Yankee pot roast is classic diner food and doesn’t require you to break the bank.
Yankee pot roast is American comfort food at its finest. The tender beef and vegetables, cooked in the juices of the meat, are perfect for cold winter nights when you need something hearty. Pot roast has long been a staple of restaurant menus, and if you’re looking for diner food in Denver, you’re bound to run into this dish.
Yankee pot roast originated in New England, where there are plenty of cold nights. The dish is economical by design; it uses a tough, fatty cut of beef such as chuck, brisket or bottom round. These cuts contain enough fat to stand up to the long cooking process, as well as connective tissue that contains gelatin, which melts over time and makes the meat tender, as well as add body to the gravy. Inexpensive vegetables such as onions, celery, carrots, turnips, and potatoes are the traditional accompaniments to Yankee pot roast.
An essential part of making Yankee pot roast is to first brown the meat very well all over. This browning process creates the Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugar. The browning of the meat brings a great deal of flavor, as well as color, to the dish. After browning, liquid is added to the pot and the meat is cooked very slowly over a period of several hours. This cooking method is called braising. The vegetables are added to the pot later so they do not over-cook. Various herbs and spices can be added, as well as ingredients such as tomato paste, wine or beer. The result of these humble ingredients and long hours in the oven is a dish of meltingly tender meat and rich, flavorful gravy. It’s no wonder that Yankee pot roast has been gracing tables across the country for so long!