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Making the Traditional Sunday Roast for the not so Traditional and Post-Modern Lifestyle

Updated on June 19, 2008

Making the Traditional Sunday Roast for the not so Traditional and Post-Modern Lifestyle

Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, where the largest fraction of diversity was a distinction between the Lutherans and the Catholics, Sunday was considered church day and pretty much everything from the main street bar to the corner grocery store was closed. This meant that people went to church and spent the rest of the day with family and friends. My favorite thing about Sundays when I was a kid, was coming home from church to the smell of a pot roast in the oven and how the aroma clouded the air and seemed to have an affect of sedation on even the unruliest of members of the family clan.

Today, I have two kids of my own and live in a much faster paced suburb of a major city where nothing really closes on Sunday. Church often gets squeezed into a calendar loaded with a plethora of activities such as soccer and weekend outings, and extended families live in other states and sometimes other countries. By the Sunday afternoon or evening, I often find myself exhausted and craving the comfort of knowing what its like to have both my feet on the ground and wanting to appreciate that I have a roof over my head, a family to love and be loved by, and friends which make life easier to bear and fun to share.

A few year ago, after relocating cross country and miles away from my parents and siblings, I began to tie this craving for comfort to other cravings like pot roast with roasted vegetables, roast beef and mashed potatoes, and slow roasted rosemary chicken.

So one Saturday morning while shopping at Costco, I purchased a pot roast, a bag of onions, and a massive bag of cut carrots and decided I was going to reintroduce the “Sunday Roast” back into my life.

I had never prepared a roast myself, and my first thoughts were laden with worry about how much time and work this was all going to be. From memories of my mother slaving away in the kitchen for hours, a massive dinner table setting with people gathered, passing and grabbing serving bowls and a huge pile of dishes to clean well into the night, I had the impression that this was going to be quite an endeavor.

I was determined to getting the job done however, knowing that the smell of roasting meat and the memories it would bring back was well worth it. So when I got home, I unpacked the groceries, took out the roasting pan my grandmother had given me as a wedding gift (it was still in the box), and called my mother.

“How do I make roast?” I asked.

She said, “Well, you just stick it in the oven and bake it.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

So, taking a “fly by the seat of my pants” attitude and shaking my head with disbelief at the skimpy piece of knowledge that had just been passed down to me, I decided to go for it. And with very little effort, and four hours or waiting with anticipation. The product was everything I remembered it to be from my childhood. Beef that seemed to melt in your mouth, savory roasted vegetables topped with a scrumptious aroma that filled the entire house with warmth and comforting memories. Plus, with all the oohs and awes from my husband and kids, the satisfaction that I accomplished something amazing!

While preparing this meal was not as simple as just buying a chunk of meat and sticking it in the oven as my mother had said, it was surprisingly simple and easy to fit into even the busiest of our weekends. Here is how I like to prepare a roast.

Prep-time (not including the shopping): 15 minutes

Cooking time: 3 to 4 hours (at 350 degrees)

This is not something you can have ready last-minute, but is low maintenance, low cost and extremely tasty!....And if not eaten that day, is great for left overs for a busy week.

Items you’ll need:

An Oven

A Roasting Pan

A Pot Roast (or Chuck Roast)

Pre-Washed/Cut Carrots (add to prep time if you need to peel and cut your veggies)

1 or 2 Onions

2 to 4 Potatoes

Oil (optional)

Beef Broth or a Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup

Red Wine (optional)



Garlic Salt

Other veggies that I like or add on occasion and depending on my meat choice are turnips, sweet potatoes, cabbage and squash. But the above combo of celery, carrots, onions and potatoes is a classic and tastes great.


1. To start with, I rub a tiny bit of oil around the edges of my pan.

(And to be completely honest, I don’t know if this is necessary or not. It just makes my veggies not stick to the sides of the pan and I find it makes my pan very easy to clean later).

2. Place the meat in the center of the pan.

3. Season the Meat

I use salt, pepper and a little garlic salt.

4. Prep Veggies.

I chop my onion, potatoes and carrots into larger bit size chunks.

5. Place veggies in pan, tucking them evenly around the roast.

6. Add a can of broth or cream soup (smear with a spatula)

7. Add a can of water or red wine.

8. Cover the pan.

The idea here is to bake the meat for a long period of time without drying it out. So cover the pan with foil and seal the edges, or if you have a tight sealing lid you may choose to use that. I have a roaster with a lid, but for this recipe I use foil to ensure that no moisture leaks out. The juicier the better! Note: if you don’t have foil and your lid does not have a tight seal, you can add a cup of water about half way through the cooking time.

9. Place pan in pre-heated oven and bake for 3 - 4 hours at 350 degrees.

10. Remove from oven, carefully remove the foil (avoiding burst of steam).

Meat should chip/flake apart easily with a fork. (If not: make sure there is enough water or broth in pan, re-seal and place in oven for longer baking time.)

11. Serve and eat, or save for later!

This recipe is a few more steps than my Mother’s, but is very quick to prepare. I have found that this recipe is one of the easiest and most awed over meals my family enjoys. On weekends, I often prep it in the morning and we pop it in the oven at 350 (or a lower temperature depending on our outing time) just before we head out for a family adventure. Whether headed off on a family trip to the Zoo, Church, visiting the Grandparents, or attending swim and soccer lessons, we always enjoy walking through the door to the smell of Sunday dinner when we return. Enjoy!


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    • Dottie1 profile image


      10 years ago from MA, USA

      This was one of my favorite Sunday dinners also growing up. I brown the roast and then throw it all in the slow cooker. You can't go wrong. It's always juicy and melts in your mouth. Thanks for the memories.

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 

      10 years ago from New Brunswick

      Now that takes me back to my childhood.


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