Feature

Recipe: ‘Lazy’ pot roast for the contemporary gourmand

A dish that was once as popular as the Hula-hoop could be poised for a comeback.

“The lazy cook’s pot roast” has traditionally involved rubbing a chuck roast with onion soup mix, then cooking the roast in foil, said the editors at America’s Test Kitchen in The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook. That dish—once as big as the Hula-hoop—fell out of fashion years ago, but we think it could be poised for a comeback, given a few tweaks.

To attain some of the ease of the 1950s method but avoid the artificial taste, we created a spice rub starting with salt, onion powder, and garlic powder, then ditched the monosodium glutamate in favor of soy sauce. A touch of brown sugar adds sweetness and depth, while “a surprise ingredient, a little instant espresso powder, provides toasty complexity.”

Finally, we divide the roast in half—so that there’s more of the spice rub on each slice of roast.

Recipe of the weekChuck roast in foil

For the rub:

  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp each light brown sugar and salt
  • 1 tsp each garlic powder, instant espresso, dried thyme, and ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp celery seeds

For the roast:

  • One 4 lb boneless beef chuck eye roast, pulled apart at seams into two halves, fat trimmed to ¼ inch
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 lb small red potatoes, quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1½ inch pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300. Combine all rub ingredients in a small bowl.

Using kitchen twine, tie the roast halves at 1-inch intervals, or have a butcher do this for you. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Place two 30-by-18-inch sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil perpendicular to each other inside a large roasting pan. Place onions, potatoes, carrots, and bay leaves in center of foil and drizzle with soy sauce. Set roasts on top of the vegetables. Rub roasts all over with the rub. Fold opposite corners of the foil toward each other and crimp edges tightly to seal. Transfer pan to the oven and cook until meat is completely tender, about 4½ hours.

Remove roasts from the foil pouch and place them on a carving board. Tent meat with foil and let rest for 20 minutes. Remove onions and bay leaves. Using a slotted spoon, place carrots and potatoes on a serving platter. Strain the contents of the roasting pan through a fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator. Let the liquid settle, then pour defatted pan juices into a serving bowl.

Remove kitchen twine from the roasts. Slice the roasts thin, against the grain, and arrange the slices on the platter with the vegetables. Pour ½ cup of the pan juices over the meat and reserve the remaining juices to be passed around at the table. Serves 4 to 6.

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