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Recipe of the Month – February

February 17, 2011
photo by James Carrier

Merlot Pot Roast with Horseradish Smashed Potatoes

from Sunset Magazine, Oct. 2000
The winter months call for comfort foods. Coming home to the smell of a cooked roast makes the mouth water, and this recipe is no exception. With the ease of a crock pot, this dinner finds itself ready  when you walk in the door. Complete the meal with a salad and smashed potatoes. If you don’t have time to smash the potatoes, cut them into chunks, cover with olive oil, salt and pepper (even red pepper for some kick), then set in the broiler until golden brown. Flip for a few more minutes and serve. Although this recipe calls to brown the meat which adds to its texture, it is not necessary if time does not permit. Just put the raw meat on top of the vegetables. You can substitute mini carrots instead of chopping.
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings


  • 1 tied fat-trimmed boned beef chuck roast (3 to 3 1/2 lb.)
  • Fresh-ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 3 carrots (about 1/4 lb. each), rinsed and peeled
  • 1 onion (1/2 lb.), peeled and chopped
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 cup Merlot or other dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup canned tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Horseradish smashed potatoes (below)
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 to 2 cups watercress sprigs, rinsed and crisped (optional)
  • Salt


1. Rinse beef, pat dry, and sprinkle generously all over with fresh-ground pepper. Melt butter in a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat. When hot, add beef and brown well on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. 2. Meanwhile, cut carrots into sticks about 3/8 inch thick and 2 inches long. In a 4 1/2-quart or larger electric slow-cooker, combine carrots, onion, celery, garlic, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Set beef on vegetables; add drippings. In a small bowl, mix wine and tomato paste; pour over meat and vegetables. 3. Cover and cook until beef is very tender when pierced, 8 to 9 hours on low, 5 to 6 hours on high. If possible, turn meat over halfway through cooking. 4. With 2 slotted spoons, transfer meat to a platter; keep warm. Skim and discard any fat from cooking liquid. Turn cooker to high. In a small bowl, blend cornstarch with 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water; pour into cooker and stir often until sauce is bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes. 5. With a slotted spoon, lift vegetables from cooker and arrange beside meat. Spoon horseradish smashed potatoes onto platter; sprinkle with parsley. Garnish platter with watercress. Spoon sauce over meat. Slice meat and serve with vegetables, potatoes, and sauce, adding salt to taste.

Horseradish Smashed Potatoes

Add chives for appearances
Yield: Makes 6 to 7 cups (serving size: 6 to 8 servings)


  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 2 1/2 quarts water
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or fat-skimmed chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish


1. Scrub and peel 3 to 3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes; cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Put them in a 4- to 5-quart pan with 2 1/2 quarts water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes mash easily when pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. 2. When potatoes are done, heat 1 to 1 1/2 cups half-and-half (light cream) or fat-skimmed chicken broth with 2 tablespoons butter or margarine in a microwave-safe container in a microwave oven at full power (100%) just until steaming (don’t boil), 1 to 3 minutes. Or warm in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan over medium heat. 3 .While cream heats, drain potatoes and mash in pan with a mixer or potato masher until almost smooth. Add cream, a portion at a time, and mix until potatoes have the consistency desired. Stir in salt, pepper, and 1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish to taste. Mound beside Merlot pot roast or scrape into a bowl.

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