented with beef broth, anchovies, and tomato paste for a boost of umami in the sauce. Everything goes into a Dutch oven and baked for several hours.

Pot Roasted Beef

This is one of those recipes where I wish technology supported Smell-o-rama. While the pot roast cooked, the house smelled amazing. That same “comfort food” aroma even greeted me for a day or two after the pot roast had cooked.

Because the pot roast benefits from a rest, I cooked this in the morning and let it rest for the day before serving it for dinner. I served my first home-cooked pot roast with the fall’s first batch of mashed potatoes and some sautéed broccoli rabe.

Unfortunately, I think I used the wrong cut of meat again. The recipe gave rump roast as an option. We’re still working our way through the quarter of a cow we purchased a while back, so I was able to pull a rump roast from my Mary Poppins freezer (that’s for you, Rose).

Rump Roast from Sammy

In the end, even though it seemed fork tender when I pulled it out of the oven, it was dry and a little tough when it came time to serve. The pot roast smelled so appealing and the sauce was so delicious that we were extra disappointed by the texture of the meat. I’m wondering whether a chuck or something else from the front of the cow would have worked out better. I won’t write off this recipe completely. I’m going to ask my friend Lauren which cut of meat she used for her pot roast. I’m thinking that’s the secret to move this into the “loved it” category.

To see whether the other Doristas’ pot roasts were great, check their links here. We don’t post the recipes, but you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.


Posted on 11 October 2013, in Beef, French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Hmm that’s too bad – I did like the taste of this, just found it fussy. You should try it again sometime though – very tasty!

  2. Tracy O'Connell

    Chuck is the typical go-to for pot roast. I’m impressed that you’ve purchased meat measured by the quarter cow. :-)

  3. I don’t remember anything in the recipe about resting the meat. I served it immediately. I think yours just might have dried out.

  4. i went back and looked at the recipe. she did say something about serving cold or reheating it in the sauce. I just don’t see this working with this type of meat. It just dries out?

  5. Sorry this didn’t work out for you.
    I usually use a chuck when I make a pot roast (and look for one with nice fat layers going through it to keep things moist)
    I bet the house smelled amazing though.
    Have a great weekend!

  6. Wow! A quarter of a cow! Real country style! Sorry that the beef was dry but it was a recipe to repeat!

  7. I found it interesting how many girls have never had pot roast. My mom made it quite often. It just seemed so common to me.
    The store I bought my meat from didn’t have a lot of cuts available, so I bought a rump roast. Chuck will usually fall apart and be very moist. My rump roast was delicious and everyone loved it. However….I cooked it a long time, and it still was not as moist as I thought it should be, and it didn’t fall apart when cut. Sorry, this was your first experience with pot roast…give it another try with chuck. It is worth the time! I’m just glad I had lots of gravy!
    Hope you’re enjoying your weekend, Betsy!

  8. Hi Betsy, I feel your pain. It is painstaking work (meaning many steps) with the tantalizing aromas wafting through the house to end up with a dry and tough cut of meat. Just by chance, a good friend and cook who is not a FFWD member cooked this recipe several days before I did. She called me, not knowing it was this week’s recipe, and was very distraught. Her pot roast was okay but nothing like she remembered as a kid or even in the past. She followed Dorie’s recipe to the word. Both being farm girls (she was raised on a ranch and is a Vet), we talked “meat” for two hours on the phone, long distance. Today’s meat is not as fatty as we had as kids and even young adults. Grass fed as opposed to corn fed makes a BIG difference. You just do not get the same result. Knowing her experience, I marinated mine longer than directed and I braised it for a much longer time (as Kathy suggested). My result was tasty and good and it fell apart as I sliced it ( as a good pot roast should, in my opinion). Was it as good as my Mom’s? No but that just may be “me” and childhood memories. And, a tad bit dry. I think today’s pot roasts should be made in slow cookers/crock pots all day long…….

  9. I used a piece of round steak and it worked out well. I must have missed the part when
    Dorie said to rest it for a day, but then I’m not good a reading directions. Have a great

  10. We used Chuck Roast, Betsy. Your meat may have been too lean, but you are SO right about the smell! My stomach was growling by the time dinner came out of the oven. I’m glad you haven’t given up on the recipe – it’s impressive to serve to company.

  11. The eye round I bought is very lean. Even though I scaled back and did a 2lb roast, I left it to cook for the whole three hours. That was the biggest takeaway from when I made it for the first time a few months back. Were the leftovers any better?

    I agree with Mary that slow-cookers and crockpots are probably the way to go with this recipe.

  12. Your roast looks great. Too bad the texture of the meat didn’t live up to your expectations. I generally use a chuck roast for a dish like this, which is what I did this time. I came out really tender and moist. Maybe try that next time.

  13. Helyn Benjamin

    Hi. It was so good to see you this weekend. You and Howard look great and Bella is as beautiful as always. Glad the ride back was uneventful. Our trip back was easy. Now time to pack not so much fun. Love xxxxx

    Sent from my iPad

  14. I always use a chuck roast…and it has to have lots of marbling, much as I hate to buy a fatty cut :/ I’m so glad you discovered you like pot roast…it’s such good comfort food! Hope you had a wonderful weekend.

  15. I am with you on this being the first pot roast I made and also in wondering about the cut of meat. When Dorie gave us the 3 or so options in the recipe I thought I was safe but instead it added to my confusion at the meat counter. I was “this close” to calling Nana to ask for advice :) Instead I picked eye round that was the more expensive cut and very lean. That said, I later wondered if I should not have picked the cheaper one that had more fat and would keep it moist. Next time – chuck. And calling Nana. Your photo is amazing and I too wish I had the smell-a-vision…

  16. Hi Betsy – I think I used Chuck, or it might even have been Shoulder for London Broil. I also am a fan of letting it “settle” – sometimes I will cook it the day before serving, let it come to room temperature, then store in the fridge. The next day it goes on the stove or in the oven for an hour or two, and is twice as delicious. Can’t wait to try your recipe!!

  17. I’ve been disappointed by rump roast too. Definitely try this with chuck! We have done a quarter beef a couple of times – it’s fun but work to eat it all. I just found a local grass-fed beef subscription plan that we’re going to try instead of getting all that beef at once!

  18. just cook it a bit longer, maybe another hour or two – the tougher cuts require more time to get to that fork-tender stage ! :) this has happened to me before too… and it is disappointing when its not what you are expecting and promised in a recipe… try it again! :)

    haha… Mary Poppins freezer… LOL :) I try hard not to let mine get that way but what the heck…

  19. I felt it was a little too much work for the end result. It was tasty, and smelled great during the cooking process, but wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. (I did however screw up calculating timing and ended up marinating for 3 days because of that). One of my favorite pot roast recipes is super simple and I’m thinking of making it again to compare.

    Sorry yours was not as moist after all that work!

  20. When the apocalypse comes, I want to be at your house:-)

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