Orange-Spiced Pot Roast (Oklahoma, 1970s adapted)

Orange-Spiced Pot Roast is an international approach to the traditional Yankee pot roast.  The recipe comes to me by way of Adventures in Food, a 1970s cookbook from my parents’ Oklahoma congregation.  It’s a surprisingly adventuresome dish for this cookbook, where most of the main dish recipes are practical weeknight meals.   Like most 1970s cookbooks, the recipes tend to play it safe with the contemporary American palate.  Orange-Spiced Pot Roast does neither.  It’s a special occasion Sunday recipe, which the recipe’s author describes as having “real South American flavor” and “elegant enough for informal dinner parties.”   This same author is responsible for several other off-the-beaten-path recipes in the same cookbook.

Orange-Spiced Pot Roast is a beautiful dish for autumn or winter, when domestic oranges are fresh and at their best.  It makes the whole house smell like potpourri while it’s cooking and the fragrant spices give it a comfort food feel like a good Mediterranean Stew or a bowl of piping hot pho.  Give yourself plenty of time – the surest way to ruin a pot roast it to take it out before it’s meltaway tender – but beyond that this is a recipe that even a novice chef can pull off.

I highly recommend the recipe as is – it is warm, rich, and satisfying – but I’ve adapted the recipe to suit my family’s tastes and, also, made a couple of substitutions for convenience.  For example, I’ve omitted the canned mandarin oranges in favor of fresh satsuma mandarins.  There’s nothing wrong with using canned oranges, but when I was shopping I remembered a half-used bag of mandarins sitting on the counter at home.  The rinds were starting to harden and I knew they’d be shriveled in a week, but I also knew they’d still be juicy and delicious on the inside.    I’ve also substituted orange marmalade for honey.  I just happened to have a jar of marmalade with exactly two tablespoons left, and the only honey I had on hand was a local variety with a strong floral scent to it.

The only change that I’ve made which I see as a significant improvement is replacing the small amount of chopped onion with a hearty helping of coarsely chopped mirepoix.  It really seems to round out the overall flavor without distracting from the orange and warming spices that distinguish this from your average Sunday pot roast. 

Serve with basmati rice or couscous to soak up all of the delicious jus and glazed carrots.  Enjoy!


Orange-spiced Pot Roast

Orange-Spiced Pot Roast (Oklahoma, 1970s adapted)

  • Preparation: 30 min
  • Cooking: 4 h
  • Ready in: 4 h 30 min


Prepare your ingredients:

  1. Pat the roast dry with a paper towel and season liberally with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 275 F.
  2. Coarsely chop onion, celery, and carrot to form your mirepoix. You should have 3-4 cups total, with roughly equal amounts of all three vegetables.
  3. Using a knife, peel the tangerines or mandarins being careful to remove all of the bitter white pith. Slice into 1/2 inch chunks, removing the white pithy core.

Sear the roast:

  1. Heat neutral oil in a large oven-safe dutch oven over high heat and sear 3-5 minutes per side to form a dark brown crust on all surfaces.
  2. Remove the roast from the dutch oven. Add the mirepoix and stir-fry 3-5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the dutch oven, until the carrots become a bright orange and the onions start to sweat.
  3. Place the roast back in the dutch oven atop the mirepoix. Cover and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

For the slow cook

  1. Remove the roast from the oven. There should be a significant amount of liquid. Add the orange sections, marmalade, and spices and mix well, spooning the mixture over the top of the roast.
  2. Return to the oven and cook another 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours until the roast is fork tender and slices easily.

For the final preparation

  1. Remove the roast to a serving platter and slice across the grain in 1/2 inch thick portions. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  2. Add the tomato sauce and garlic to the cooking liquid - stir and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick. Spoon the "gravy" over top of the sliced pot roast and serve. Serve any remaining gravy in a bowl at the table.

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