classic pot roast with sweet potato parsnip mash

Being raised by a single parent meant that my sister and I shared in a lot of the household responsibilities.

classic pot roast with sweet potato parsnip mash | Brooklyn Homemaker

It was a different time, we lived in a safe neighborhood, and my grandma lived next door. When we’d get home from school mom would still be at work and we’d have the house to ourselves. Every day we’d be met at the door with a long list of chores taped to the newel post at the foot of the stairs. The list changed daily and was usually pretty substantial, at least long enough to keep us out of trouble until mom got home. Chores didn’t just include vacuuming or washing the dishes either, we were in charge of serious cleaning jobs like vacuuming out heating vents and scrubbing the bathroom tile surround.

At the time, I don’t think it would have been humanly possible (if you consider pre-teens human) for us to hate our chores any more than we did, but looking back on it I’m incredibly grateful. After living with countless roommates through college and until meeting Russell, I now realize that beyond keeping a tidy house, mom was also teaching us valuable life skills that many of my friends and neighbors weren’t learning. I know all sorts of things about not living like a slob that many of my peers don’t, like how to wash dishes and actually get them clean. I can remember the specific moment in college when I realized I no longer wanted to fight with my roommate about who’s turn it was to do the dishes, because whenever she did them I’d end up wanting to wash them again anyway.

classic pot roast with sweet potato parsnip mash | Brooklyn Homemaker

Another item that was usually on the list was making dinner. Working later in the day meant mom wouldn’t always have time to get dinner on the table after she got home, so she taught me a few simple recipes I could make on my own. Cooking dinner was one of the chores that I actually enjoyed doing and as time went on I started teaching myself new dishes all the time.

Pot roast was one of my old standbys, but back then I didn’t really know the “rules” when it came to braising and roasting, so to be honest my roasts weren’t very good. At the time I don’t think I even realized it, and mom never complained, but I hold myself to much higher standards nowadays. I was probably using the wrong cuts of meat, or cooking them at too high a temperature too quickly. I may have even been undercooking them, or at least not cooking them long enough to melt the collagen and make them tender. Either way, they were often as rubbery as shoe leather and flavored with little more than dried onion flakes, so as I got older I decided I didn’t really like pot roast.

classic pot roast with sweet potato parsnip mash | Brooklyn Homemaker

Unfortunately I was a vegetarian in college, so even though I took several culinary courses, at the time I didn’t really feel the need to pay much attention during the meat classes.

If I could turn back time…
If I could find a way…

classic pot roast with sweet potato parsnip mash | Brooklyn Homemaker

It was only a few years ago that I finally decided to give pot roast another go around, and that’s when I looked to the internet to show me the way. I tried a few recipes that came out okay; certainly better than what I made when I was 12, but not really good enough to make me want to bookmark any of them to make again.

Then, one day, I discovered the Cook’s Illustrated pot roast recipe.

Game-changing. Mind-blowing. Life-altering.
Etc.

classic pot roast with sweet potato parsnip mash | Brooklyn Homemaker

Seriously. Their method makes, hands down, the best pot roast I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.

It is a little more work than some of the other recipes I’ve tried, but it is WELL worth it. It’s important to find the right cut of meat, and to speed up the collagen melting you’ll need to do some butchering of your own. You’ll also need to tie the meat up with cooking twine so it doesn’t fall apart in the pot, and to promote even cooking you have to flip it half way through cooking. Then the sauce for the meat is made by pureeing the vegetables from the roasting pan with broth and red wine for texture and flavor. This makes it a bit more involved than the set-it-and-forget-it style recipes prominent on Pinterest, but you guys, I swear. You’ll never want to make pot roast any other way.

classic pot roast with sweet potato parsnip mash | Brooklyn Homemaker

Because I don’t know how to leave well enough alone, I did go ahead and make a few changes to their recipe to make it my own. The cooking method is exactly the same though, and produces the same mouthwatering, fork tender, practically falling apart results. Beyond the traditional red wine, the sauce benefits from a bit of acid and the original recipe calls for balsamic vinegar to be added at the end. Instead, I added apple cider (and a bit of chopped apple) to the cooking liquid. I thought this could be a fun seasonal twist and would add a subtle sweetness. It really works and makes this roast the perfect dish for welcoming fall weather.

