she cooks…he cleans

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Pot Roast with Balsamic Onion Gravy

Recipe modified from For the Love of Cooking

There were more important things to tend to than spending long hours in the kitchen – for that afternoon we were picking Brian up at the airport to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with us.  It was also his first visit to what we hope will soon be our full-time home in New Mexico, and we wanted him have a good impression of this place that his father and I love so much.

What simple dinner might be comforting to a traveler after a long day of changing planes and cramped flying?  Pot roast seemed to be the answer – not too fancy, not time-consuming.  However it was a special occasion, so  I decided to veer a little from my basic recipe and add balsamic vinegar to the braising liquid.  Balsamic vinegar enhances the flavor of beef, and when reduced, the  gravy has more of a sweet-and-sour zing to it than plain onion gravy.  I planned on serving this with roasted carrots and bleu cheese polenta triangles.  It turns out that bleu cheese is too “melty” for making crisp polenta shapes…but it makes nice polenta pancakes.  Although this meal lacked in presentation, everyone enjoyed it as we sat around the table, relaxing and catching up with where life has taken us.  Mission accomplished!


  • 3 pound chuck roast, preferably grass-fed
  • Kosher or sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil, for high-heat cooking (I use coconut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ~ 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 325F.  Heat the high-temp oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Sear the chuck roast deeply on both sides until well-browned.  Place the roast in a bowl; set aside.

Pour off the hot oil and add the olive oil to the pan, with the onions and shallot.  Cook for a few minutes, until the onion is softened (but not browned).  Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir for about a minute, until aromatic.  Add the balsamic vinegar and broth; use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan (scrape up the delicious browned bits from the bottom of the pan).  Bring to a boil.

Return the chuck roast to the pan.  Add the bay leaves.  If needed, add more broth or water so that the roast is at least half covered in liquid.  Cover the pan and place in the oven.  Cook for 3-4 hours until the meat is tender enough to cut with a wooden spoon.  (During the last hour or so, partially uncover the roast so some of the liquid will cook off.  Flip the meat over to keep one side from drying out.)

Remove the roast to a serving dish; cover and keep warm.  While the meat is resting, remove the bay leaves from the balsamic onion sauce, and skim as much fat as possible from the top.  Puree in the onions with a stick blender.  (Alternatively, you can strain the sauce if you would like it to be ultra-smooth.) Place on stove over medium high heat and reduce sauce to desired consistency.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.

Slice the pot roast and drizzle with the balsamic onion gravy.  Serve additional gravy on the side.  Enjoy!

A special occasion indeed, and the pot roast was a hit! As was LP shopping in Santa Fe…always find some good stuff. First up, John Hammond’s Country Blues, a early album from the renown blues guitarist. Just him on guitar and harp, doing Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson and more. Stellar stuff!

Any day you can pick up more Albert King is a good day, and I found King of the Blues Guitar, a compilation on Stax with great cuts like “Crosscut Saw” and “Born Under A Bad Sign”. Albert, like the pot roast, don’t fool around!

37 comments on “Pot Roast with Balsamic Onion Gravy

  1. ziabaki
    November 26, 2012

    Looks absolutely amazing!!! And I just ate! Have bookmarked it and will be trying it. As soon as we work through that turkey soup!

    • She cooks...He cleans
      November 30, 2012

      Yum…turkey soup! I froze all my stock and haven’t used it yet.

  2. fcannady
    November 27, 2012

    Can’t wait to try this ! Looks delish !

  3. chowstalker (@Chowstalker)
    December 2, 2012

    Looks so good that I want to move to New Mexico with you! 😀

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  5. Cristal
    January 9, 2013

    I’m going to try this in a crockpot because we are currently living in an RV and our oven is teeny tiny. Paleo on wheels! If you have any suggestions, I’d love them because this recipe looks delish!

    • She cooks...He cleans
      January 9, 2013

      Thanks, Cristal! I don’t blame you for not cranking up the oven in an RV. This recipe should work just fine in a crock pot. I would recommend searing the roast and then deglazing the pan before putting it all in the crock pot, because you don’t want to lose that extra flavor. When the roast is done, you might also want to move the gravy to another pan to reduce it on the stove before serving. I hope it turns out great for you!

  6. Joe
    January 22, 2013

    This came out great. My wife who isn’t a big meat fan enjoyed it! Will defintely make again. Thanks!

  7. James
    January 26, 2013

    Just made your pot roast and it was amazing. Thanks!

  8. maria
    January 28, 2013

    can this be used in a slow cooker?

    • She cooks...He cleans
      January 28, 2013

      Maria, I think it would work fine in a slow cooker. I would make sure to brown the meat well before putting it in the cooker. See my other suggestions on the 4th comment (above).

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  10. Erica
    February 2, 2013

    3-4 hours? That’s a big difference in time! Was it closer to three hours or four hours when you made it? Thanks!

  11. She cooks...He cleans
    February 2, 2013

    Well, I like to put a range because cooking will differ pot roast to pot roast, and oven to oven. It is not precise, like baking. Also this particular recipe I cooked at high altitude – so it’s hard to judge how that will work closer to sea level. It’s best to check on it around three hours, and follow the instructions about how tender it is at that point. If you can cut through it with a wooden spoon, it is probably done. Alternatively, if you twist a fork in it and it falls apart, it’s done. It’s hard to overcook a pot roast – as long as it has liquid in it, it is likely to be pretty forgiving.

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  25. racheycakes
    October 4, 2016

    I made this last Sunday. Only change was using the whole can of tomato paste (small) and I put it in my crockpot on low for 6 hours since I don’t have a dutch oven. It was AMAZING!! I will definitely be making this again.

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  28. Carrie
    August 17, 2017

    This is one of my favorite recipes! I make it in the crockpot instead of the oven and it turns out amazing every time!

  29. Carrie
    January 21, 2018

    Love this recipe! I have to make it at least once per round of Whole 30. I follow your directions exactly, except throw it in the crockpot on low for 8 hours instead of the oven. Comes out so tender and the gravy is so rich, but in a good way…perfection. thank you!

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