For a few years now, my family has kept cows in the pasture behind our house. Like marriage, this is not an endeavor that should be entered into lightly.
It takes a lot of hard work, from regularly feeding the cows and chasing them after they escape to repairing the fence that your son destroyed with wire cutters when he and his friend wanted to take a shortcut through the field.
Our first two cows were aptly named Pot Roast and Barbecue, and, let me assure you, they were delicious. Since then, we have had a rolling succession of cows come and go through our back pasture, and their resulting steaks, roasts and ribs have routinely filled our freezer.
Because of our proximity to all this delicious beef, I make pot roast fairly often. For years, I sort of bumbled my way through, usually producing somewhat dry and sad roasts, until one day I stumbled upon a recipe online that apparently everyone in the world knew about except for me.
If you are similarly in the dark about the most delicious roast on the face of the earth, allow me to enlighten you.
4-pound beef chuck roast (other cuts of beef work great, as well)
¼ cup butter
5 pepperoncini peppers
1 1-ounce packet ranch dressing mix
1 1-ounce packet dry au jus mix
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Pour the oil in a large oven-safe pot and sear the beef on the stove on high heat for a couple minutes on each side. Remove from the heat. Place the butter and peppers on top of the roast, and sprinkle the ranch dressing mix and dry au jus mix on top. Add two inches of water to the pot, cover and cook in the oven at 300 degrees for 4-5 hours.
I’m told by the internet that this can also be made in a slow cooker. Just forgo the searing, place the ingredients (minus the oil and water) in a slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 hours. It sure sounds a lot easier and less messy than the stove-top/oven version, but I’ve never tried it because, in my opinion, the searing is just too delicious a step to skip.
When I make this roast for my large family, I always double it, and, even then, we routinely eat every last bite. On the rare occasion that we do have leftovers, it’s a no-brainer what to do with them the next day: French dip sandwiches.
This “recipe” could not be simpler: take a crusty roll, slice it in half, and lay it on a cookie sheet. Top one half of the roll with shredded roast beef, and top the other half with a slice of Swiss cheese. I like to slide the pan under the broiler for a minute to toast the bun a bit and get the cheese nice and bubbly, but it is also delicious without broiling.
For the au jus, you are welcome to search online for any number of homemade recipes, which are not complicated and will take you no longer than 10 minutes to make. But as for me and my house, we will use a store-bought packet of dry au jus mix because I just made a homemade pot roast the day before, for crying out loud, and I am done with the whole kitchen experience.
Once the au jus is nice and hot, pour it into ramekins for dipping, and enjoy the best sandwich you’ll have all week.
Julia Ditto can be reached at email@example.com.
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