Instead of roasting large chunks of potatoes and carrots to serve with the roast, I decided that I wanted to serve it over a bed of mashed sweet potatoes and parsnips. I think the slight sweetness and bright color pairs perfectly with the subtle apple flavor in the sauce.

classic pot roast with sweet potato parsnip mash | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know I already said this, but hello fall flavors. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect dish to celebrate the change of seasons. A word of warning though, the house will smell unbelievable for up to four hours and your mouth will be watering constantly.

The flavor of this meat is just so…. meaty, and you won’t believe how tender it comes out. No knife required.
The pureed veggies in the sauce add a great rich and roasty flavor, and gives the sauce a nice thickness without having to make a roux for gravy.
Adding parsnips to the mashed sweet potatoes really helps balance their sweetness and adds a depth of flavor. Taking the time to brown the butter gives them an extra richness, and helps them feel well paired with the roasted meat.

Go make this.
Now.

classic pot roast with sweet potato parsnip mash | Brooklyn Homemaker

Classic Pot Roast with Sweet Potato Parsnip Mash

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

3 1/2- to 4-pound boneless beef chuck-eye roast
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium (or 1 large) onions, halved and sliced thin (about 2 cups)
1 large carrot, chopped medium (about 1 cup)
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped medium (about 3/4 cup)
2 celery ribs, chopped medium (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 firm tart apple (I used Braeburn), peeled cored and chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or crushed (about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup beef broth, plus more for sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine, plus another 1/4 cup for sauce
1/2 cup fresh apple cider
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 large sprig plus 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley for garnish, if desired

Sweet Potato Parsnip Mash:
3/4 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 tablespoons butter
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Pull your chuck roast into two pieces at the natural seam, and trim off any large layers and knobs of fat. Sprinkle both pieces of meat with 1 tablespoon salt (1½ teaspoons if using table salt), place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Adjust your oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Heat butter in heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add carrot, parsnip, celery, and apple; and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Stir in 1 cup of broth, ½ cup wine, apple cider, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme sprig; and bring to simmer.

Pat the roasts dry with paper towels and generously season on all sides with pepper. Use kitchen twine to tie each piece of meat into a loaf shape for even cooking and prevent it from falling apart.

Nestle the meat on top of the vegetables. Cover pot with a tight fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Cook beef for three hours, flipping halfway through. Check and, if necessary, continue cooking until beef is completely tender and sharp knife easily slips in and out, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. This extra time is best used to start your sweet potato parsnip mash, recipe below.

Once fully cooked, transfer roasts to cutting board and loosely tent with foil. Strain liquid through mesh strainer into a large liquid measuring cup. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig. Transfer cooked vegetables to blender jar. Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then skim any fat off surface. Add beef broth as necessary to bring liquid amount to 3 cups. Place liquid in blender with vegetables and blend until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer sauce to medium saucepan, add remaining wine and chopped thyme, and bring to simmer over medium heat. If sauce is too thick it can be thinned out with more beef stock. If too thin let it reduce to the desired consistency. Once reduced taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

While sauce heats and reduces, remove twine from roast and slice against grain into ½-inch-thick slices.

Sweet Potato Parsnip Mash: 
Place sweet potatoes and parsnips in a large stockpot, cover with salted water, and bring to a boil. The parsnips can take longer to cook than the sweet potatoes, so it’s important that they’re in smaller pieces. Once the pot comes to a boil reduce the heat to medium and cook until vegetables are fork tender. This should take about 15 or 20 minutes, but can vary depending on the size of the pieces.

