By Gretchen McKay

What’s for Dinner: Pat’s (Updated) Pot Roast

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Comfort food at its best: Mom's Pot Roast

Pat’s (Updated) Pot Roast

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Culinary historian Michael Twitty hopes to bring a greater awareness of African-American contributions to the development of Southern cuisine during his upcoming “Southern Discomfort Tour” through the Deep South. But the D.C. native also has a deep appreciation for, and love for, the simple comfort foods he grew up on.

“There are things that came down to us through slavery and there are things that we perfected as a family in freedom,” he writes on his blog, “This is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten and it was a mainstay of our Sunday Dinners growing up.”

He’s not exaggerating. Even with overcooked potatoes (I cut them a bit too small), it was one of the most tender and tastiest roasts I’ve ever put on the table, thanks to its rich, fragrant gravy.

Mr. Twitty suggests serving the pot roast with a fresh warm baguette or sweet corn muffins and a dark green, leafy salad. If you’ve got any, shred the leftovers for sandwiches.

  • 3 1/2- to 4- pound beef chuck roast
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil or clear bacon fat
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup of green bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 bouquet garni (herbs tied in a bundle) of fresh basil, thyme, parsley and a bay leaf
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 cups carrots sliced diagonally
  • 4 large russet potatoes, skinned and cut into chunks, or a small bag of baby potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian leaf parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Wash and pat dry roast. Season liberally with kosher salt and coarse ground pepper, covering surface. Heat oil or fat in cast iron skillet and brown roast on all sides. Saute onion, mushroom and green pepper (if using) in pan drippings and place on and around roast in a Dutch oven. Season with bouquet garni.

Add wine and stock. Cook for 90 minutes, checking to see if the meat is getting tender. Cook for another 20 minutes after basting with the juices in the Dutch oven. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook another 35 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest.

Remove roast and vegetables, keeping them separate. Skim all the fat you can from the surface of the remaining stock and discard, along with the herbs. Drain resultant stock into a saucepan, and bring to a simmer.

To make gravy, mix flour and margarine or butter in a small bowl (this is called kneaded butter in Southern cooking). Stir mixture into the pot of simmering stock, and allow to thicken. Add a pinch of kosher salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring until well combined. Sweeten just a little with honey.

To serve: Slice roast into 1-inch-thick slices and place on a ceramic platter surrounded by the onions and carrots. Spoon mushrooms and onions remaining over the meat, and then top off with the gravy. Add the parsley and serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

— Michael Twitty,