Two Packet Pot Roast is as good as its word. And one of my favorites on this site. It’s extremely easy and utterly unctuous as it uses only two flavor packets plus some water, balsamic vinegar, and time. Low and slow it yields fall-apart deliciousness. Once it’s fork-tender you’ll skim off the grease, thicken the sauce and serve with some veg…more on that later in the post.
What it’s not
It’s not Mississippi Pot Roast. I tried this famous and much-loved recipe and while it was good I noted some problems. It uses a couple of sticks of butter and a jar of peppers in addition to the roast. First, I don’t think the peppers do a whole lot for the flavor. Second, I completely fail to understand why any recipe would call for butter in a slow-cooked chuck roast that is heavily marbled with fat.
I mean that butter comes from cows and Chuck roast comes from cows and fat is fat when it originates in the same beast, so why? Why waste that butter when everyone is getting killed by grocery prices and there’s plenty of fat in the meat?
What it is
It’s making the Chuck and the flavor packets do their magic while you are on the porch with some iced tea and snacks visiting with the neighbors. Sound good? Keep reading.
What you need
- a packet of French Onion Soup Mix
- a packet of powdered Ranch Dressing Mix
- a few tablespoons of red balsamic vinegar
- a beautiful piece of Chuck Roast – 3 to 6lbs
- an optional teaspoon of red pepper flakes if you want some heat
How to prepare
Dry off the roast and sear in a braising pan as shown below or a dutch oven. If using a dutch oven you may cut into chunks and sear in batches. No need to salt this as there is plenty of salt in the mixes you’ll add.
Sprinkle the packets over the roast.
Mix the water and the balsamic vinegar and pour into the pan. Cover and cook at 275 for several hours checking for doneness halfway.
After the meat is done remove to a serving dish and skim the extra fat off the gravy. There should be a lot. Now you know why you never needed the butter. Put a pat in the final product for some shine if you want. It’s all you’ll need.
Cut the roast into chunks and serve.
Tips & Tricks
I use the full packets for any weight of roast between 3 and 6 lbs. The roast in the picture is about 3.5 lbs but if you are going for the full 6 lbs. you’ll just add two cups of water and double the vinegar.
If you don’t have red balsamic vinegar try a sweet port wine (Taylor or Cockburn’s is good) or a Marsala, which is a Sicilian fortified wine. Be creative!
Chuck Roast is best, but if you find Round it will cook up nicely too if slightly less tender.
Yes, you can do this in a slow cooker. Eight hours on low if seared first.
Savory Side Dishes
As you can see in the photo I served it with a baked potato and carrots that had been boiled and then pan glazed in a little butter and a teaspoon of sugar.
But other options could include:
So you’ve got your main and sides….now get cooking!
- 3 to 6 lbs Chuck
- 1 package Ranch Dressing
- 1 package french onion soup mix (Knorr's is good)
- 1 cup water (2 cups if the roast is 6 lbs.)
- 3 tablespoons red balsamic vinegar (or a sweet red wine)
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- For the meat:
- Dry off the meat and sear in a little olive or vegetable oil.
- Empty the packets over it.
- Stir the balsamic vinegar into the water and pour over the roast.
- Add the red pepper flakes if using.
- Cook covered at 275 for about 3 hours or until it is fork tender.
- For the gravy:
- Remove the roast & set aside.
- Skim the fat off the liquid in the pot. If you have time pour it all into a container and put in the freezer for 30 then pop the fat off when it solidifies.
- Dissolve a tablespoon of cornstarch in the cooled gravy or in water.
- Return the gravy to the pot and warm over medium heat. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch and after it thickens serve over the meat or in a side container.
- Taste for seasoning and add a little more balsamic vinegar for flavor if desired and a teaspoon of butter for a nice glossy finish.
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