Make Ahead

Betty Wason's Basic Pot Roast

May  7, 2013
13 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 17 Fall Slow-Cooker Recipes to Curl Up With. —The Editors

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 5 hours
  • Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • 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)
In This Recipe
Directions
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Clifford Edwards
    Clifford Edwards
  • Gloria Rohmann
    Gloria Rohmann
  • M.McAwesome
    M.McAwesome
  • Kate Valleri
    Kate Valleri
  • AntoniaJames
    AntoniaJames
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

49 Reviews

Anna N. November 13, 2020
This turned out really well and the house smelled amazing! I used cassava flour instead of wheat flour as I'm gluten-free, along with large sprigs of rosemary and thyme from the garden, and shallots instead of "small onions".
 
Anna N. November 13, 2020
This turned out really well and the house smelled amazing!
 
PenelopePlyr March 28, 2020
Loved this although I did not use the bay leaf or thyme. I chose to use rosemary and garlic. Very, very tender and good. Also made some cooked cabbage with meal.
 
Clifford E. September 27, 2019
Don't the vegetables disintegrate after cooking for 8 hours?
 
carlye September 29, 2019
As stated in the recipe: Add desired vegetables during the last 20 or 30 minutes.
 
Mary March 16, 2019
I made this pot roast on the stove top and I have to agree it is basic. I tried pounding the flour, salt, pepper mixture into the meat per instructions. I didn't see any difference with this method. One of my problems is trying to get the meat to be flavorful and was hoping the approach used in this recipe would be the solution. Unfortunately, for me, it was not. I used beef bouillon, bay leaf, thyme, onions, potatoes, and carrots.
 
alpinestar February 9, 2019
Made this yesterday in my slow cooker and it was a dream. I was sceptical as this feels like something my mom would make (my tastes tend to run more vegetable-forward and middle-eastern or asian flavours), but I was so happy with it. I used instant beef bouillon for the liquid and served over buttered egg noodles with parsley- big recommend. We had salad on the table but totally ignored. Also, I'm not sure if I really got the 'plate-crushed-flour-crust' right, but it didn't seem to matter.
 
Sarag September 16, 2018
I’m wondering what it would be like if I substitute chickpea flour for the wheat flour...
 
Shannon M. October 11, 2018
Potato flour, if friendly to your stomach, is a great substitute for wheat flour in recipes such as this - very neutral. I love chickpea flour, but it does add its own chickpea funky flavor...
 
Sarag October 11, 2018
I did end up using chickpea flour and it was great!
 
Sarag October 11, 2018
And, yes, potato flour would be great, too.
 
Gloria R. August 26, 2018
I got Betty Wason's wonderful Everything Cookbook for a wedding present. I have made this many times but I also add this step for fabulous gravy: After the meat is done, remove it from the gravy and puree the gravy in a blender or food processor. Put the gravy and the meat back in the pot and reheat. Serve with wide noodles (no potatoes), and steamed green beans or broccoli.
 
Alison June 4, 2018
I made this a couple of months ago, when the temperatures were a tad chilly, and it was fantastic. Really. I used red wine, added some shallots as part of the onion, but otherwise didn't mess with it. It was one of the most tasty pot roasts I have ever had, and the genre is known for taste (perhaps not fashion). totally recommend this one. I meant to comment earlier, but forgot, and came across the listing when I was looking for something else.
 
kittykatofdoom January 23, 2018
I'm looking forward to making this this weekend, and I was wondering if anyone has tried making this with wondra flour and whether there would be any benefit to trying it that way?
Thanks :)
 
M.McAwesome December 18, 2017
I made this over the weekend, it was so good. I just heated some up for lunch and it is even better.
I made in my Instant Pot pressure cooker. Mostly followed the recipe but after browning meat and softening the veggies a bit, I put everything in on the stew/meat setting for 75 minutes. Came out perfectly. I skipped adding potatoes to serve over egg noodles.
 
Kate V. May 24, 2017
The family loves this recipe. I used half red wine/stock for the liquid and threw in some fresh sage, rosemary and thyme. I put all the veggies in at the beginning and it was perfect.
 
jenncc April 15, 2016
This was fantastic and simple. Added mushrooms, fresh herbs, half sliced onions/ half cipollini onions, served with potatoes. The gravy was thick and delicious, the roast was tender and moist. Cooked in the oven at 300.
 
Becks D. January 1, 2016
Can you cook on high for 4 hours instead or will it not be as tender?
 
Vincent October 18, 2015
When do you add the small potatoes for slow cooking
 
Kristen M. October 19, 2015
For these photos, I added halfway through cooking, but my mom usually adds all the vegetables at the beginning (or starts the meat and adds the vegetables when she has time—"It's not rocket science," as she says). In the slow cooker, they're less likely to fall apart than on the stove-top.
 
jamie M. January 22, 2015
my go to meals for winter weekends... I also brown a couple of browned oxtails to add to it. I'm a tinkerer of recipes and to be honest nothing needs to change. It's just a classic meal... for good reason.
 
AntoniaJames December 27, 2014
Best pot roast ever. Seriously. Cannot imagine doing it any other way. ;o)
 
Susan W. October 18, 2014
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.
 
Molly October 27, 2014
I also live alone. I never thought of using short ribs. Ingenious.
 
[email protected] October 12, 2014
Is one cup of liquid enough if you are not using a slow cooker? I know less liquid evaporates in a slow cooker than stovetop or oven. Thanks. Looks delicious.
 
Kristen M. October 12, 2014
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.
 
Patty November 3, 2013
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.