I'm not sure how I got my mind set on Pot Roast, but I'm so glad I did! The rainy season came early to California this year, and we're all grateful for the rain but a little bummed to miss what's usually the nicest weather of the year, September and October. Pot roast is the ultimate Sunday Supper, hearty and, while time-consuming even with a pressure cooker, very simple. With such a heavy dish, though, it's important to have something fresh on the side. While the roast does its thing, steam some nice baby carrots and make a little salad with a light vinaigrette--you can even use the tender parts of the carrot greens for the salad.
This serves 6 for a seated meal and takes about 2 hours total if you use the jus as is rather than letting it cool to make a thickened gravy with the fat, shaving at least an hour off the time for a traditional pot roast. Recipe card at bottom.
The other accompaniment I have here is a Garlic White Bean Puree from Fine Cooking Magazine. It tastes almost like mashed potatoes because of the cream, but with a lower glycemic index. It's a bit of work, but you can speed it up with two cans of beans instead of dry, or sub mashed potatoes if those are fine for you.
1. Prepare the mushrooms and the meat: At least 20 min before starting, put 1 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms in a heatproof cup or bowl and pour 1 cup boiling water over them. (If porcinis are unavailable or too pricey, get shiitakes instead. I got these in the bulk section, labeled by the horrifying price per pound, but about $4 for an ounce as opposed to $6 for a small packet.) Set a heatproof coffee cup or ramekin on top of the mushrooms if they're not submerged.
Season a 3 pound beef roast (chuck or brisket, whichever is on sale) with salt and pepper and let the meat absorb the seasoning while the mushrooms soften. Leave in the big pieces of fat for flavor--you'll be able to remove them once it's cooked. After the 20 minutes are up for the mushroom soaking, pour off the liquid, being sure to let any grit stay at the bottom of the first cup, set aside to use as the broth for the roast, and chop the reconstituted mushrooms.
2. Brown the roast and chop the onions: press the "saute" function of the Instant Pot (or pre-heat a heavy oven-safe Dutch oven). Add 2 Tbsp olive oil and wait until the display reads "HOT" before adding the meat in. Also use pot holders to take out the inner liner and give the oil a good swirl before adding the meat because it will have settled around the edges.
Let the meat sit on one side for at least 5 minutes before lifting up to see if it releases easily from the pan. If it doesn't, it needs another minute or two. When it's browned on the one side, turn it over and brown the second side. Remove it from the pot and set aside for a minute.
3. Deglaze the pan: Pour in 1 cup of Pinot Noir and 2 Tbsp tomato paste and stir for a few minutes, scraping up the yummy browned bits on the bottom. Let the wine simmer for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol, or it'll be trapped in the pressure cooker and not cook down. (Options: you can use another kind of red wine if you like, but Pinot and Mushrooms are heavenly together. If you don't want to use wine, sub 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar and 1/2 c water.)
4. Build the layers and roast: Cut one medium to large onion in half and then into to 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. These will start out as a nice little bed for the roast to rest on and then melt into delicious semi-oblivion in the sauce.
Lay the slices of onion into the reduced red wine at the bottom of the Instant Pot (it's possible that it has turned itself off of the saute function by now, and that's OK, but if that happens during the simmering, put it back on). Put the chopped reconstituted mushrooms on the onions, and then lay the browned meat on top of that. Being careful to strain out any dirty silt at the bottom of the mushroom liquid, pour that over the top of everything.
Set the IP on high for 55 minutes (for a 3-pound roast--add or subtract 5 min if you go up or down a pound in weight of meat). Lock the lid and let it do its thing, including 15-20 minutes of natural pressure release, before you open it back up. Do your fresh sides, clean the kitchen, or take a nap!
5. Slice and serve! The pot roast differs from other long-cooked meats that are meant to be shredded or pulled in that it's served in beautiful slices. Remove the meat and place on a cutting board to slice up. Serve over mashed beans or potatoes with ladlefuls of the jus from the pot and your lovely steamed veg on the side.
6. Gravy thickening options: thickening up the sauce isn't necessary, but it can make the sauce even lovelier.
-If you use cornstarch, you can make a slurry with 2 Tbsp of that and 2 Tbsp cold water. Stir into the jus before serving.
-If you are serving the roast later in the day or the following day, you can chill the whole pot in the fridge after letting it come down to room temp on the counter. This will let the fat in the jus rise to the top and harden, and you can take some of that fat off to use in a roux (might as well keep italicizing the fancy French words). See that lovely fat? Take about 3 Tbsp of it off and melt it in a pan on the stove.
Whisk in 3 Tbsp chickpea flour (if you're an Always Hungry? devotee like me) or 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour and cook for 3-4 minutes until the flour taste is gone. You won't be able to see it turn from white to brown like a butter or oil roux, but why add additional fat when you can take it right from the dish?
Ladle in the jus from the roast a little at a time until it's all incorporated. Taste for salt and pepper, adding more if needed. Now dig in already!