The weather in Chicago has been so mild lately that it almost makes me miss winter, just to be able to cook some of my favorite comfort foods, like pot roast. Beef pot roast tastes best when the weather outside is mean enough to force your breath out in tiny puffs of white. That’s when my body craves those small chunks of meat that melt on the tongue, little bursts of intense flavor, followed by the comfort of carrots and potatoes. With a bowl of pot roast to warm my chilled hands, everything is alright in the world.
Growing up, beef stew was Boeuf Bourguignon made with a nice bottle of red. Cheap wine, even cooked, remains cheap wine. But lately, I’ve been kicking the wine to the side and replacing it with a secret weapon ingredient: porcini mushroom broth. Half of my kids are deeply repulsed by mushrooms, and they have no idea that this is what gives the pot roast that lip smacking flavor, thanks to the umami punch mushrooms provide.
The second time I did this recipe, I left the mushrooms in, and almost was outed. My kids seem to have a sixth sense to ferret out mushrooms. Now I just use the broth, and reserve the actual mushrooms for make your own pizza or stir fry night, when everyone can customize to their liking.
Make this dish in your crock pot, or make it in your instapot. Either works. The crockpot will take 4-5 hours. The instapot will take 1 hour. The results will be delicious either way.
- 1½ pounds of beef stew meat, preferably chuck (it's the most flavorful)
- 8 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch coins
- 6 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 onion
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup of dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 cups of hot water
- ¾ cup of good fruity red wine, like a nice Zinfandel, Shiraz or Pinot Noir
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- salt and pepper to your liking
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- First brown your meat and onions. If you're using an instapot or crockpot with a sear setting, melt your butter and add the onions. Saute them for 4 minutes until they begin to turn clear and soft. Add the meat and brown on all sides. If you have just a regular crockpot, do this in large sauce pan and you will transfer everything to your crockpot later.
- While the meat browns, put the dried porcini mushroom in a measuring cup. Add 2 cups of hot water and let it steep.
- Once the meat is brown, dust with flour, giving it all a good stirring to spread the flour throughout.
- Add the carrots and potatoes now.
- Add the tomato paste. Stir again well.
- Add the red wine, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom.
- Strain the mushroom broth into a container, set the mushrooms aside for another recipe if your family is not a fan. Or, cut the mushrooms up and throw them in.
- Pour in the mushroom broth and stir some more. Toss in the bay leaf.
- If you have been sautéing all of this in a saucepan to then transfer to a crockpot, this is the moment to transfer. If you've been sautéing in your instapot or your multi-function crockpot, you are good to proceed.
- While still on saute, bring the mixture to a boil.
- Now is the time to set the pot roast for its long term cook. If you're in the instapot, turn off the sear, close the lid, set the valve to sealing, and do manual 1 hour. If you're in your multi-function or regular crockpot, cook the pot roast in high for 4-5 hours.
- Season with salt and pepper to your liking, remove the bay leaf, and enjoy!
- Like all stew dishes, this is even better then next day, when it's had time to rest.