Once tender, transfer sweet potatoes and parsnips to a colander to drain. In the same pot heat the butter over medium heat just until it begins to brown. Stir occasionally and watch it closely or it can burn. Remove from heat. You can either push the drained sweet potatoes and parsnips through a potato ricer or food mill and add them back into the pot, or add them to the pot first and mash them with a potato masher. Stir in milk, a little at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Add nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Serve the meat on top of the mash and top with sauce and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

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35 comments

  1. Perfect fall meal it looks and sounds fantastic both the pot roast and mash. I will have to try this method, the meat looks perfectly tender and that sauce is amazing. Intersting that the meat is not seared before adding to the braising liquid. Cooks Illustrated has great recipes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it was pretty weird too, but they mention in their notes that they tried it both ways and the meat cooks so long that lots of browning and flavor building happens anyway and there wasn’t enough difference at the end to bother with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My sister and I were in exactly the same boat, Tux. We took turns cooking and cleaning and by far my favorite days were the ones when I was in charge of dinner. I must confess that since I was only nine when my parents divorced, we ate a lot of Hamburger and Tuna Helper in the first couple of years. Your pot roast looks magnificent atop that bed of mash!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We ate a TON of those Knorr packs of noodles in like creamy sauces (I think they’re called “pasta sides” but we called them special noodles), and lots of boxed macaroni and cheese too. Thanks Stacy! This recipe is definitely a big improvement over those formative years!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t think of the last time I had a pot roast, your dish looks absolutely delicious, and I love the apple addition. My sister and I did the cleaning and cooking too, and there was never anything fancy. Hamburger helper? Cooks Illustrated is an amazing reference. Everything that I’ve ever tried has been amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cook’s Illustrated is the only food magazine I get any more. I used to subscribe to all of them. ALL of them. But I’ve found that most of them are more about trendy foods, glossy pictures, and lots of ads (SO MANY ADS) rather than tried and true classic recipes. I love the fact that they put so much thought and testing into getting a recipe just right, and then tell you about how and why they got to the end result.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great story for this post and I love the Cher lyrics thrown in there too.
    Look at the mise en place! You sold me on the Cooks Illustrated method of this pot roast and will give it a try. The apple cider vinegar and cut apple is a nice touch as well.
    Beautiful photos Tux!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome story – I can so relate (pretending to be Cinderella when it was my turn to scrub the floors on my hands and knees). It’s amazing how much we appreciate those life lessons once out on our own. As always, you’re recipes are the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh. My. GAWD.

    I love this post for so many reasons!

    One, I love hearing about your childhood. It makes your blog so much more personal and makes me feel like I know you that much better :)

    Two, because you preface the sentence “I was a vegetarian in college” with the word “unfortunately” hahah

    Three, because these photos are KILLIN IT! Seriously, the lighting, the styling – amaze balls!

    And four, because I love pot roast so much. SO MUCH. Can you come over and make this for me? As much as I love it, I’ve never been able to make a really tender, mouth watering version. We always just throw it in a crock pot with some onion soup packets per my aunt’s classic recipe (I know, I know!) but I think I’m ready to step up my game. Not gunna lie though, I’m a little intimidated by the “butchery at home” business. Like, where does one even get cooking twine? I feel like I’m already failing lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you thank you!!!! I really do think of it as unfortunate that I was a vegetarian in college! I spent three months in France doing my internship as a waiter at a restaurant in Burgundy and didn’t eat meat! So many amazing dishes I missed out on! What was I thinking?!?!?!?

      Anyways- I’ve definitely used the onion soup packet method plenty of times myself, but you really should try this recipe! The butchery part really isn’t as scary as you think I promise! Chuck roasts have a sort of natural “seam” down the middle. You basically just need to pull it apart with your hands and pull off any large pockets of fat. Then tie it up with twine- which I found at my local grocery store.

      :)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. OMG I made this last night! SO good! You were right about the sauce–totally worth the extra work and the apples/cider definitely give it a sweet depth. I, being like you, had to change one thing–instead of browning the butter to give depth to the mash I actually roasted the sweets and parsnips. The fuller flavor from the roasting and the bit of salt and pepper that I used during that meant that I didn’t have to season the mash at all.

    Thank you for this amazing “Sunday” recipe! This will definitely be an every few weekends comfort food for us from now on! Also, beautifully written entry.

    Thank you again.

    Liked by 1 person

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