Pot Roast Carbonnade – Beer Braised Pot Roast

Pot Roast done perfectly, tender, silky, a rich gravy.  Is there anything better? Here’s one that’s full of flavor, a play off of the Flemish Stew with beer, Beouf Carbonnade: a bit sweet, a bit tangy from the beer, and simply dripping with caramelized onions. If that sounds too fancy, just call it Beer Braised Pot Roast. Does a roast with any other name still smell as good? Oh, that’s Rose? Silly me…

Pot Roast Carbonnade - meal 1
Pot Roast Carbonnade – meal 1

I grew up, as I’m sure many of us did, with Pot Roast made by sprinkling a packet of Lipton’s Onion Soup over the top, adding a can of tomatoes and chucking it in the oven. I loved it then, and to tell ya the truth, I still do – but this pot roast? My goodness. One taste and you’ll know exactly what it is you’ve been missing all those years.

There’s a bit more work and time invested in this pot roast – the onions need to be cooked to perfection before the roast goes in the oven. They’re the key to building the color & the flavor and can’t be rushed. My method, in parentheses in the instructions, takes a bit more time than standard browning, but is so hands off I don’t begrudge the extra few minutes. Hey, I love to cook, but being tied to the stove isn’t my idea of a great time! A stir now and then while the onions bubble away doesn’t phase me.

Once the onions are done, it’s a breeze. The beer, herbs and flavorings are tossed in, the roast nestled in the pot, and once it’s tossed in the oven, there’s nothing to do. Go about your business.  Enjoy the tantalizing aroma wafting from the oven. Think about a few sides, perhaps noodles, mashed potatoes (always my vote!) and something green. A simple salad and/or green beans? Because pot roast always shrinks so much, you’ll want a few sides to fill out the plate.

A good-sized chuck roast (my favorite cut for a braised meal like this because of its marvelous marbling) is going to set you back a few bucks, so look for them on sale. Here, they run $3.49 to $3.99 a pound on sale. Sometimes I’ll find them with included in a coupon along with a bag of vegetables – if that’s the case, you’ll want to pull out your calculator and make sure the total price of the deal is a good one.

A roast like this seems huge until it’s cooked, but a roast at my house means I’ll be stretching it, hopefully, for one more meal. I used to bring the platter to the table and let the family go for it, hoping for a few left overs (after all, it’s said to allow two servings a pound for a boneless roast.)

Now, I use my divide and conquer method, which means I’ll plate up dinner in the kitchen and squirrel away enough for a few sandwiches or a soup, later – in this case, Beef Barley Soup. The family never knows any better and it helps the budget (and waistlines) stay in balance.

A Belgium beer is marvelous (but costly) in this – but even a plain ol’ American beer works here, too. A bit different, perhaps, but every bit as good!

Beef Barley Soup - meal 2
Beef Barley Soup – meal 2

Pot Roast Carbonnade

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 3 pound beef chuck roast
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 tablespoon butter or bacon drippings, divided
  • 3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1 Belgian-style ale, an Abbey Ale is great, almost any beer is good
  • 1 cup beef stock, approximate
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard (optional)
  • salt and pepper as desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon red or black currant or blackberry jam or jelly

Season beef, both sides, with salt and pepper. Place flour on a plate and dredge meat, both sides, in flour.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter or drippings in a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef and sear, turning, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside.

Add remaining butter or drippings, onions and teaspoon of brown sugar, cook until soft and well browned, about 30 minutes, stirring now and then. (Alternatively, add to pot, cover, cook 30 minutes, stirring after 15. Remove lid; at this point the onions should be very soft and starting to brown. Continue to cook, stirring every few minutes for about an additional 15 minutes, total.)

While onions cook, preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Add half the beer and cook, scraping bottom of pan, until slightly reduced, about three to four minutes.

Return beef to pot with remaining beer, vinegar, thyme, tarragon, bay leaf, mustard and salt and pepper. Add beef stock as needed to bring the level of liquid 3/4’s of the way up the roast. Bring to a boil. Cover pot and place in oven until very tender (nearly falling apart) when pierced with a fork, three to three and a half hours.

Watch your timing and liquid level, as this can vary wildly with different ovens, different pans and a different size or thickness of the roast. If fork can be inserted easily and twisted, the pot roast is done to perfection.

Place pot roast on a platter to rest for 10 minutes, stir jelly into the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve sauce with the roast.

from the kitchen of http://www.frugalhausfrau.com

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time/money and managing this recipe.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area isPocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.

Put Your own Spin on it:

  • Many stews like this include bacon or lardons, sautéed until rendered, then removed. The meat and onions are then cooked in the drippings and the bacon or lardons added in to braise.
  • While I like to add a tiny bit of sugar to help caramelize the onions, another option is to add sugar to the stew to balance out the sourness of the beer instead of the jelly.
  • Mustard can be added – I often omit it, but up to two to three tablespoons are used in some recipes for a very robust flavor.
  • Belgium beers add a bit of a bitter, sour note, which is why the sugar is used. If using a tamer beer, watch the amount of sugar or jelly used.
  • Herbs can be used and varied according to taste!

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