French Braised Pot Roast: Fly Away to France from the Comfort of Your Own Kitchen

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Early last month, I got a fierce craving for pot roast.

Vertical image of a white bowl with mashed potatoes and a vegetable meat stew, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

It might have been the rainy and cool weather, or the fact that I hadn’t eaten red meat in a couple of weeks. Or it might have been since I already had a couple of grass-fed chuck roasts in my freezer, purchased from a local farm, just begging to be turned into something delicious.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably made pot roast before. My go-to version is usually made in a Crock-Pot and surrounded by carrots and potatoes.

Or at least, it was. That’s how I used to make it, time after time.

Pot roast is one of those classic American dishes – like mashed potatoes and apple pie – that we have all had and made and probably prefer a certain way.

As for me, I like my pot roast to be very tender, flavorful, and fragrant enough to make it feel as if my kitchen has been transformed into a different place while I’m cooking.

Vertical top-down image of a white plate with mashed potatoes and a stew next to a rectangular plate with the same stew on a blue patterned towel.

Maybe that place used to be Mom’s kitchen, or my grandmother’s dining room. I still have a soft spot for those places.

But with this dish, I imagine traveling to Provence, the French countryside, with endless fields of lavender out my window and rolling hills of green… savoring every forkful of delicious slow-cooked meals, enjoyed over long afternoons and evenings filled with conversation and endless glasses of wine.

That ease that we feel with a go-to dish, I think it’s kind of similar to what happens with our morning routines. While you might wake up at a set time, have breakfast, and read the paper, I like to read in bed before pulling out my laptop, even before I take a shower, and get a few work things done. I do this just about every day.

Revisiting these morning routines day after day reproduces a pattern that feels normal, certain behaviors that bring comfort and a sense of order, providing the fuel you need to get your day going.

But sometimes you need something a little different. And when you find it, that can rapidly become your new normal.

Early last month, I was testing a new pot roast recipe, which eventually became the recipe I’m sharing with you today.

Vertical image of a white plate with a meat and vegetable stew in front of mashed potatoes on a blue patterned towel.

It came to me as a combination of elements of several recipes I’d seen online, a mixture of new ideas and old. And it turned out to be one of the most moist, tender, mahogany brown from the chuck and juicy tomatoes, and wonderfully fragrant pieces of beef I’d ever had.

It was comforting, delicious, something I craved, and something that, before I knew it, took on the feeling of a new normal, an old friend, a standby.

Maybe you’ll understand what I mean when I say it quickly became my morning routine of pot roasts.

Since then, I’ve made it four more times. Really.

So, you know how it is the first time you try something: you’re a little unsure of how it will go.

You’re checking the beef every hour, adjusting the temperature when you think it might help, and adding ingredients partway through.

In this case, all those changes worked so well, and I was so happy with the results of my tinkering, I decided I would always do things that way from then on, every time thereafter.

This includes flipping the meat and adding mushrooms after an hour of cooking, raising the temperature an hour after that, then lowering it again. Maybe that sounds like a lot. It is a bit of a time commitment.

But the results are so worth it in the end.

Vertical image of a white plate with mashed potatoes and a stew next to a rectangular plate with the same stew on a blue patterned towel.

If you’re less paranoid than I admit I am, you could probably do some other combination of 225 and 325˚F for a total of 3-4 hours – just keep your eye on the oven, and be sure to check in every now and then.

It may feel indulgent, but I’m sticking with my routine. Trust me when I say that it is tried and true, and it may be quirky, but it works.

The only other note I’d add is on the grass-fed meat: I know some of you will wince at the higher price tag and just use regular chuck roast, and that’s fine. But I will say that my mom tried that with her own version after tasting mine, and it just wasn’t the same.

Grass-fed meat is noticeably more tender, not to mention that it’s higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And at least where I get mine, animal rights and environmental friendliness are on the table too.

It’s not exactly a new documentary at this point (it was released in 2009), but while we’re on the subject, have you seen Food, Inc. yet? It will change your perspective on meat forever.

Food, Inc., available on Amazon

Another trick I learned from my mom: if you make a pot roast the day before you want to serve it, if you stick it in the fridge after it’s cooked, all the fat will rise to the top of the pan.

Throw on a pair of disposable gloves and it’s so easy to remove all the separated fat, or even cut away whatever fat is on the meat before reheating it, if you like.

If you’re not concerned about cutting some of the fat out of the finished dish, no worries. Reheat and stir, and you’ll find that everything’s blended together nicely again.

