Instant Pot: Really Good Classic Pot Roast

This is the time of year when I really enjoy being in the kitchen. Granted, I love being in the kitchen  all year round but there's something about the fall season when cooking in the kitchen just feels really good. Perhaps its partially due to all the comforting dishes I tend to make during the brisk season. One such dish that I tend to make is a pot roast. There are so many different recipes on how to prepare it that I enjoy testing new ones every year in hopes of finding something new, interesting or challenging. This time, I tried this Really Good Pot Roast recipe with a sauce made with roasted vegetables...

Most recipes for pot roast I've made called for the use of a slow cooker. I've made a few versions this way, all of them pretty tasty. They start out with browning the meat then placing it on a bed of vegetables where it cooks for hours until tender. In the process, a rich sauce or gravy is made from the accumulated juices while the roast is slow cooked. To thicken this gravy, a touch of cornstarch or flour is added with some broth, if needed.

This recipe is quite different where I'm using my beloved Instant Pot where the vegetables are sautéed briefly. Broth, red wine, tomato paste, and aromatics join the vegetables. The meat is seasoned and then placed directly on the sautéed vegetables without browning. The lid is secured and pressured cooked until tender. But what really drew me towards this recipe was the gravy was made.

After the roast has been in the oven for hours, it's removed and set aside. The liquid from the pot is then strained and skimmed of fat. This liquid goes back into the pot along with the strained vegetables where it's blended using an immersion blender. All the cooked down onions, carrots and celery is pureed every so smoothly to create a really good gravy to naturally accompany a Really Good Pot Roast. Never mind the fact that the gravy is further flavored with chopped fresh thyme, more red wine and balsamic vinegar to give it an extra punch. It's an interesting technique and one I enjoyed using my immersion blender for.

Alternately, you could blend the gravy in a blender per the original recipe from Cooks Illustrated but I didn't want to lug my blender out of the depths of my cupboard. Besides, this recipe gave me a reason to use my immersion blender for something other than smoothies and soups!

Classic Pot Roast
recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated

1 (3.5-4lb) boneless chuck eye roast
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, sliced thin
1 cup baby carrots
1 celery rib, chopped medium
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup beef broth, plus 1-2 cups for sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig plus 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Prep the roast by pulling the roast into two pieces at its natural seam and trim the roast by removing any large knobs of fat. Sprinkle the pieces of meat with 1 tablespoon of salt and place on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.

Press SAUTE and add 1 tablespoon oil. A
dd the onions and cook until softened and they begin to brown. Add the carrots and celery; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes longer. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in 1 cup of beef broth, 1/2 cup of wine, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme spring; bring to a simmer. 

Pat the beef dry with paper towels after it sat out for an hour. Season the roast generously with pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Nestle the meat on top of the sautéed vegetables. 

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 75 minutes on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 75 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.

When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 75 minutes, allow your IP to naturally release pressure for 15-20 minutes. While naturally releasing pressure (also known as NPR or NR), the display will reflect numbers counting up from 1. The numbers indicate how many minutes the IP has stopped cooking since it beeped (or how many minutes it has been naturally releasing pressure).  No need to touch your IP while it naturally releases pressure. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).

Transfer the roast to a serving platter and tent loosely with a piece of foil.

At this point, you can serve the pot roast with the vegetables and sauce if you wanted something quick and easy. But if you're looking for an awesome gravy, read on!...

With the remaining sauce in the IP, strain the liquid through a mesh strainer and into a 4 cup liquid measuring cup. Allow the liquid to settle for 5 minutes, then skim any fat off the surface. Add beef broth to the strained liquid as necessary to bring the liquid amount to 3 cups. Place the liquid back into the IP insert (which does not need to be cleaned).

Of the strained vegetables, discard the bay leaf and thyme spring. Place the remaining vegetables back into the same cooking pot with the strained liquid.

Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprig. Transfer the vegetables back into the IP. Using an immersion blender, blend the vegetables and liquid in the pot until smooth. 

Press SAUTE and bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in thyme, remaining 1/4 cup wine, and balsamic vinegar into the sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon half of the sauce over the plated roast and serve the roast with extra sauce on the side.