Pot roast has long been a traditional go-to meal for family dinners because long, slow braising turns a tough, less expensive cut of meat into a savory feast of tender beef swimming in aromatic juices. This luscious dish can be dressed up or down depending on how it is served, and especially by what side dishes you serve with it.
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Classic American Pot Roast Sides
The accompaniments for traditional Yankee pot roast are as no-nonsense as the name suggests. Potatoes, carrots and sometimes peas are thrown into the pot near the end of cooking, allowing them to add flavor while soaking up the beef juices as they gently soften. The later in the process you toss the vegetables into the pot, the crisper and fresher they taste, though you do want to make sure the potatoes have time to cook through.
Alternative Vegetable Suggestions
Root vegetables generally go well with the mild, saucy flavor of pot roast. Turnips, rutabagas and parsnips are all assertive enough to stand up to the beef without overwhelming it. These can be cooked separately or cleaned, peeled, sliced into hearty chunks and added to the pot near the end of the cooking time. Add a bit of Asian flair to your pot roast by seasoning it with a splash of sake and soy sauce. Sprinkle in ginger and serve the meat with lightly cooked snap pea pods, bean sprouts, green onions and water chestnuts. Asparagus works well with pot roast, too, does is a crisp, green salad. Any vegetable can work with pot roast as long as you time the cooking to bring out the best of its flavor, texture and color.
Pasta and Grains
Pot roast makes its own gravy, making it irresistible when served over buttered egg noodles or rice. Add a spoonful of tomato paste and a splash of red wine when cooking the roast and serve it over polenta for a simple and hearty Italian meal. Make a rich mushroom gravy by reducing the drippings with a little bit of dry sherry and seasoning them with cracked black pepper and sea salt. Stir in browned, sliced mushrooms and chopped spinach. Serve over brown rice for a healthy and delicious meal. Couscous also works with pot roast, whether you cook the roast traditionally with salt, pepper and red wine or flavor it more exotically with cumin, curry powder, turmeric, paprika and cardamom.
Breads and Dumplings
Down South biscuits get served with just about everything. The flaky, golden goodness of a freshly baked biscuit rounds out a dinner of pot roast and hot, spicy greens. Corn bread also goes well with pot roast, though it's not as good for sopping up the gravy as biscuits or sliced bread. Flavor your pot roast with vinegar and serve it over the tiny German dumplings called spaetzle. Add stewed tomatoes, Italian seasonings and red wine and serve it with gnocchi for an Italian feast. Flour or potato dumplings are sturdy enough to stand up to a pot roast's flavor while being mild enough not to steal its spotlight.