“Sam, the 1950s want their pot roast back” – my husband after eating my old-fashioned pot roast that I made in the Instant Pot.
It’s just that good. A warm, flavorful, comforting meal of beef chuck roast, potatoes, and sweet, buttery carrots with delicious gravy in every bite. I made this pot roast for the first time last year and my husband has raved about it ever since. I could tell that he liked it because he kept going up for more even though he was full.
Yup, it’s just that good.
Although pot roast was never a thing for me growing up, I associate it with Sunday afternoon dinners after church services. Several years ago, when visiting family in Phoenix, my mother-in-law made one for after worship supper that was delicious. The delicious and savory smell greeted us when we came home after socializing with the other congregants. It was a smell that makes me think of a warm and happy home. I wanted to do that for my family.
Despite my desire, I was never good at making pot roast in the oven, old-fashioned or not. I could never get it fall-apart tender and I didn’t have an hour per pound or the patience to spare to get the job done. I tried everything when making it in the oven, resulting in fail, after fail, after fail.
On a number of occasions I have done a great pot roast in the slow cooker, but that involves searing the meat on a separate pan on the stove, then transferring the contents to the slow cooker. In the morning. Before work. With two rambunctious, demanding-my-attention-all-the-time boys that I have to get ready and fed before school lest I want to have the meltdown to end all meltdowns from either or both of them. (Despite that description of them, I love them dearly and can’t picture my life without them.)
My slow cooker pot roast is nothing short of fantastic. I endeavored to convert it into an Instant Pot version, because, why not?
A good pot roast starts with chuck roast. A chuck roast is a cheap cut of meat that’s tough and stringy with all of that fat running through it. Because of this, a chuck roast only becomes tender from low and slow cooking temperatures and long cooking times. So the slow cooker is the only way to get it done, especially if I can’t hack it the oven. Right?
WRONG! The Instant Pot can get you a spoon tender, melt-in-your mouth result just as well – or better – than the traditional methods.
My pot roast recipe which fools people into thinking I spent three hours alone just cooking the thing. Maybe I’m the Hispanic June Cleaver, it’s so good.
Don’t let me sway you away from the slow cooker version of this dish. It certainly has its place. There is something about the smell of delicious meal welcoming you home after a long day’s work. I love that about my slow cooker. My Instant Pot will never replace my slow cooker. But my slow cooker does not do anything fast. It wasn’t build for that.
Now, before I jump in, I need you to be aware of something. In this exact form, this isn’t a weeknight friendly recipe. However, you employ a few shortcuts if you want to have this meal the same day.
For example, you could skip the sauteing of ingredients and just dump and go and be eating in about 1 1/2 hours. And that’s fine. BUT, meals like pot roast, chili, and beans are always better the next day because the flavors have had a chance to meld.
I made this recipe and had it the same evening and it was phenomenal. But the next day, my boss who cannot eat meat due to dietary concerns asked me where I got my lunch. This old-fashioned pot roast recipe upset the balance in the world.
Ever see Once Upon a Time in Mexico (AKA Desperado 2)? There’s this side story about Sheldon Sands, a CIA agent who eats the same pork dish at every Mexican restaurant he ends up at. In one particular scene, he meets with El Mariachi and remarks that the slow cooked pork he’s eating is the best he’s ever had. And because it’s the best he’s ever had, it upsets the balance in the world. In order to reset the balance, he has no choice but to kill the cook.
My pot roast upsets the balance in the world. It is the pot roast of pot roasts, the recipe to end all recipes of this sort. Try it and you won’t be disappointed. Just don’t shoot the chef after you eat it.
For my 1950’s Sunday Pot Roast, read the recipe below.
