Pot Roast

This should properly be called “Pressure Cooker-Assisted Pot Roast” because it is not cooked entirely in that vessel. There are many recipes for pot roast that call for the meat and vegetables to simply be dumped into the pressure cooker but for my taste that leaves the vegetables over done and the meat somewhat flat tasting. So I use the pressure cooker to save some time and energy but bracket its use with more conventional cooking techniques. The result is every bit as good as a roast cooked for hours in the oven but ready an hour or so sooner.

A note on the meat to use: chuck is perhaps the most common cut of beef used for pot roast and is certainly a tasty choice. However it is somewhat fatty. I prefer to look farther aft on the beast and use round. My favorite is eye round because it is very lean and inexpensive. I buy a whole eye of round and trim off the excess fat yielding six to seven pounds of lean meat for around $3 a pound. Then I portion it into steaks, roasts, cubes, and ground beef depending on my fancy and freeze whatever I will not be using within a few days.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 large stalk celery
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots
  • 3 or 4 pounds of eye round
  • Kosher salt
  • Oil
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, mashed, no need to peel
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups beef stock (more or less depending on what the manufacturer of your pressure cooker recommends)
  • Potatoes, carrots, onions, and/or other vegetables to taste
  • Prepared horseradish to serve

Method

First make the mirepoix: coarsely chopped the onions, celery, and carrot then mince in a food processor. You will strain these from the cooking liquid later so they do not need to look good.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season with kosher salt. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high to high heat giving it time to get really hot. Pour in oil to coat the bottom by about ⅛ inch. Just as the oil begins to smoke put in the meat and brown for 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Do not be tempted to rush this process. Deep browning is essential to a rich, beefy flavor.

While you are browning the meat, sauté the mirepoix in a bit of oil in the pressure cooker. When it is softened add the garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper to taste. When the meat is well browned put it atop the vegetables and add the stock. Cook on high (15 psi) for 15 minutes per pound after the cooker comes to pressure.

Preheat oven to 325°. Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions and open the pressure cooker. Remove the meat to large Dutch oven. Strain the cooking liquid into a large bowl or a de-fatting pitcher and let sit for the fat to separate while you prepare the vegetables.  Add the liquid back to the pot with meat and vegetables, place in the oven, covered, and cook until the vegetables are done, about 20 minutes.

Place the meat on a platter and surround with the vegetables. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl or gravy boat—or you can make gravy with it but I think that is gilding the lily, so to speak. Serve with horseradish and perhaps some sour cream.

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