Braised Pot Roast with Wild Mushrooms

Recipe by Karo Thom of Alcyone Café & Catering in Salem

“In its original form, the recipe evolved from a gift of a package of wonderful dried wild mushrooms. The smell of them was so earthy and rich, I was reminded of some roasts I had eaten in Belgium. So I created a version that is reminiscent of my Belgian experience and my childhood Sunday pot roast dinners. I have made it several times and fine-tuned it for a Chemeketa Viticulture class with Bob Sogge where we had to pair food and wine and provide a recipe. This is the final version stemming from that class. One response from a dinner guest was ‘Heaven in a dish.’” —Karo Thom, chef/owner of Alcyone Café & Catering


5          pounds chuck roast, completely trimmed of outside fat

2          yellow onions, quartered and thick sliced

6–12    cloves garlic, sliced

1          pound diced, lean bacon or pancetta

1–2      quarts low-sodium beef stock

2          cups dried wild mushrooms (porcini, boletus, oyster, shiitake, black, etc.)

*          roux (4 tablespoons flour mixed with 4 tablespoons butter)


1. Sauté bacon in 8-quart shallow stock or roasting pan. Sauté until just crisp and remove from pan. Pour off all but 2 to 3 tablespoons bacon fat. Sauté onion and garlic in pan; remove when transparent. Add roast to pan and sear on both sides. When seared, remove from pan and add 1 quart stock, bring to boil, scraping up browned bits on bottom and sides of pan. Return roast, bacon, onion and garlic to pan. Cover roast with remaining stock to about 1 inch above roast. Add dried mushrooms. Cover and place in 350°F oven. 2. Check roast after 1 hour, and add more stock if needed to keep roast covered. Roast approximately 3 hours, or until meat is very tender and can be easily pulled apart with a fork. 3. After three hours or so, take lid off pan and place back in oven for 45 minutes to reduce stock and glaze the top of the roast. 4. Remove from oven and remove roast to a warm serving platter. Place roasting pan on burner on medium heat and add roux to thicken sauce. Cover roast with sauce and serve extra on side. Serve with oven-roasted winter vegetables and green salad with balsamic vinegar. Yields 10 servings.


“Serve with a Pinot Noir with dark fruit notes. It is also good with some of the bigger reds from the Umpqua Valley, like Abacela Tempranillo.” —Karo Thom


Karo Thom started cooking with her maternal grandmother when she was quite young. She started with from-scratch baking of cookies, cakes, sour cream twists, baking powder biscuits and more. She then went on to helping her grandmother in commercial kitchens during summers in high school.

College found her in an art studio in the San Francisco Bay area about the time Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse. “It was an introduction to an entirely different way of looking at food,” Thom said. Since that time, Karo has traveled, eaten and cooked in Europe, Japan, Central America and the Caribbean, as well as all over the U.S.

About a decade ago she moved to Oregon from Washington and took over Salem’s oldest diner. She opened Alcyone Café this January with emphasis on fresh, sustainable ingredients with the ability to cater to local individuals and businesses in addition to daily breakfast and lunch. Alcyone features Oregon and Washington wines and next year will begin doing special winemakers’ dinners.

Alcyone Café is located at 315 High St. S.E., Salem. Hours are Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information, call 503-362-5696. 

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