Yankee pot roast is the perfect one-dish family dinner. It screams comfort, it infuses the house with a delicious aroma and is an ideal segue into fall.
Kids love it because the meat is tender, adults love the complexity of the flavors and, most importantly, the cook loves it because you just throw everything in the pot and leave it alone for 4 hours. This can also be done in a slow cooker, but the instructions below are for an old-school oven braise.
Topping the finished pot roast with chopped parsley gives a burst of freshness to this hearty dish and adds nice visual dash of bright green when you serve it.
Since the vegetables are all contained in the pot, you don’t need much in the way of sides — a loaf of crusty bread and a bottle of dry red wine complete this meal beautifully.
If you wish for something else on the table, the simplest green salad does the trick. The version below, which features a make-in-the-bowl lemony dressing, delivers a refreshingly welcome contrast to the richness of the pot roast.
As for dessert, you can go one of two ways — stick with the theme of homey-cozy and serve something like apple pie or brownies, or go with something light and contrasting like sorbet, sliced melon or mango, or a spiced fruit compote.
Yankee Pot Roast
“Why is it called Yankee?” I wondered. Some research revealed that the cooking technique was brought to New England by French immigrants in the form of etouffe and was adapted to local ingredients.
The name may be a nod to the stereotypical frugality and ingenuity of New Englanders: The recipe takes an inexpensive cut of meat and patiently braises it to tender deliciousness. The long winters of the region necessitated warming comfort foods, and cooking the dish slowly over several hours served the additional purpose of heating up the kitchen.
The inclusion of vegetables is also said to be a tradition of the New England, or Yankee, version — perhaps as a clever way to stretch the meat and cook the meal with maximum efficiency and minimum effort.
2 tablespoons cooking oil
4- to 5-pound chuck roast
Salt and pepper to season meat
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large onion, sliced
4 carrots cut in large chunks
3 parsnips cut in large chunks
1 small turnip, cut in large chunks
4 stalks celery cut in large chunks
3 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 whole bay leaf
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Heat your oven to 275 degrees. Generously sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil, and sear the beef on all sides. Remove it from the pan, and add the garlic and onions, scraping up any browned bits.
When the onions and garlic are fragrant, place the beef, along with any drippings, back in the pan. Add the vegetables, broth, wine, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Cover and place it in the oven.
Roast for about 4 hours until the meat is falling apart. Remove the bay leaf.
Sprinkle parsley over the pot roast just before serving.
Boston Lettuce with Lemon Dressing
Since we are serving a Yankee pot roast with roots in New England, Boston lettuce seems to be the right choice for the salad.
This simple salad is all about showcasing the ingredients. Buy the crispest lettuce you can find and use top-quality olive oil.
If you can’t find Boston or bibb, any varietal (except iceberg) is fine here — romaine, red leaf, oak leaf, arugula, etc. There is so much going on in the main course, this simple citrusy salad is the ideal complement.
I prefer this just as it is, but you can add some tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts or fresh herbs if you wish.
The other benefit of this salad is the lack of fuss. You can assemble it right in the salad bowl, dressing and all.
2 heads Boston or bibb lettuce, rinsed, spun and torn into bite-sized pieces
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
A couple of pinches of kosher salt
Generous grinding of fresh cracked pepper
Place the lettuce in a salad bowl. Spritz it with lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss and serve immediately.