So Anne thought that this is one that needed to be blogged because perhaps there are people who are wishing they had paid closer attention when their mothers (or in my home father) were preparing this staple of Mormon Sunday evening cuisine.
It is a very simple dish to prepare, but takes time.
There are of course a million ways to do it, but I will set forth some basics to help you out.
First of all--the meat. A chuck roast is what I have in this picture. It has more marbling (fat running throught the meat) and yields a more tender, fall-apart-with-a-fork finished product than a rump roast does. Rump roasts are good too, just different.
Basically, all that you really need to do is salt the roast liberally, then throw it in a dutch oven with the lid on, or some other oven-safe, coverable vessel and let the oven work for 4-5 hours at 300 degrees or so.
That said, the way I like to do it is to brown the meat first in the pot on the stovetop. Cover the bottom of the pot with a little oil, then brown all sides of the roast. Make sure to get it a nice deep brown--this will enhance the flavor and help lay the foundation for a good gravy.
After the roast is browned, I remove it and deglaze the pan (add some liquid and use a spatula or whisk to scrape all the little browned bits off the pan )with a little brandy or sherry (water or beef broth would work too--1/2 cup or so) and line the bottom of the pan with two thickly-sliced onions and a handful of peeled, quartered carrots. I put the roast on top of the veggies, cover the pot, and toss it in the oven (are my two-year-old's nursery rhymes affecting my vernacular?) for 4 to 5 hours at 300 degrees.
Now on to the gravy. I find that one roast never yields all the drippings I need to make enough gravy for all the mashed potatoes I need to accompany a whole roast. So I add about 1 1/2 cups of beef broth. Gravy made entirely from broth tastes like the stuff at Hometown Buffet, but with the veggie-flavored drippings, the gravy still turns out very homemade tasting. Remove the roast and the veggies and add the broth to the pot. Bring it up to a boil.
Put 1 cup of milk in a Mason jar, then add 3 heaping tbsp of flour, put the lid on, then shake it as hard as you possibly can until you are convinced there could not be any flour lumps left.
Add half of the mixture and whisk it in and bring it back to a boil. You can never tell how much effect a thickener will have until it boils. Then gradually add more until it's as thick as you like it. Taste it and adjust the seasonings.
I'll leave the mashed potatoes up to you with just this one suggestion: salt them. If the taters are properly seasoned, the gravy has less work to do. Leaving your potatoes without salt is like baking a cake without sugar and expecting the frosting to pick up all the slack.
Feel free to ask any questions or leave tips on how you like to do it.