I make pot roast with a chuck roast and beef stock. And like the chicken soup thread, it's so much easier with bought beef stock. I like to use peanut oil to start with because you need high heat to sear the chuck roast at the beginning.
Julia Child says you can't brown meat unless it's DRY. I now pat the roast with thick paper towels to get all of the meat juices off. This works! She was right. I use a flour mixture with pepper, thyme, nutmeg, and a dash of cinnamon. Coat the roast in the flour and brown for about 4 minutes a side in the hot peanut oil. (Which can take the high heat.)
You can also brown carrots and onion at this point. They add to the overall flavor of the dish.
After about 10 minutes of browning, I add beef stock to cover, and small diced carrot, celery, and onion. Half onion, 1/4 celery and 1/4 carrot. This is what the French call a Mirepoix. (pronounced "mere pwa.") It is the basis for countless French recipes, soups, and sauces. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirepoix_%28cuisine%29
This Mirepoix should melt into the stock by the end of the cooking. It doesn't all "melt", the onion usually does, but it really give the stock more flavor. Some professional chefs will remove the Mirepoix and discard it. I just leave it in.
I add 1 TBS onion powder, 1 tsp nutmeg, dash of cinnamon, dash of ground cloves, and 1 tsp thyme plus some more ground pepper. Bring to a boil, and then down to a simmer. A healthy dollop of red wine wouldn't hurt either.
After cooking for at least 3 hours, 4 to 5 hours is better, I add the real vegetables for serving. Carrot, potato, a little more onion, and some celery. These I cut into sizable chunks for eating. After the veggies are done, you can serve.
Just remember to keep the stock topped up so it covers the roast.
AND - don't add salt until the very end. Salt will condense as the stock evaporates and can ruin everything.
Goes great with crusty French Bread.
And dat's how I do it!
Seems to me like the real secret to good cooking is just leaving food alone enough that the natural flavors all come out. To do that you need to understand cooking times, methods, and how spices effect flavor. Usually, simple is best.
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