Ranney Ranch Pot Roast           

With gratitude to Deborah Madison not only for offering her recipe but for working in steadfast support of humane and environmentally responsible livestock production in the Southwest over the past decade and more.

For six or more

I’ve made this with arm roast and chuck roast, and it’s good with each. Pot roast is definitely a winter dish, one to make when you want to warm up the kitchen, because it cooks in the oven, rather than on top of the stove, the only way I’ve found to make sure the meat cooks slowly and stays moist. You can add winter root vegetables (see variation). It helps to keep the meat intact by tying it together with a string. Just undo it before serving.

This recipe is based on one by Bruce Aidells and is for a 3 to 4-pound piece of meat.

Mustard Rub

  • 2 teaspoons sweet (not hot) paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper

The Meat

  • 3 – 4 pounds grass fed chuck roast or arm roast
  • 2 pieces bacon, cut into ½-inch crosswise strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups dried red wine
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 plump garlic cloves, peeled, halved and sprouts, if any, removed

Mix all the ingredients for the rub together, then rub them into the meat. You can do this the day before, then refrigerate for the spices to penetrate the meat better.

Heat the oven to 300’F.

Warm a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned a somewhat crisp. With only two pieces, there shouldn’t be too much fat. Add the olive oil and when hot, add the meat and sear, turning it so that all the sides are browned. Then, set the meat and bacon on a platter.

Add the red wine to the pot, bring to a boil, and scrape the pot to bring up any of the brown bits. Reduce to about ¾ cup, after ten minutes or so. Add ½ cup water, the bacon and bay leaves then the roast. Scatter the onions and garlic over and around the meat. Cover and bake for one hour.

Remove the lid and turn the meat over so that it’s now on top of the onions. Cover and bake for another hour, or longer until the roast is fork tender. Serve it with the sauce that’s in the pan long with the onions and garlic.

Variation with Vegetables

Winter vegetables (carrots, parsnips, celery root, mushrooms) and delicious with a roast. Peel and cut those you’re using—about a pound in all— into chunks about an inch-long or wide and add them during the second hour of cooking.


To complement this recipe, please look at Deborah’s lovely book Vegetable Literacy, which explores twelve plant families and their relationships, and brings them into your kitchen and your life in a whole new fashion.