- 6-quart Instant Pot
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cup
- Ladle to scoop the deliciousness
- Wooden spoon
- Veggie chopper (optional)
- Aluminum foil
- 3-4 pound chuck roast, cut into two even sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dried or ground oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt (cut down to 1 teaspoon if you’re sensitive to sodium)
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (I used bacon grease)
- 2 cups of beef stock
- 2 teaspoons of fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce
- 1 yellow onion
- 3 ribs of celery
- 6 cloves of garlic
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
- a few sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional)
- baby carrots (your choice how much)
- creamer potatoes (your choice how much)
- 4 tablespoons of salted butter, divided
- Au jus seasoning packet (I used Lawry’s)
- Dried parsley for garnish, if desired
It’s a lot of ingredients. But they all work together to produce a delicious pot roast. Trust me when I say it’s all worth it.
- Slice the onion into half-rounds. Set aside.
- Using the veggie chopper or your chef’s knife, dice the celery and garlic. Set aside.
- If using, wash and pat dry the rosemary and thyme sprigs. This is optional, but I have these herbs growing in my garden and I wanted to use them here.
- Mix together your dried seasonings. Do not include the fresh rosemary and thyme here. Reserve those for later.
- Place the potatoes and carrots on separate pieces of aluminum foil. Add salt and pepper to taste and drop in one tablespoon of butter in each. Wrap up the foil and set aside.
- Cut your roast into two or three uniform-sized pieces. You will want each piece to fit in the bottom of your inner liner.
- Season each piece of meat with the dry seasonings. Don’t be stingy with the seasoning here. You should use it all up.
- Push the Saute button and adjust the heat level to more. When the display reads “HOT,” put in the cooking fat and swirl it around the bottom of the pot.
- After about a minute, brown the pieces of meat for about two to three minutes a side. Flip using tongs. Do not disturb the meat while it’s browning and make sure to not crowd the bottom of the pot.
- While the meat is cooking, mix your wet ingredients in a 2-cup measuring cup.
- Once the meat is seared, remove from the pot and set aside on a plate.
- Meanwhile, pour in about a 1/4 cup of liquid mixture and the remaining butter and deglaze the bottom of the pot using your wooden spoon. Make sure to get as many of those browned bits up as possible since this will add depth of flavor to the finished dish and will prevent the pot from displaying a burn notice during the pressure cooking process.
- Saute the onions for a few minutes, then add the celery and garlic. Saute the vegetables until they become translucent. Take care in this step to not burn the garlic.
- Pour in the remaining liquid mixture and mix well. The browned bits will infuse with the liquid.
- Place the roast back into the pot. If you cut it, be sure to nestle the pieces in evenly.
- If using, place the rosemary and thyme on top. of the roast.
- Press the “Cancel/Keep Warm” button to stop the saute function.
- Place the foil packets on top of the roast.
Now, you might be wondering, why put the veggies in now? It’s going to be a long cook time and they’ll turn to mush! True if potatoes and carrots are going straight in to the pot. But something about putting them above the rest of the ingredients and wrapped in foil keeps them from disintegrating. They certainly get cooked, but they don’t fall apart when you stick in a fork.
- Seal and lock the lid. Place the pressure valve to sealing.
- Press the manual or pressure cook button (I used the meat button. Note that there is no difference here) and using the +/- buttons, set the time to 60 minutes.
- After the cooking cycle is over, let the pot naturally pressure release for about 15 minutes. Carefully release any remaining pressure by moving the pressure valve to venting.
- Carefully remove the lid.
- Remove the foil packets and set aside.
- Remove and dispose the herb sprigs.
- Remove the roast and set aside on a plate. The roast may fall apart at this point, so take care to not have hot liquid splashing on you!
- Press the “Keep Warm/Cancel” button again.
- Press the “Saute” button and adjust the heat to more.
- Pour in the au jus seasoning and stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate. Allow the mixture to bubble for a couple of minutes to thicken to the desired consistency.
- Slice meat.
- Serve with the thickened sauce, potatoes, and carrots.
Bread hack: wrap in plastic and freeze your bread in medium sized hunks so you can heat up when the mood strikes! Warm in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes and slice to desired sized pieces. Crusty bread is great for sopping up that delicious sauce!
Let me know how you like your pot roast and when you usually have it. There isn’t one “right” way. I usually know it’s a hit when my husband goes for a second serving on a full stomach! I hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as we did!
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Buen provecho! – Sami B.