Make a basic beef pot roast with this vintage James Beard recipe (1964)

Vintage pot roast recipe

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.


Take a look at this a delicious vintage recipe for a basic beef pot roast — and you know it will be good, because it’s how James Beard would have prepared it back in the ’60s!

The term “pot roast” is, strictly speaking, somewhat misleading. Actually, it is not a roast, but rather a piece of meat, poultry or game braised in a pot on top of the stove or in the oven.

The pot is usually covered, but sometimes part of the cooking is done without a cover. A pot roast always includes some liquid. This may be liquid from added vegetables and seasonings or broth, wine, cream, water or tomato juice. A few pot roasts call for large amounts of liquid — these are really boiled dishes.

As a pot roast should be cooked slowly for some time, this is an excellent way to use the less tender cuts of meat. Old fowl and game birds are pot roasted to bring out the flavor and, at the same time, to tenderize them.

Pot roast cooking equipment ideas from 1964

Be cautious in pot roasting American meats. Most cuts, even the less tender, are marbled with fat and not as tough as European meats. Although they need time, they do not call for the many hours of cooking given in older recipes or recipes from Europe.

The type of meat you’re cooking and its temperature also affect timing. Prime grade meat will not take as long to cook as choice or good grade. Meat that has been standing at room temperature does not require as much cooking as a cut that has just been taken from the refrigerator.

The type of pot you use will also influence the cooking time. Heavy cast aluminum takes longer than iron, for example, yet enameled iron or pottery does not cook food as fast as very heavy tinned copper.

Hence it is impossible to give definite cooking times for the recipes that follow. You must test the meat and use your own judgment.

James Beard style delicious pot roast recipe from the 60s

Basic beef pot roast recipe

Any meat pot roast will gain flavor if you add a calf’s foot, pig’s foot or veal knuckle to the pan. Pork skin cut into small rounds and added to the pot makes a richer sauce. Chicken pot roasts are more flavorful if made with a veal knuckle.

Many of these dishes are improved if made a day in advance. Skim off the excess fat before reheating. Allowing the pot roast to stand overnight gives the meat and seasonings a chance to mellow and blend.

ALSO TRY: Apple & spice roast: A retro recipe for lamb, beef or pork

Vintage pot roast recipe

Basic beef pot roast, vintage James Beard style

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours


  • 4-5-pound piece of beef rump, chuck or round
  • Flour
  • Several pieces of beef fat
  • 1 onion stuck with 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 cup broth or water
  • 6 carrots
  • 10 small white onions
  • 2 turnips
  • Beurre manié


  1. Rub the roast with flour.
  2. Try out the beef fat in a heavy braising pot.
  3. Brown the meat on all sides in the hot fat.
  4. When it is well colored, add the onion, seasonings and liquid and reduce the heat.
  5. Cover the pot and simmer on top of the stove, or in a 250 (F) to 300 (F) oven, for 2 hours.
  6. Add the vegetables and test the meat for tenderness.
  7. Continue cooking until the meat is done and the vegetables cooked through.
  8. If the vegetables are done before the meat, remove them to a hot dish and keep warm until ready to serve.
  9. When the meat is done, place it on a hot platter.
  10. Skim the excess fat from the pan juices and taste for seasoning.
  11. If you like a thick sauce, stir in beurre manié (small balls of butter and flour kneaded together) and cook and stir until the sauce is smooth.


Serve this pot roast with boiled or baked potatoes and sliced tomatoes or a good coleslaw. Beer is an excellent accompaniment.

Several pieces of beef fat can be substituted for 4 tablespoons butter and 4 tablespoons oil.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1222Total Fat: 79gSaturated Fat: 32gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 37gCholesterol: 337mgSodium: 1027mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 103g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

How to serve leftover pot roast

Braised meats make good cold cuts for lunch or supper or for sandwiches. They are also tasty made into a salad with cold potatoes, hard-cooked eggs, tomatoes, onions and greens.

Diced meat, combined with potatoes and onions, makes a delicious hash. Add some of the sauce or gravy to moisten the mixture and cook it down in a heavy skillet until it is well blended, hot and crisply browned.

Ground cold pot roast combined with seasonings and blended with mayonnaise or sour cream is a flavorful sandwich filler.

Braised chicken or game birds are excellent served cold; or the meat may be diced and mixed with mayonnaise and seasonings as a salad.

MORE: 6 savory vintage recipes for Boeuf Bourguignon/Beef Burgundy (1970s)

PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest. Thanks for visiting and for supporting a small business! 🤩 


You might also like...

The fun never ends:

Comments on this story

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Recipe