Cider Pot Roast

Cider Pot Roast plated with carrots, onions, and mashed potatoes
Cider Pot Roast

While I know there are people out there who dream of steak dinners, prime rib, or some other fancy cut of cow, my all-time favorite beef dinner is a good pot roast. I’ve been wanting to post a pot roast dinner to the blog for years now, but I hadn’t figured out how to get the right flavor and texture.

Pot roast should be falling apart, fork-tender meat. The onions and carrots should be flavorful, and the braising liquid should be able to be a gravy with no added flavor, only thickening (and I almost never bother).  I have made countless pot roasts that have not met this bar. I’ve tried gluten-free beer, wines, beef and chicken broth, and seasoned water. Eh.  Everything was edible, but nothing was great.

This time, I tried hard apple cider, Farnum Hill Dooryard Cider, in fact, which is local to New Hampshire. I’m not sure how easy it might be to find elsewhere, but it is gluten-free and safe for me. This cider tends towards dryness, rather than sweetness, which is ideal for this application. See what you can find, and make sure you taste it before cooking with it.

When I tasted this, I ended up going in a slightly different direction with herbs. I did try this with the more traditional thyme, and it was good, but oregano and apple cider was the winning combination for me. Another good reason to taste your ingredients!

Cider pot roast prep
Preparing pot roast for baking. Keen eyes may pick up that this is the thyme-covered roast, not the oregano in the recipe. You’d be correct — this photo just turned out much better.

The beef is browned before baking, and it’s cooked with browned onions and carrots, and served over simple smashed potatoes. The recipe lists 3 carrots, but honestly, add as many as your casserole or Dutch oven will hold, as they are amazing. If you prefer to enrich your potatoes with safe margarine and non-dairy milk, feel free — I think they soak up more pan juices without those, though. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Cider Pot Roast
Print Recipe
This is the pot roast of my childhood -- tender meat that you don't need a knife to eat, slathered in onions, best served over mashed potatoes. In this recipe, I found that hard cider made a good gluten-free substitution for beer.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 3 hours
Cook Time Passive Time
2.5 hours 2.5 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 people 3 hours
Cook Time Passive Time
2.5 hours 2.5 hours
Cider Pot Roast
Print Recipe
This is the pot roast of my childhood -- tender meat that you don't need a knife to eat, slathered in onions, best served over mashed potatoes. In this recipe, I found that hard cider made a good gluten-free substitution for beer.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 3 hours
Cook Time Passive Time
2.5 hours 2.5 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 people 3 hours
Cook Time Passive Time
2.5 hours 2.5 hours
Ingredients
  • 1 medium (baseball) onion
  • 1 Tablespoon fat olive oil, bacon fat, whatever you want to use is good here
  • 1.5 lbs. boneless chuck roast
  • salt and pepper to taste, but be generous
  • 3 carrots (actually,I'd add as many as your pot will hold, cut into large chunks)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cup hard apple cider make sure your brand is safe for you
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 lb. potatoes, mashed make them however you like them
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Turn your oven on at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. If you have a stove-top to oven-safe dutch oven or other casserole, this is a good recipe to use it. I do not, so I start out in a skillet, and then transfer to a lidded casserole dish. Either way, heat your pan over medium heat, and add the oil or fat.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the onions, frying until they start to brown. When they are all translucent and/or browning (15-20 minutes, stir regularly), remove from the pan. If you're using a casserole for the baking, transfer them directly there (I advise you lightly grease the dish AND lid).
  4. Turn up the heat just a bit (medium-high). Salt and pepper all sides of your roast liberally, and use freshly ground pepper if you can. Then brown each side. You don't have to brown the short sides, but it tastes better if you do. Plan on 3-5 minutes per side.
  5. Now either add the browned beef to your greased casserole dish that has onions at the bottom, or add the onions back to the pot (but not on top of the beef). Add your carrots around the sides of the beef.
  6. Sprinkle the oregano over the top of the dish. Then add the cider and water along the side. I like to have the herbs bake to the top of the meat, so don't wash them off with the cider.
  7. Cover and bake the pot roast for 2-3 hours. Two and a half is a good estimate, as it gives the meat time to braise and for all the fibers in the meat to break apart. Check on it at 2 hours for two things -- using a meat thermometer, see if it's done (170F/77C for well done, and this is pot roast), and then see if the meat is tender. Cook longer if needed. You can definitely turn off the oven and let the casserole continue in the pre-heated oven for the last 30 minutes, provided that the meat has reached its internal temperature.
  8. For the potatoes, I prefer the simplest preparation -- cook whole potatoes in salted water until a knife stuck through the center shows they are done. Then drain and smash, adding nothing. These are the perfect potatoes for absorbing other flavors, as the texture is a bit fluffier than traditional mashed potatoes. But make the potatoes you love.
  9. Serve meat and onions and carrots over potatoes, with plenty of the juice from the pan.
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