Betty Wason's Basic Pot Roast

By • May 7, 2013 • 26 Comments

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Author Notes: Betty Wason's recipe follows the familiar pared-down approach of other pot roasts, but adds one more cathartic step: you beat flour, salt, and pepper into the meat with the side of a plate, which seems to create a thicker crust and a more lustrous gravy in the end. My mom, Susan Miglore, has adapted Wason's recipe for the slow-cooker -- something that Betty Wason didn't have in 1963, but surely would have approved. By removing it from the realm of the stove and oven, you're that much freer to have pot roast at any time of year, whenever you need it. Adapted slightly from House & Garden magazine (January, 1963) via Epicurious.Genius Recipes

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 pounds rump of beef (or other roast suitable for slow-cooking, such as chuck)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fat or oil
  • 2 onions, sliced, or 10 to 12 small onions, peeled
  • 1 to 2 carrots, scraped and cubed
  • Herbs and seasonings, as desired (we used bay leaf and thyme)
  • 1 cup liquid (wine, bouillon, tomatoes, vegetable broth, etc.)
  • Other vegetables, as desired (we used baby red potatoes)
  1. Season the flour with the salt and pepper and pound the mixture into the meat with the edge of a plate.
  2. Brown meat on all sides in the hot fat or oil. Add the onions, cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes. Add the carrots, herbs, seasonings and liquid. Cover tightly and simmer 3 1/2 - 5 hours, until meat is fork tender. You may do this on the stovetop or transfer to a 350° F oven. Add desired vegetables during the last 20 or 30 minutes.
  3. Slow-cooker variation: After browning the meat, transfer to a slow cooker. Pour off excess fat from the pan. Saute onions in the same pan until softened slightly, then add to the slow-cooker. Pour liquid into the pan, scraping up the browned bits. Pour liquid and loosened bits into the slow-cooker, and add carrots, herbs, and other vegetables as desired. Cook on low 8 hours or more.
Jump to Comments (26)

Comments (26) Questions (3)

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about 1 month ago Susan W

I made this last night using Jan In Vaca's idea of pot roast for one. I used 3 boneless short ribs and pounded the flour in as the recipe directed. I made it in my slow cooker which has a saute setting. It turned out amazingly delicious and I ended up with two perfect meals. Can't wait to have part two tonight.

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28 days ago Molly

I also live alone. I never thought of using short ribs. Ingenious.

Miglore

about 1 month ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Yes, in my experience it reduces just enough to make a nice thick gravy, although it wouldn't hurt to check midway through to make sure that the liquid isn't evaporating too quickly.

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about 1 year ago Patty

Ah, I remember my mother tenderizing meat with the side of a plate or saucer. She made great pot roasts regularly too. Thanks for the recipe and the nostalgia.

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about 1 year ago Karen

My Mom used to make a great roast/with Yorkshire pudding, of course:) Mom would always buy a rump roast, & it was always juicy & amazing. I miss my Mom's roast beef dinners.

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about 1 year ago Jan in Vaca

I make this basic recipe for one (1) person by using boneless shortribs. Just brown a couple (or how many you think you can eat) exactly like the roast. I add the veggies, etc. and cook for about half the time. You can do it on the stovetop by keeping your frying pan covered. The onions and other veggies make enough juice to use as gravy. I call it my "potroast for one".

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about 1 month ago Susan W

I know this comment is a year old, but I love the idea of pot roast for one using short ribs.

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about 1 year ago Edward

This was wonderful for dinner Today. My family wants me to make it again.

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about 1 year ago joseph

the recipe for Wasons pot roast is missing a critical item, the oven method cooking temperature. There also seems to be a very wide range for the cooking time. why?

Miglore

about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Thanks for asking -- Wason's original recipe was actually all done on the stovetop, but transferring to a 350 degree oven works very well too (and you don't have to check on it as often). I just updated the recipe with the oven option.

As for the length of time -- it depends on the exact weight and shape of the meat, the size of the pot, etc. Better to start early than late, and hold in a low oven till dinner if it finishes early. The slow cooker method takes much longer, so you'll want to start it in the morning.

