Pot roast beef was one of the first meals I ever knew how to cook; I don’t remember learning it, so I must have absorbed it subconsciously in my mother’s kitchen. An electric frying pan with vented cover really comes into its own with this sort of dish: it offers a steady, easy to control, moderate heat; plenty of surface space first to brown the meat and then to array the vegetables around it; depth below to contain liquids and height above to accommodate a funny shaped cut of meat (joint, in British English, with or without bones) or vegetables that only want steaming; truly easy access to check on progress or add ingredients that don’t need as much cooking time as everything else. Plus it is very economical to use. When I moved across the pond, I couldn’t bring my electric frying pan because of the voltage differences, and the house I moved into had a tiny kitchen, so I couldn’t realistically replace it any time soon. I was bereft.
I got used to not having an electric frying pan, but it has taken me a ridiculously long time to work out how to consistently replicate the pot roasts of my younger days with alternative equipment. This post shares the results of that long effort. As comfort food, there are certain ingredients that ‘have’ to be included (potato, carrot, onion), but a change of pace can be achieved by swapping in or adding seasonal varieties of vegetables. I just love how the meat and vegetables blend their flavours while cooking, yet each thing retains its own character. The combination below suits late winter/early spring, when stored onions may have been all used up and leeks are coming to the end of their season. I’ve also included celeriac, just for a local, seasonal twist. And the bonus? My husband says it’s one of the best Sunday dinners he’s had. Ever.
Serves 3 or 4, with leftover meat.
|2 pounds||Beef joint suitable for moist cooking. I used a ‘topside’.|
|1/4 cup||Red wine (either leftover from a previous meal or from the bottle you plan to serve with the meal)|
|Handful||Mushrooms, cut in half or smaller|
|3||Medium (red) potatoes, quartered|
|Piece||Celeriac; not more than the amount of potatoes, cut into two inch chunks|
|2||Large carrots cut into long chunks|
|1 cup||Beef stock|
|1||Late season leek, cut into large slices|
- Set oven to preheat to 350F/180C/gas mark 4. Carry on working while it warms up.
- Prepare veg as described above.
- Brown all sides of meat in a large non-stick frying pan with a little oil.
- Transfer to large oven-safe casserole, together with any packaging juices. Pour wine over.
- Place casserole in oven, whether it’s ready or not, while pre-cooking veg.
- Toss mushrooms in residual fat in frying pan.
- Add potatoes, carrots, celeriac and stock. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring the veggies around a bit so that everything has a chance to brown a little and is well coated in liquid.
- Turn off the heat and stir in leeks just before transferring the whole lot to join the meat in the casserole dish.
- Cover well. If there is no lid to the casserole, use tin foil. You want to keep as much steam in as possible.
- Cook for approximately an hour from this point for fully cooked beef.
- Turn off oven. Remove meat to allow to rest. Pour juice from casserole back into frying pan. Return veg to cooling oven to keep hot while you make gravy.
- Carve and serve.