I’ll tell you up front: the secret ingredient in this pot roast is cola. I am not normally an advocate of cola drinks, which are high in sugar. On the other hand, like many ingredients that are unhealthy in excess, there is a time and place to use cola for its deep caramel flavor — and this pot roast is one of them.
Despite what you may think, the pot roast is not overly sweet — in fact, it is not the sweetness you notice at all, but the comforting warm meat flavor. The cola is balanced out by the savory meat and vegetables, spices and subtle acidity of tomato sauce.
Make this pot roast on a Sunday (or when you are around to let it simmer for two and a half-hours)-- and you will a second meal later in the week, or even later, out of the freezer. It freezes beautifully and keeps well in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
Secret Ingredient Pot Roast
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (4-pound) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium onions)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups unsalted beef broth
1 1/2 cups cola
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1. Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the meat on all sides and pat it on to help it adhere.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 6-quart deep pot over medium heat. Add the roast and brown on all sides (this will take about 12-14 minutes); transfer to a plate.
3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the onion, oregano, and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add the broth, cola and tomato paste; cover and bring to a boil. Add the roast, cover the pot, reduced the heat to medium-low and simmer 1 hour. Turn the roast over and simmer another 30 minutes. Stir in the vegetables so they are submerged in the liquid. Cover, return to a gentle simmer, and cook until the roast and vegetables are tender, about 1 hour longer. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and the vegetables to a serving platter and tent both with foil.
4. Skim and discard any fat from the surface of the braising liquid. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil. Dissolve the cornstarch in 3 tablespoons cold water; whisk into the boiling braising liquid and continue cooking until thickened, about 1 minute.
5. Slice the roast across the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices and arrange on a serving platter with the vegetables around it. Spoon some of the gravy over the meat and vegetables and serve the remaining sauce on the side.
MAKES 8 SERVINGS