Pot roast, at its most basic, is a big piece of meat (usually beef) braised with vegetables, the sauce thickened into a gravy at the end. It’s simple food, comfort food. A classic one-pot meal. If a culture eats beef, its cuisine probably includes a version. There are as many kinds of pot roast as there are cooks who make it, and, especially in the United States, recipes for pot roast are often full of secret ingredients.
Which might be why Mississippi pot roast recipes went viral a few years back. The original recipe is basically nothing but secret ingredients: a packet of ranch dressing mix, a packet of gravy mix, some pepperoncini, and a stick of butter get tossed into a slow cooker before everything is braised into submission. The beef becomes meltingly tender, in a sauce that’s tangy and savory. All from opening a few packets.
Well, if Mississippi gets its own pot roast, I figured Texas should have one too. My Texas pot roast has secrets of its own: taking inspiration from those pepperoncini, this gets tang and the barest hint of spice from pickled jalapeños. It’s sweetened, just a bit, from a big Texas 1015 sweet onion. It gets backbone from a bottle of Shiner Bock and oomph from a splash of Vietnamese fish sauce. And the spices are straight from Tex-Mex, a trio of black pepper, cumin, and chili powder. At the end, sweet potatoes are cooked in the gravy for a one-pot meal that’s ready in a little bit under an hour, thanks to the Instant Pot.
It’s a flexible recipe. It’s really not all that spicy, but if you have kids who can’t handle heat, leave out the chili powder and swap the jalapeños for vinegar. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip searing the beef (although it’s really worth doing if you can find the time). If you don’t care for sweet potatoes, you could boil egg noodles in the gravy, or serve the pot roast with mashed potatoes on the side, or even cornbread. Plus, it freezes like a dream.
Instant Pot Texas Pot Roast With Sweet Potatoes
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
1 2–3 pound chuck roast, cut in half, if necessary, to fit in Instant Pot
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large Texas sweet onion, halved lengthwise, and then cut lengthwise into ½-inch strips (1 ½–2 cups)
1 longneck bottle Shiner Bock (12 ounces)
7-ounce can pickled jalapeño peppers and their juice (or ¼ cup apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
To thicken the gravy:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons flour
- Combine salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder in a small bowl. Rub all over the beef. (For best flavor, this can be done ahead, up to overnight, but it’s not necessary.)
- Set Instant Pot to sauté. Add cooking oil and sear beef all over until browned, about 3–4 minutes per side. Remove the beef and set aside.
- Add the unsalted butter and the onion. Stir, scraping up the brown bits at the bottom of the pot, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Put the beef back in, and add Shiner, jalapeños or vinegar, fish sauce, bay leaf, and oregano. Close the lid. Set to cook at high pressure for 40 minutes.
- Let the pressure come down for 15 minutes on its own before releasing the pressure manually. Remove the lid and set the beef aside in a dish to rest. Cover with foil.
- Use a ladle to skim the fat off the top of the liquid that remains. If you have a fat separator, use that, but you should be able to get most of it with a ladle.
- Set the Instant Pot to sauté. Add the sweet potatoes and cook about 10 minutes, or until soft.
- While the sweet potatoes are cooking, mash the softened butter and flour together with a fork to form a paste. About 3 minutes before the sweet potatoes are done, add the paste to the pot to thicken the gravy.
- Using two forks, pull the beef into large chunks—you’re not looking to shred it, just pull it into serving-sized pieces. Serve with the gravy and sweet potatoes.