Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pot Roast with Mushroom Onion Gravy

When I wake up in the morning, I like to check the news to see what happened in the world while I slept.  This morning I woke up to several headlines right at the top (above war, politics, and celebrity scandals, so you know it was considered Very Important News) that looked like this:

"Red Meat Linked to Premature Death, Research shows"

So, I started clicking through the numerous articles linked to that main headline in my news reader. The second headline I clicked was a little more descriptive than the original:

"A Hotdog a Day Raises Risk of Dying, Harvard Study Finds"

That article went on to be more specific; it isn't just red meat, it's processed meat products (specifically hot dogs, bacon and hamburgers.  Hamburgers are "processed food"? Well, I guess they are if you happen to be eating one that has been approved by the USDA to feed our nation's school children). And then, of course, there was the third one I read:

"Red Meat Does Not Raise Risk of Cancer, Heart Disease"

Want to bet that a ton of people will be swearing off red meat now that The Study has been published (again)?  Kind of like eggs - remember that?  For a while, it was the cholesterol in eggs that was going to cinch the noose.  But then, it wasn't.  And full fat milk.  Oh, and butter.  Wait, I mean margarine.  No, it's butter.  Actually, I forget which one we should be eating now.  Hmm.  Perhaps I should quickly consult The Study so I can figure out just exactly what I should eat for breakfast so I can make it to dinner without dying.

I would like to explain something to you if you didn't already know it (but my readers are pretty darn smart, so I'm guessing you've already gathered this).  As it pertains to food related illnesses, gluttony, laziness, and greed are what will kill you.  Eventually.  Sound harsh?  It shouldn't; it's a fact, like it or not.  Those diseases are the result of a collective effort from every human involved in our food supply, from Them right on down to Us. It's not the food. Food fuels life; without it, none of us would even exist.  Human choices are what leads to illness and untimely death.

And by food, I mean real food.  Hot dogs are not real food, at least, not the ones you buy in the giant processed meat section at the grocery store.  Somehow hamburgers have made an appearance on the "processed food" list.  Why?  Because our all-knowing and trust-worthy USDA has approved ammonia treated connective tissue (aka "pink slime") to be used in the production of hamburger.  It's not the food.

Choices, folks.  It's all about choices.  If you choose to eat hot dogs, connective tissue, ammonia, sodas with high fructose corn syrup and squishy Wonder bread, there's a pretty good chance you're going to get sick.  Is it the food, then?  Nope, it's the choice to eat it.

So, in light of the fact that red meat is going to kill us all, I am going to share with you a favorite Road To an Early Death meal my oddly healthy family thoroughly enjoys.  And I'm even going to add some beer to it to really hammer in the first nail. (Oh wait, I think beer is healthy now.  I'm not sure.)

The truth is that in our home, we really don't eat a lot of beef, but that's not because of health concerns or because I believe the latest "study".  Mostly, it's due to trying to maintain a budget while finding the best possible sources for our meat based proteins, and the fact that the cook (Yours Truly) prefers plants to animals.  My husband and kids love pot roast and the occasional hamburger, though, so I buy from one of two trusted local organic farmers so I can know just exactly where it came from and where it's been.

I'm a big fan of braising meats with beer (or wine).  I like it because it adds an enormous amount of flavor for a small amount of money.  Since the roast cooks for hours and ultimately creates its own broth, there seems no real need to add more of the same in the form of the braising liquid, therefore beer makes an inexpensive, highly flavorful ingredient.  In this particular recipe, use a regular old run of the mill beer, and try to avoid dark or even amber lagers because they tend to have a feisty flavor that overwhelms the mushrooms (but taste amazing in something like Beer Braised Pot Roast).

It is A-okay to use more than one roast if you can't find one large one - that's usually how I end up making this.  We like to use the leftover roast mixed with the gravy for warm sandwiches, but leftovers also freeze well for a future dinner.

Pot Roast with Mushroom Onion Gravy
approximately 10-12 servings

  • 2 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb mushrooms (cremini or button), roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 - 5 lbs chuck roast 
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 12 oz bottle beer
  • 2 Tbs non-GMO cornstarch, such as Rumford
  • 1/4 c  water

Preheat oven to 325F.

Season both sides of the chuck roast generously with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with thyme.

Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Sear each side of the roast until nicely browned; about 5 minutes per side.  Remove to a plate or platter and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbs oil in the same dutch oven.  Saute the mushrooms for about 3 minutes.

Add in the onions and garlic, and saute for about 5 minutes more, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the onions are tender.

Push the mushroom and onions out of the way and arrange the roast in the dutch oven.  Arrange the mushrooms and onions over and around the roast.

Pour the beer over all.

Cover and bake in the preheated oven for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until meat is tender enough to fall apart.

Remove the roast to a serving platter and keep warm (I put mine into an oven proof pan, cover it with foil, and put it back in the warm oven with the door open a crack).

To make the gravy, place the dutch oven and mushroom broth on a burner set to medium high.  Gauge the amount of liquid; if you think you have more than 2 1/2 cups of broth, add another teaspoon of cornstarch to the recommended amount in the recipe. Mix together the cornstarch and water until the cornstarch is dissolved.  Bring the broth to a simmer, whisk in the cornstarch mixture, and stir until thickened (about 3-4 minutes).

Serve the pot roast with the gravy.  The gravy is fantastic over mashed potatoes, too.


  1. Looks like a wonderful comfort meal :)

  2. Kiri is right, there is nothing more comforting than pot roast! Looks delicious!

  3. Looks great. For a bit of light relief you might enjoy this cartoon about the food pyramid. http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2012/04/food-pyramid.html


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