Print
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Horizontal mage of a plate full of stewed meat and vegetables in front of a bowl of mashed potatoes.

French Braised Pot Roast


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Embrace the French countryside lifestyle and slow cook a decadent braised pot roast, the perfect comfort food for a cozy night at home.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 grass-fed chuck roast (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 medium white onions, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 68 button mushrooms, stems removed, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh)
  • 1 24-ounce can whole tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 225˚F. Pat meat dry with paper towels. Season meat on all sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or some other oven-safe pot with a cover. Once hot, add seasoned roast and sear each side well, until browned, about 4-5 minutes per side. Once the meat is fully browned, transfer it from the pan to a platter.
  3. Add chopped celery, onion, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, and thyme to the pan. Place roast on top of the vegetables.
  4. Pour 1/2 cup red wine and tomatoes on top. Cover and roast in the oven for 1 hour.
  5. Flip roast over. Replace the lid and continue to roast for 1 hour.
  6. Raise oven temperature to 325˚F. Continue to roast, for 1 hour.
  7. If meat is tender and falling apart after three hours in the oven, it’s done. The internal temperature should read 160˚F on a meat thermometer. Otherwise, you can reduce the oven temperature to 225˚F and give it another hour or so, checking with the thermometer for doneness every 20 minutes or so.
  • Category: Beef
  • Method: Braising
  • Cuisine: Main Course

Keywords: beef, chuck roast, braising, French, red wine

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Chop Vegetables, Mince Garlic, And Measure Remaining Ingredients

Remove the strings and chop 2 stalks of celery. You should have about 3/4 cup total.

Peel and dice 1 1/2 medium white onions. You should end up with 1 1/2 cups total, and absolutely no tears!

Scrub the mushrooms gently. Remove the stems and discard them. Chop the mushrooms. You should end up with 1 cup total.

Peel and mince 2 cloves of garlic.

Horizontal image of prepped mushrooms, onions, celery, and tomatoes next to raw meat and seasonings.

If you are using fresh herbs, remove the stems and chop enough as listed on the ingredients list.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients.

For the red wine, I recommend a Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon. And since you only need 1/2 cup for this recipe, the rest of that bottle should serve you well while the roast is doing its thing in the oven.

Preheat your oven to 225˚F, and rearrange the racks if you need to, so the pan will fit in the middle of the oven with the lid on top.

Step 2 – Sear Meat

Pat the meat dry on all sides with paper towels. Season the meat all over with salt and pepper.

Add the oil to a large Dutch oven. I used a 6-quart Dutch oven to make this, but you can use one that holds 5 to 7 quarts for this recipe.

Horizontal image of a large piece of seared meat in a pot.

Place it on the stove over medium-high heat.

Once it’s hot, add the seasoned meat and sear it on each side until browned. This will take about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Once the meat is browned, remove it from the Dutch oven and transfer it to a serving platter or plate.

Step 3 – Roast

Horizontal image of a pot with prepped vegetables underneath a large piece of seared meat.

Add the celery, onion, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, and thyme to the bottom of the pan. Place the browned roast back in the pan, on top of the vegetables. Pour the red wine and canned tomatoes on top.

Horizontal image of chopped tomatoes over a large piece of meat and vegetables in a pot.

Cover and place in the oven. Roast for one hour.

Step 4 – Flip and Continue Roasting

Remove from the oven, remove the lid, and flip the roast over. Replace the lid, and return to the oven for one hour.

Horizontal image of a pot with a stewed mix of tomatoes, vegetables, and meat.

Raise the oven temperature to 325˚F. Roast for one more hour.

Step 5 – Check and Finish

Check the roast to see if it is cooked through. The meat should be tender and it should fall apart easily. A meat thermometer should register 160˚F when inserted in the center.

If the roast is not finished, reduce the oven temperature to 225˚F. Cook for another hour, checking every 20 minutes, until done. This is usually something I have to do, and it can take up to an hour depending on your oven.

Horizontal mage of a plate full of stewed meat and vegetables in front of a bowl of mashed potatoes.

Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. You can transfer it to a cutting board if you like, and place the vegetables and sauce in a serving dish, or keep them in the pot for serving.

I like to cut up the meat and return it to the sauce, and serve portions of vegetables, pot roast, and sauce from the same serving dish, or straight out of the Dutch oven that I used to cook everything in.

How Can I Use Up the Leftovers?

