Sunday Pot Roast (a.k.a. Beast in a Pot)

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Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Before I start, I have to say: This is not the most photogenic dish. That aside, it’s hard to argue with a good, homemade pot roast—also known as “Beast in a Pot” here at The Mouse House.

Pot roast is stick-to-your-ribs, winter home cooking at its coziest. It’s also an economical way to feed a crowd when you’re on a budget. All you need is a big hunk of beef, an even bigger pot, a handful of ingredients, and a little patience.

This particular recipe gets its rich, deep flavor from the combination of red wine, tomato puree, and beef broth. The sauce is infused with fresh rosemary, thyme, and bay—not to mention a hefty amount of garlic. Fresh fennel adds spicy, licorice undertones.

Pot roast is inexpensive. It’s also not fast.

Pot roasting is basically braising—that magical technique of cooking food slowly in liquid in a tightly covered pot—which transforms a tough hunk of meat into a sublimely tender, melt-in-your-mouth meal.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Low and slow cooking breaks down all the fibrous, connective tissue in the meat—those gristly ribbons that you’d never in your life want to chew on—leaving you with meat that practically falls apart when you wave a fork over it.

This is a take on Ina Garten’s recipe, Pot Roast for Company. (If you don’t know Ina Garten, you should. She’s the fabulous Barefoot Contessa.)

What kind of beef is best for pot roast?

Good question. These days, most butcher’s cases are packed with all manners of meat marked “roast.”

Ina Garten’s original recipe is dead on (of course!), and calls for chuck roast—the King of Flavor where beef is concerned. It comes from the shoulder section of the cow. Because this area gets a lot of exercise, it’s very flavorful but also very tough.


Top and bottom round roasts (which come from the hindquarters of the animal), are also good choices for pot roast. Brisket works well, too, though it’s a little flat for slicing.

Basically, buy a roast that looks good to you (bright red flesh, clean white fat) and is reasonably priced. You shouldn’t pay a lot for a hunk of pot roast meat. That’s part of the beauty of the dish.

I didn’t like the look of the chuck at the market, so I opted for this boneless top round instead.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Most roasts will come pre-tied with butcher’s string. This isn’t essential, but helps them keep their nice, plump shape as they cook (which makes for easier slicing later). If yours isn’t tied, tie a few loops around your beast with kitchen twine. Or skip it entirely. It’ll be just as delicious.

Beast in a Pot, with Fresh Herbs

For this recipe, I used herbs from my kitchen container garden, which I recently moved indoors before the first real frost of the season.

The Hungry Mouse's Kitchen Garden

My kitchen container garden, shortly after planting this summer

So far, my plants seem to be really happy indoors, in our sunny library.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

I also used bay leaves that my dear friend Mrs. Toast brought me from her two huge bay trees the last time she visited. Fresh bay leaves have a wonderful flavor. If you can’t find them, though, you can definitely substitute dried leaves.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Sunday Pot Roast

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Company Pot Roast

1 (4 to 5-pound) boneless top round or beef chuck roast, tied
Kosher salt
Olive oil
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups onions, chopped (about 2 onions)
2 cups celery, chopped (about 4 stalks)
2 cups fennel bulb, chopped
7 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups red wine
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
1 cup beef stock
4 – 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 large bay leaf (fresh if you can find it, dried if you can’t)
1 Tbls. butter

Serves 6-8

Prep the veggies for the pot roast

Before you start on the meat, get all the veggies (carrots, onions, celery, fennel) chopped. For the fennel, chop up the white bulb and stalks. Save the green frond-y parts for another use.

Put them in a large bowl and set it aside.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Gather your fresh rosemary and thyme together…

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

And tie them into a bundle with kitchen twine. This makes them easier to fish out and remove at the end.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Set the herbs aside and grab your roast from the fridge.

Sear the meat

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Drizzle a little olive oil into a large, heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot. (I used my Big Red Pot, a 7-quart enameled cast-iron dutch oven that I’ve had for years.) Set it on the stove over high heat for a minute.

Sprinkle the meat on all sides with kosher salt. When the oil is hot, put the meat in the pot.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Cook for a few minutes on high heat (throw open a window, there’s going to be some smoke), until the bottom has a nice brown crust, like this:

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Repeat this browning process on all sides, until the meat is wearing a lovely brown jacket.

Transfer the meat from the pot to a large plate for a minute while you deal with the veggies.

Assemble the sauce for the pot roast

Start by cooking the vegetables. Dump your chopped veggies (carrot, onion, and fennel) into the same pot that you used to brown the meat.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Saute over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, until they’ve started to soften and brown a little. Stir occasionally, scraping at the bottom of the pot as you go to loosen any brown bits. (As they cook, the veggies will let off juice which will help deglaze the pan.)