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about 1 year ago Richard Holden

HI what a perfect time to find your program F2. I am so alone and for many years I can buy any food I want and I like to cook but raelly haven't in a while. Do you reccamend any particular pot . I have one of those spanish pots but a dutch cost about fifty bucks . I was also thinking of those large electric ovens that many people down here cook their turkeys. I am all alone and five lbs. is to much . I could share it with a couple neighbors but I don't want to buy friend ship. Do you think it's ok to give things to people just to buy a friendship? thans again. Rich

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about 1 year ago kate

Rich, I think it is a wonderful idea to share a dinner with people, don't think of it as buying friends but creating new friendships. Why not invite your neighbors to your house for dinner? It might not work with everyone, but it is worth a try. As for the Crock pot...I have a Ninja that I love, it browns with the stovetop feature. It is a bit on the large size and a tad expensive, but I use it all the time. Good Luck on creating new friendships!

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about 1 year ago Irene

I agree with Kate. Inviting neighbors over for dinner might be exactly what they need and you will reap the benefits too. P.S. Don't forget - the aroma of an apple pie warming in the oven makes people feel right at home.

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about 1 year ago Irene

Thanks, Kate, for the comment about the Ninja. I've been considering buying one. Now, I will.

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about 1 year ago Renee

I would love an invitation to share a meal! I'm the kind of person who would say, "Sure! Can I bring a dessert?"

Stringio

about 1 year ago Ray Schabell

I'm a tad confused. If baby red potato's are one of the "other" veggies that you use. How can they be added in only the final 20 or 30 minutes?

Miglore

about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

If you added the baby potatoes (or other vegetables) in the beginning, they might fall apart. The carrots are added at the beginning for flavoring, and they're nearly falling apart by the end.

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about 1 year ago Alton DuCharme

My grandmother would get top round steak and always pounded it with the edge of a dinner plate. I did, too, until you could get it tenderized in the market.

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over 1 year ago carlye

I have been recently diagnosed with severe anemia and have not felt like cooking anything more ambitious than a lean cuisine for the past year. I started a transfusion regime last week and have been hungry, really hungry ever since! Yesterday I went shopping to fill my empty pantry and purchased everything for your lovely pot roast and my famous Texas Chile (it contains everything the dieticians told me I need: tomatoes, chiles, beef, beans and tomatoes). Today I have prepared your pot roast recipe and I have had to force myself to stay out of the kitchen. It smells so heavenly! I used 1 can of tomatoes/chiles/onions/lime juice, 1/4 C of pomegranate vinegar and 2 cups of finely minced celery as my liquid to the browned roast and browned chopped onion & garlic. I just added my baby red potatoes & baby carrots and I have got to say, this may be my best pot roast ever, the gravy is out of this world! I used the flat end of my meat mallet to drive in the flour, salt & pepper. I am looking forward to this delicious meal which I know will bring me comfort and nourishment.

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over 1 year ago ECMotherwell

I made this last night, and it is simple and excellent. Thanks for posting this great recipe!

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over 1 year ago ktchnninja

thanks for this easily-adaptable recipe! I love that you can mix it up with whatever you have on hand or whatever you can get at the market... and you could come up with a dozen variations pretty easily! this is a keeper roast recipe!

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over 1 year ago dennisbrennan

Wouldn't it be nice if you could somehow make a video of the "pound the mixture with the edge of a plate?" The still photo isn't giving me the picture I need - I'm challenged that way.

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over 1 year ago Kerry Brandin

I grew up with brisket pot roast. How thick or thin do you slice this cut of meat? On a diagonal against the grain or perpendicular to the grain?

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over 1 year ago Jackie Nissen

Thank you for bringing this recipe to me today. I am now a widow and it is hard to find recipes that I can prepare alone. With this Pot Roast I will have left overs for the week ahead, and it is so easy. That to me is so important. I used to cook a storm when my husband was alive, but seemed to have lost interest after he passed on. This sounds like a real comforting meal that I will definitely make and have lots left over for the rest of the week. Thank you again.

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over 1 year ago Mis4

Thank you for the early Mother's Day! My current version has a hefty tablespoon or so of Herbes de Provence, a cup of beef broth, and a cup of decent red wine. Glad you liked it--the plate pounding IS very therapeutic! ILY