The magic about braised pot roast is that the leftovers are always absolutely tasty. You can simply reheat them and serve them over mashed potatoes, but there are plenty of other fun ways to use up that slow braised meat.

I absolutely love using the meat in sandwiches. Toast some crusty bread or a sliced baguette, and stuff it with meat, some vegetables, and mayonnaise or butter.

Horizontal mage of a bowl filled with a side of mashed potatoes and stewed meat and veggies.

It’s such a yummy way to devour the leftovers, and this has become my new favorite leftover obsession (another pleasantly comforting routine).

For more meaty main dishes to inspire you, here are some comfort food favorites from Foodal:

What’s your favorite side dish to serve with pot roast? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to come back to rate the recipe after you make it at home.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on December 16, 2010. Last updated on November 8, 2020. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

28 thoughts on “French Braised Pot Roast: Fly Away to France from the Comfort of Your Own Kitchen”

  1. what a perfect perfect PERFECT dish to make now that the weather is so bitterly cold out.
    and can i say how impressed i am that you’re partaking in mushroom consuming? i remember the time when you hadn’t ever had it before…

    Reply
  2. I’ve never made pot roast. Man, I’ve been saying “never made” about a lot of things lately. This needs to change! I was just talking to a friend today about my fear of large cuts of meat. This winter may be the time to tackle and conquer. Your pot roast looks delicious and so perfect right now! My stomach is grumbling.

    Reply
  3. Does anyone have anyone have any good ideas on a source for finding local, grass-fed beef? After seeing Food, Inc. myself, I am trying to find “the right stuff.”

    Reply
  4. I agree about “Food, Inc” – since watching that movie (and reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,”) I’ve made a conscious effort to purchase my meat at my local farmers’ market or through my buying club that sources local farms and producers whenever possible. I often think that these more expensive food purchases now will benefit my wallet later in reduced health care costs. Thanks for posting this recipe – will have to try it out soon 🙂

    Reply
  5. YUM. minus the mushrooms. I totally agree on grass-fed beef. I am anxiously awaiting ours – “my” Amish farmer has connections!

    Reply
  6. I’ve never had a good pot roast, which is sad b/c it is such a staple in American cuisine. I’m thinking maybe it’s time to make my own!

    Reply
  7. This post honestly makes me want to drive out to a farm tomorrow and procure some grass-fed beef myself. Actually, Joel Salatin (that awesome Virginian farmer featured in Food Inc.) is just a couple hours away from where I’m living now; I’m really psyched to make a trip out there sometime soon and see how amazing his food tastes!

    Reply
  8. What a beautiful blog, I’m sorry that I’ve missed it until now. We happen to have a pot roast in the freezer so Sunday dinner will be my test driving your recipe. As for grass-fed beef being better, it depends on the specific farm, breed, etc., but on balance I also find it to have more flavor than commodity beef.

    BTW, if you’re willing to share, I’d love to know the name of the farm/ranch/butcher you use as I’m often asked if I know where the good stuff is 🙂

    Reply
  9. I love pot roast too and make a skinny Italian flavored one. What a wonderful and healthy idea to use grass feed beef. Thanks for sharing …

    Reply
  10. Wow, thanks for all the flippin and temperature changing tips. I didn’t know that grass-fed ones will come out more tender. And, mushrooms are heaven to me!!!! Thanks as always Shan. 🙂

    Reply
  11. What a lovely pot roast for the holidays! I need to start buying more grass fed beef. The flavour is just unparalleled. Happy holidays!

    Reply
  12. Leslie, Oh, I hope you do!

    Maddie, Whaaat? That is crazy! I’m jealous!

    Carrie, I hope Sunday’s dinner was a hit! And btw I got my beef from the same people I buy my milk from, found through realmilk.com. They rarely have it, so I was excited! Usually it’s just Whole Foods.

    Nancy, You’re welcome!

    Dana, It is! : )

    Retro, You’re welcome!

    LimeCake, I agree. Happy holidays to you too!

    Reply
  13. I will never be the same after Food, Inc. I’m so glad I came across this post today because my mom makes a good roast and I have recently been thinking about wanting to follow in her foot steps.

    Reply
  14. This is a wonderful recipe! I’ve included it, fully credited, within the Pocatello Co-op’s monthly newsletter. Hopefully your website will receive a modest viewer boost as a result. Your writing is lovely and your pictures are beautiful. Thank You!

    Reply
  15. 1/2 cup liquid doesn’t seem a lot for a 2lb joint of beef. Surely it will have evaporated within the first couple of hours?

    Reply

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