Pot roast, soup: 4 cold weather dishes to celebrate the last lingering days of winter

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

Though it's hard to imagine, the winter weather will soon be a distant memory. When it's warm out, you might not want to dig into a steaming bowl of pot roast or slurp on noodles. So keep your roasting pans and your simmering pots handy for a few more weekends and celebrate the last of the cold weather with these dreamy, comforting dishes. 

Anne Byrn’s Braised Pot Roast with Sweet Onion Gravy

Perfect pot roast

This pot roast cooks low and slow at 300 degrees. You can even cook it longer at 275 degrees if your oven tends to run hot. It takes about 3-3½ hours for a 4-pound pot roast to cook. Go ahead and peel the potatoes, carrots, any root vegetable you like, and cover with water to prevent darkening. You’ll add those to the pot one hour before the roast is done. And when it’s done, the beef will be fork-tender, the veggies soft and the onions, juices and flour will have mixed and mingled to form their own gravy. Recipe courtesy of Anne Byrn.

Serves: 8

Ingredients

1 (4-pound) boneless beef chuck roast

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Seasoning salt of your choice (optional)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 large sweet onions, peeled and cut in half crosswise

4 cups roughly chopped carrots

4 cups roughly chopped potatoes, parsnips, or turnips

Instructions

Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Pat the roast dry with paper towels. Place the flour in a shallow dish and stir in salt, pepper and seasoning salt to taste. Dredge the roast on all sides in the seasoned flour.

Heat the oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or over heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add the roast and brown on each side until well seared, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the roast to a plate.

Place the onion halves cut-side down in the bottom of the pot. Place the roast on top of the onions, and cover the pot.

Bake for 2 hours. Add the carrots and potatoes, and spoon the juices over the vegetables to baste. Return the pot, covered, to the oven and continue to bake until the beef is very tender and the juices have thickened, 1 to 1½ more hours.

To serve, remove the roast from the pot and slice it into thick servings. Arrange slices of beef on plates with the carrots, onions and potatoes. Spoon the pan juices over the top.

Cider-braised pork shoulder

Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder

In winter, sweet apple cider makes a lovely vehicle for deglazing those stubborn brown bits from the bottom of the pot, and it goes perfectly with a hearty pork shoulder. After the pork has finished cooling, reducing the braising liquid allows the apple cider flavor to come through even more.

Serves: 6 to 8

Total cooking time: 4 hours and 10 minutes

Ingredients

1 (2- to 3-pound) boneless pork shoulder, cut into pieces about the size of your fist

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

5 cloves garlic

3 bay leaves and 3 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine

2 cups apple cider

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup whole-grain mustard

4 cups chicken stock

Cooked grits or polenta, for serving

Chopped chives, for serving

Instructions

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Heat a large cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Liberally season the pork on all sides with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable oil to the hot pot. In batches if necessary, add the pork to the pot and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Be sure not to overcrowd the pot. Once the pork is browned, transfer to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pork, if needed. 

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, garlic and herbs. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the apple cider, vinegar and mustard, bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and return pork to the pot. Return the liquid to a simmer, cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Bake until the pork is tender, about 3 hours. Let the pork cool to room temperature in its braising liquid.

Coq Au Vin

Braised chicken with noodles

Based very loosely on coq au vin, this recipe calls for gently simmering chicken in red wine with bacon and aromatic vegetables, then serving it over buttered pasta. If you don’t want to spend time peeling and blanching fresh pearl onions, it’s totally fine to substitute frozen pearl onions instead. Alternately, you could serve this with rice or with salad greens for a low-carb option.

Serves: 4

Total time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Ingredients

4 strips applewood-smoked bacon, diced

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stem and chopped

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, scrubbed and quartered

8 ounces pearl onions, blanched and peeled (see note)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup brandy

2 cups red wine, such as pinot noir

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Buttered egg noodles, for serving

Chopped Italian parsley, for serving

Instructions

Heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring constantly, until fat has rendered and bacon is crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate, leaving the bacon grease in the pot.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pot, skin-side-down, and cook until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the onion and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables have softened and the onion is translucent, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste has turned to a rusty color, about 2 to 4 minutes. Add the brandy and cook for 30 seconds.

Return the chicken and bacon to the pot and add the wine. Bring to a simmer and allow wine to reduce by about one quarter, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the broth, cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Roast until the chicken is tender and sauce has thickened slightly, about 45 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven and place on a burner over medium heat.

In a small bowl, use a fork to mash together the butter and flour to form a paste. Once the braising liquid comes to a simmer, stir in the butter mixture until fully incorporated. Continue to simmer until lightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve over buttered egg noodles, garnished with parsley.

Hearty vegetable soup

Southern Vegetable Soup

This hearty soup is perfect for a cool night at home. If you have extra rinds of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese lying around, throw them in the pot for a deeper, umami-laden flavor boost. Serve with crusty bread and butter on the side. If you'd like, you can use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.

Serves: 8 to 10

Total time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Ingredients

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 small head green cabbage, quartered, cored and thinly sliced

1 pound chopped collard greens

3 (14.5-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

6 cups vegetable broth

Parmesan rinds (optional)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme and rosemary, and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Stir in the cabbage and collards and cook until slightly wilted, 5 minutes. Add the peas, tomatoes, vegetable broth and Parmesan rinds, if using. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low. Continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender and the soup is flavorful, about 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.

Sign up for my newsletter here.

Reach me: mlunsford@southernkitchen.com