The Earthy Gravy That Sets Filipino Style Pot Roast Apart From The Rest

classic pot roast offers meaty comfort with relatively little effort. Still, the meat and potatoes routine can feel a little tired after a while. With that in mind, consider this your sign to give this tried-and-true meal an international glow-up.

For a flavorful twist on the humdrum pot roast, head to the island nation of the Philippines, a country with numerous culinary influences blending into one delicious identity. Here, Filipinos consider the pot roast worthy of a special occasion, often serving it on Christmas Eve, known locally as Noche Buena. Beyond Christmas, Filipinos are also known to serve this beef dish buffet-style at large gatherings, like family reunions and weddings. But what exactly makes this pot roast so celebration-worthy?

For locals, the secret of the dish lies in the unconventional sauce they pair with it: a rich and creamy mushroom gravy. The combination of epically tender beef with a luxurious and earthy mushroom sauce sounds like just the thing to jump-start your lifeless old pot roast recipe.

How to make a Filipino pot roast

Before we can get to the crave-able mushroom gravy, we first need to tackle the pot roast element of this Filipino dish. Choosing the best beef cut for the job is a great place to start. Chuck, brisket, and bottom-round beef cuts are all large, tougher cuts of meat that melt into tenderness during a long roasting period. After selecting the beef cut, you'll need little more than water, salt, pepper, and a big pot for braising.

First, you'll cut your meat into more manageable chunks. Next, in order to pack a bit of caramelized flavor, you'll sear the beef on all sides for about 8 to 10 minutes. Once that's done, generously season the beef with salt and pepper and then pour in enough water to fully cover the chunks. At this point, you can also stir in any other aromatics you wish, like fresh herbs or chopped alliums. Simmer the roast for at least 2 hours, allowing ample time for the meat to tenderize. Once the meat's texture is to your liking, slice the chunks into thinner pieces in preparation for the big beautiful mushroom gravy.

How to make a Filipino gravy

Given the popularity of this dish, it's unsurprising that there are numerous ways to make Filipino mushroom gravy. Some recipes call for fresh button mushrooms, while others go for canned. A few call for a can of cream of mushroom soup, and still others call for making everything completely from scratch.

No matter what specific ingredients are listed, most recipes begin with searing mushrooms with a bit of chopped onion and garlic. Once they sweat off their excess liquid and begin to caramelize, you can begin adding in the sauce elements, be it a can of cream of mushroom soup or a combination of beef stock, cream, and flour that you'll use to thicken up the consistency. Much like the seasoning of the pot roast, Filipino cooks keep the flavors simple here, only adding salt and pepper so that the mushrooms truly shine.

After you've made the gravy, a few recipes will suggest you add the sliced beef into the gravy and simmer a bit so it can absorb those rich mushroom flavors. Others will treat the gravy as more of a final garnish, topping off the plated pot roast with a generous ladle. Either way you choose, it's recommended to serve your dish with plenty of rice or mashed potatoes so diners can sop up every last bit of that delicious mushroom gravy.