My mom dropped by the other day just as I was heaving a massive chuck roast out of the freezer. It was the last package of meat from the last side of beef I bought, and I hadn’t yet decided what to do with it. “You could make that Yankee pot roast I used to do when you were a kid,” she said. And I was all HA HA HA HA HA! Because everybody knows my mother has never in her life made something so boring as a pot roast. If it doesn’t have at least three ingredients you can’t pronounce, then she’s not interested.
But she went on: “Take a jar of horseradish and slather it all over the roast, then throw half a bag of cranberries in the pot,” she said. Hmmm … I may have spoken too soon. That’s JUST weird enough to be true. “When it’s done it’s fantastic and nobody can guess what you actually did to it.”
Although I generally don’t trust her crazy ideas, it turns out there are many variations on horseradish and cranberry pot roast out there. It seems to be a thing. I happened to have a jar of horseradish and a bag of dried cranberries on hand, so I gave it a shot. And you know what? It was freaking fantastic and nobody could guess what I actually did to it.
So here’s a little weekend project for you. It feeds an army, which makes it good for a holiday potluck. The leftovers just get better and better in the fridge and it freezes well. Plus, you can make up any story you like about what you did to it.
Makes 8-10 servings
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 (3-4 pound) chuck roast
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 4 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 (8-ounce) jar prepared horseradish
- 1/2 cup beef stock
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 small potatoes, halved
- Fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Season the roast with salt and pepper, then dust it with flour and brown it on all sides. Add the oil to a 5- to 6-quart flameproof and ovenproof Dutch oven (or other pot) over medium-high heat and brown the meat on all sides.
Remove the meat from the pot and let it sit a few minutes.
If the pot is dry, add a little more oil. Add the onions and carrots and cook until they soften and start to turn a little golden. Scoop the vegetables into a bowl and set it aside.
Add the wine and stir, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Rub the horseradish over every surface of the meat and add it back to the pot.
Add the beef stock, cranberries, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and wine to the pot, cover and cook for 1 hour.
Reduce the heat to 275 degrees. Lift the lid and make sure there’s still some liquid in the bottom of the pot. If there isn’t, add more wine, water or beef stock. Cook two more hours.
Pull the pot out of the oven. Turn the meat over and add the potatoes and the reserved onions and carrots. Cook for another hour to hour and a half, until the vegetables are cooked through.
Remove the meat from the pot. Skim any excess fat from the liquid, then bring it to a simmer and reduce slightly.
Cut the meat into 1/2-inch slices, and return them to pot, nestling them in the sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley.