Updated December 27, 2020.
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This pot roast is inspired by my grandmother’s goulash, as is this beef stew. I had a hard time naming this recipe. It’s definitely a pot roast, but has some goulash-like qualities in the way it’s finished. Goulash is more of a stew, but this pot roast recipe is not quite a stew – but almost.
What is goulash? There are a few different types of goulash. This is recipe is based on a Hungarian goulash, which is similar to the one my grandmother makes. Hungarian goulash is stew-like and includes beef seasoned with paprika. Many people add other vegetables, such as carrots, celery, and potatoes. Some recipes include tomatoes or tomato paste. You’ll likely find most goulash recipes have some slight differences because this is a recipe with a long history. If you’re interested in culinary history, check out “The Humble Beginnings of Goulash” by Smithsonian Magazine. The American style goulash generally is more tomato-y and is very different from the Hungarian style. Many of the American goulash recipes use ground beef.
What if I don’t have a dutch oven? Can I make this in the slow cooker? I made this in my Le Creuset dutch oven, but you don’t necessarily need a dutch oven to make the recipe. Pretty much any large oven-safe pot will do, as long as it fits the beef. Make sure there is also enough room so the liquid doesn’t spill out when cooking. I don’t recommend using a slow cooker unless you switch out half of the wine for stock, as the wine won’t reduce in the slow cooker like it does in the oven. You’d also need to transfer the cooking liquid to the stovetop to finish making the sauce. If you’re in the market for a dutch oven, but don’t want to splurge on the Le Creuset, Lodge also makes very nice enameled cast iron dutch ovens. I compared the Lodge and Le Creuset dutch ovens here.
Continue reading after the recipe card for step-by-step photos and recipe notes.
Grandma’s Goulash Pot Roast
- 2½ to 2¾ lb top round roast
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 onion sliced thin
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bottle red wine
- 3 cups stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef)
- 4 carrots sliced, if sliced in advance keep in fridge in water
- 3 ribs celery sliced
- ¾ lb potatoes medium dice, if diced in advance keep in fridge in water to prevent browning
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup cold water
- Maggi liquid seasoning optional, to taste
- Spaetzle or egg noodles
- Preheat oven to 325°. Heat dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat.
- Combine all ingredients for the dry rub. Generously coat all sides of the beef with the dry rub (and use your hands so it sticks to the beef).
- Toss together the onions, 2 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tsp garlic powder. Once the dutch oven is hot, transfer the onions to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften.
- Move the onions to the side to make room for the beef. Place beef fat side down and cook for about 4 minutes, then flip and cook 4 minutes on the other side. Stir the onions occasionally while the beef is browning (onions will begin to caramelize).
- Remove beef from pot and set aside.
- Deglaze the pot: Pour 2 cups of the wine into the pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Turn off the heat on the stovetop, and return the beef to the pot. Add the rest of the wine. Add chicken stock until the beef is covered by half (you might not need all 3 cups, or you might need a little more depending on the size of your roast).
- Transfer the pot to the oven and cook with the lid on for 1½ hours.
- Remove the pot from the oven and carefully add the potatoes and carrots. Return the pot to the oven and cook for another hour.
- Remove the pot from the oven. Remove the roast from the pot and set aside, covered with foil.
- Stir together ¼ cup cornstarch and ¼ cup cold water. Heat dutch oven on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Slowly stream in the cornstarch mixture, stirring the liquid in the pot constantly. Boil for 1 minute, then reduce to low and cover with the lid. Stir occasionally.
- When the beef is cool enough to handle, hand shred the meat. Transfer the meat to the dutch oven and stir until it's incorporated.
- Serve over spaetzle or egg noodles cooked according to the package instructions. Add Maggi liquid seasoning to taste if desired.
Step-By-Step Photos & Recipe Notes
Preheat oven to 325°. Heat dutch oven or other large oven-safe pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat.
Combine all ingredients for the dry rub. Generously coat all sides of the beef with the dry rub (and use your hands so it sticks to the beef). Set aside.
Toss together the onions, 2 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tsp garlic powder. Once the dutch oven is hot, transfer the onions to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften.
Move the onions to the side to make room for the beef. Place beef fat side down.
Cook for about 4 minutes, then flip and cook 4 minutes on the other side. Stir the onions occasionally while the beef is browning (onions will begin to caramelize). You’ll have some burned bits in your pot. Don’t worry at all about those. That’s how the flavors develop, and we’ll get rid of them soon.
Remove beef from pot and set aside.
Deglaze the pot: Pour 2 cups of the wine into the pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
After that’s done, put the roast back in the pot. Add the rest of the bottle of wine, then enough stock to cover the roast by half. You might not need all of the stock the recipe calls for depending on the size and shape of the beef and pot.
What kind of stock to use? You can really use any stock to make this recipe. I’ve made it with chicken stock and vegetable stock. Vegetable stock is my go-to because I usually make it with vegetable scraps and keep it in the freezer.
The piece of beef I had was a bit wedge-shaped, so I covered most of the short side with the liquid. I didn’t want to cover it entirely on the short side because I wasn’t trying to poach or boil the meat. Next, transfer the roast to the oven and cook with the lid on for about an hour and a half.
Remove the roast from the oven. You’ll see that the liquid has started to reduce a bit, and the meat is starting to look really tasty. Carefully add the potatoes, carrots, and celery and return the pot to the oven. Cook with the lid on for another hour.
Remove the roast from the oven. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside, covered with foil. Combine the cornstarch and cold water. (You must use cold water or the sauce will not thicken!)
Place the pot on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Stream in the cornstarch and water mixture, stirring constantly. Cook at a boil for 1 minute, then reduce to low. The liquid will thicken as it continues to cook. Stir occasionally.
Once the meat is cool enough to handle, shred it with your hands and return the shredded pieces to the pot. Stir until the meat is well-incorporated.
What if the meat seems dry? Every time I make this recipe, I’m worried about that because the meat looks very dry when shredded. It’s a very forgiving recipe, and the sauce will completely negate any dryness.
Serve over spaetzle or egg noodles cooked according to package instructions. Season with Maggi liquid seasoning to taste, if desired.