Dinner In A Bag (again)

Pot Roast cooked in a plastic bag sounds crazy right? But that was the only kind of pot roast I knew as a child.

Cooking in an oven bag was this 1970’s concept where you place your cut of meat, vegetables and seasoning and a little water into an oven safe bag and place that into a pan/dish and put the whole thing in the oven. After 2 hours or so you have a magically deliciously “bag’o pot roast!”

This isn’t the first time I have done this – I exposed this back in 2011 as well.

There is remarkably little information on the great internet about this ( here , here and here -that’s it!) and I am not really sure when “Gordon Lawry” invented it but I think it was a long time ago considering he was paid 15 cents for his invention!

Anyway don’t knock it until you try it! It’s the original “sheet pan” dinner and it’s delicious! (maybe add some green veggies in the side to “heathy” it up!)


READ THE DIRECTIONS AND FOLLOW THEM but here is a couple tips: If you lose the ties supplied, cut a thin strip off the mouth of the bag, and use that to tie it with. ( don’t use some other tie as it might melt!)

Don’t use where there’s a danger of the bag touching any of the heating elements, thereby melting, spilling out its contents and causing a grease fire.


Dinner For Dinner

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may already know that my husband and I share a common love of “dinner for breakfast.”

But lots of times we just have “dinner for dinner” and this basic pot roast is one of his favorites. (mine too!) Simple and tasty – this can be made in one pot and put into a slow oven until you are ready to eat and if you are using one of those heavy cast iron dutch ovens like I do, it will stay hot for a long time in case you have family or friends wandering thru at different times to be fed.

Over the years I have picked up a few tips to really help make the dish shine.

1. Add lots of seasoning to the meat and make sure to brown it. I really think being generous with your spices and seasoning sets up the meat for not only a flavorful crust but tasty “au jus.”

2.Sauté those carrots. Take the time to really cook those carrots a bit along with the onions – it makes a difference!

carrots and onions

For the record… this picture was taken as soon as I threw in the carrots, so they were still raw, but they did get a nice saute in the pan!

3. Potatoes on the side please!

I used to put the potatoes right in with the roast but they were never as good as I wanted them to be, so when a TV cook from Oklahoma once suggested serving the pot roast on a mound of yummy, rich mashed potatoes, I have been doing it that way ever since! (plus this gives opportunity for extra flavor – like “garlic mashed potatoes!”)

dinner plate
My husband made these delicious mashed potatoes!

Production Notes

My basic spice blend for the meat contains sea salt, course ground black pepper, garlic powder and celery seed. In addition to this I can change the flavor profile depending on what else I add. For example…ground cumin, paprika and a tiny bit of cinnamon for an “exotic” pot roast. Or  crushed red pepper flakes for a “spicy” version.  Let your imagination run wild.

My basic “go to” for liquid is water mixed with a generous amount of Worcestershire sauce to de-glaze the pan and become the cooking liquid for the pot roast meat and veggies. But you can use stock, cider, beer or wine too. Each of this will add/change the flavor profile.

I usually add a small can of tomato paste (or a couple squirts from the tube) to the pan after I have browned the meat and veggies but before I de-glaze to add a real depth of flavor to the pot roast liquid and because I love tomatoes!

If you want a thicker consistency for the “Au Jus” than add a tiny bit of cornstarch or an arrowroot slurry about an hour before serving.

Dinner “In a Bag”

This past Thanksgiving I was listening to one of those call-in satellite radio programs where they were giving turkey advice. One of the callers commented how her husband cooks the turkey in an oven bag. You know one of those oven roaster bags that your mom used back in the 1970’s. Anyway she swore it came out moist and delicious. I would expect that.  She also swore that it was browned and crispy on top. I didn’t expect that and neither did the radio show. The radio show (from the Martha Stewart empire) discussed the possibility of re-visiting the whole “oven bag” idea for turkey cooking.  It got me thinking about it too.

So this week when I was on a vacation day from work and wondering what to make for dinner I decided to produce the classic “all-American pot roast dinner in the oven bag from my youth.” I figured if this went well I would try out the turkey in it too.

I wanted to get ahead of the trendsetters and be ready for next year!

I had used the slow-cooker liners that Reynolds invented recently and I find them to work really well. Even though the slow-cooker liners and the oven bags are made of the same material, Reynolds does recommend you use the right product for the right application.

First the directions recommend you shake a tablespoon of flour inside the bag. I didn’t remember that from the 1970’s but I did it anyway. Then I put some peeled and halved potatoes, carrots and onions into the bag. Next I added a 3.5 lb beef roast (cheap cut) into the bag. I had already coated the roast in my favorite “English Prime Rib Rub” blend from Penzeys Spices and garlic powder. I was hoping to add a bit of class to my inexpensive cut of beef!

The directions call for 2/3 cups of water to be added. I just used a 14.5 oz can of low sodium beef broth. I did not add the recommended additional flour to thicken the gravy so I had more of an “au jus” at the end. Worked great! The bottom part of the roast (in the liquid) was all moist and delicious. The top part of the roast (above the liquid) was crusty on the outside and moist on the inside.

Next time: the turkey! or maybe a small chicken!