This classic pot roast with gravy is traditional comfort food with a twist. I use my mother’s technique of studding the meat with cloves of garlic and the results are phenomenal. The garlic melts into the braised meat, creating little pockets of flavor. The pot roast is slow cooked for hours allowing the vegetables to cook down and create an unctuous gravy that coats the meat and pools onto your mound of mashed potatoes (which I highly recommend serving this with).
Growing up Iranian meant we’d regularly enjoy various Persian braises (khoresht) with rice rather than meat and potatoes. In fact, potatoes were so rare in our home that boiled potatoes with lashings of butter sprinkled with “golpar” (Persian hogweed) were a special treat met with gusto by my siblings and me.
One Christmas Eve when I was ten years old, my mom introduced us to a truly “American” holiday feast. I remember mom spending hours in the kitchen that day but the aromas wafting through the house were not the usual scents of saffron and turmeric. I watched in awe as Maman pierced holes all over a large hunk of meat and stuffed each hole with a clove of garlic. After salting and searing the meat on the stovetop, Maman sauteed an assortment of winter vegetables and tucked the pot in the oven to cook for a very long time.
When the roast emerged and Maman served the meat and its juices over mashed potatoes we were all impressed. My mom is the best cook I know but whenever she ventures outside of Persian cuisine, producing mouthwatering meals from different cultures, we’re all truly impressed. I aspire to be as good a cook as Maman is and I like to start with recipes that remind me of my younger days.
This recipe is recreated from my childhood memory and has been tested in my kitchen to produce similarly breathtaking results. I made this dish for Christmas this year and it was met with rave reviews, similar to Maman’s dish years ago. A huge compliment and a wonderful night spent with my nearest and dearest.
How to prepare the fennel step by step.
I hope you like this classic pot roast with gravy as much as my family does. Leave a comment below if you cook this and ask questions along the way!
A classic, winter Pot Roast with the perfect balance of flavors and a delicious gravy.
4–5 pounds boneless chuck roast
1 whole head garlic, skins removed and large cloves cut in half lengthwise
Kosher salt (your salt should be coarse, if you’re using fine salt such as sea salt, be sure to reduce the amounts prescribed below by ½)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Fresh cracked black pepper
2 yellow onions, sliced
1 bulb fennel, core and fronds removed and fennel sliced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup red wine (such as cabernet sauvignon)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 28-ounce can of tomatoes (I recommend San Marzano)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 dried bay leaves
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
Serving suggestion: mashed potatoes or egg noodles (I personally prefer the mashed potatoes as they’ll soak up the delicious gravy)
The night before cooking:
Pat the meat dry with paper towels.
Use a small, sharp knife to puncture holes all over the fatty side of the meat.
Push 1 garlic clove into each of the incisions.
Sprinkle 1 Tablespoons salt all over the meat on all sides
Wrap the garlic studded, salted meat tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Day of cooking:
Remove the meat from the fridge 1 hour or 30 minutes before cooking to take the chill off.
Move an oven rack to the bottom third of the oven (leaving enough space for your covered dutch oven to eventually fit on the rack without touching the top of the oven).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven and cover the meat with fresh cracked black pepper.
Sear the meat in the Dutch oven until browned on all sides, 3-4 minutes per side.
Move the seared meat to a rimmed baking sheet, set aside.
Add onions, fennel, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt to the now empty pan.
Deglaze the dutch oven with a splash of water, cook onions over medium until lightly browned, 5-6 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the dutch oven with a wooden spoon while the onions are cooking to release any pieces of meat stuck to the pan.
Add the thyme and butter to the onions, cook until the butter has melted and the thyme is fragrant, 2 minutes.
Add the flour to the pan and stir to combine with the onions, about 2 minutes.
Add the wine, tomato paste, canned tomatoes and their juices, and the chicken broth to the pan. Drop the bay leaves in the pot and bring to a simmer.
Return the seared meat to the dutch oven, along with any juices that may have accumulated in the baking sheet.
Cover the dutch oven with its lid and place the covered pot in the oven.
Let the meat braise in the oven until a fork easily pierces the thickest parts of the meat and the meat flakes easily when you twist the fork, about 2-3 hours. Note: if after 3 hours the fork doesn’t easily pierce the meat, continue cooking the meat until it is tender.
Carefully remove the dutch oven from the oven and let it sit, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
Remove the chunk of meat to a cutting board, leaving the vegetables and juices in the pan.
If you wish to serve the pot roast with a rustic gravy, simply slice up the meat, transfer it to a serving dish and spoon the vegetables and sauce over the meat. Garnish with parsley and serve.
If you wish to make a quick, delicious gravy (hint: this is the method I use) use an immersion blender to blend the juices and vegetables in the pot to create a thick, delicious gravy. If you don’t have an immersion blender (also called a sick blender) you can transfer the vegetables and juices to a regular blender (in batches) and carefully blend the ingredients until smooth. Be careful to not overfill the container if using a blender as steam will build up.
If you’ve blended the gravy, slice up the meat and transfer it to a serving dish. Ladle some of the gravy over the meat, garnish with parsley and transfer the rest to a gravy boat or large bowl and let guests help themselves.
This dish is best if you salt and stud the meat with garlic the night before you plan to cook it. If you’re short on time, allow at least 30 minutes for the salt to penetrate the meat before cooking. Plan ahead, this roast takes at least 3 hours in the oven.