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

After about 15 minutes, pour in the wine.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

And the beef stock.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Add the tomato puree to the pot. Stir to combine everything well.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the herb bundle, bay leaf, and chopped garlic. Stir to combine.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

And finally, add the browned meat back to the pot.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Spoon a little of the sauce over the meat.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Cover with a tightly fitting lid. Pop the pot into your pre-heated 325 degree oven. Cook for about 2 1/2 hours.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Carve and serve the beast!

Yank the pot out of the oven after about 2 1/2 hours. Give the meat a test. It should be so tender that it comes apart when you pull at an edge with a fork.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

To serve, transfer the meat from the pot to a platter or large plate. Cut into thick slices, across the grain. (I don’t have a good picture here, but take a peek at my Deli-Style Roast Beef recipe for a decent explanation of how the grain runs in a piece of meat.)

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse

Fish out your bundle of herbs and the bay leaf. Pitch them (they’ve given up all their flavor).

Toss the butter into the pot and swirl it around. For a thicker sauce, puree half the sauce in a blender and return it to the pot, stirring to incorporate it.

Ladle the sauce over the sliced meat. I like to serve this pot roast with thick hunks of garlic bread.

Sunday Pot Roast at The Hungry Mouse


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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. Pot roast is one of my favorite comfort foods - this recipe looks and sounds delicious! If we're lucky enough to have leftovers, we shred it for tacos and breakfast burritos.
  2. OMG this looks so good. Always use rump and cook on top of the stove, but this is worth a try!! Thank you, now that the weather is getting colder.......
  3. well that sure is meaty and very tasty! I love pot roast too! I need to try your recipe out since I've been looking for a simple pot roast recipe that's rich in flavor and herbs.
  4. Wow! I am drooling at the thought of a big plate of that pot roast with a nice Cotes du Rhone or a Tempranillo, or even a blend with a lot of Nebbiolo in it. Maybe a glass (or 2) of each!
  5. Getting ready to make a pot roast for Sunday dinner. Since I'm being lazy, I'll leave the veggies in bigger pieces, so I'm sure mine won't be as pretty as yours. Roasting a head of garlic, too, to spread on bread. Thanks for the inspiration!
  6. Fixed it this Sunday for a family dinner! HUGE HIT! Made a ton of food and the leftovers were even better the next day. I did all the searing and cooking the night before and then refrigerated the sauce/veggies separately from the meat. Then I assembled the pot roast and put it in the oven before leaving for church. House smelled divine when I came home. Served it with mashed taters, bread and salad. Perfect meal for a cold rainy Sunday.
    • Yay! So glad you liked it! Such a good recipe--feeds a crowd totally on the cheap. What a fabulous idea to do all the prep the day before. :D Thanks so much! +Jessie
  7. WOW JESSIE, made this pot roast for dinner today. Just the best pot roast I have ever tasted! This is no small thing, as I am 62 years old, and have experienced way too many pot roasts to count ! Bravo !
  8. Hi. I know i have complimented your love and patience and guidance and most importantly your direction and photographs - belissimo? belissima? regardless you're a G-d send! My question is this: do you know what the time frame would be for a slow cooker? or if you'd have any other changes for a slow cooker? Just wondering if you had the info. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Susan S.
  9. Hi! I am just your biggest fan. The time and effort and love and devotion that you put into your recipes is unequaled! I wonder if you can speculate how long to do this in a slow cooker (crockpot) on low. If there would be any changes to the recipe itself? Please let me know at your convenience. Thank you. Susan
  10. Our family is on a very tight budget. We are retired (both disabled) and are raising our 7 year old granddaughter. We all love pot roast. It is very inexpensive to make and is so-o-o-o good and comforting. It also goes a long way (especially for company-just throw in a few more taters and carrots). We make a great beef/vegetable stew with leftovers--just add a pone of cornbread for a great, hot, comforting meal!
  11. Found this recipe yesterday, on your website and I am so thrilled! I have been looking for a beef pot roast like my father-in-law used to make for a very long time! He was italian and his pot roast melted in your mouth. So I have all the ingredients needed and will be making this today (can't wait till Sunday ... Lol).
  12. Made this recipe today for the first time - Deee-lish..... Not the same as my grandmothers recipe that I have been making for forty some years so was a little unsure of how I would like it. Would definitely make again as it was a hit with the whole family. Thanks for sharing.
  13. I just found this recipe and it looks totally amazing and fairly easy to do which is good because I've never cooked a roast before. Anyway, what can I use in place of the tomato or can it be left out all together? Thanks