Shoulder Roast with Garlic & Herbs

Last month I made my very first shoulder roast.  I was surprised half-way through, but a quick shift in plans landed me not only with a beautifully seared, tender roast, but the most flavorful gravy I have ever tasted to pour over top.  The issue was the garlic herb rub — when I tried to brown the roast while still covered with the rub, the garlic and herbs started to brown, then nearly burn, but the meat itself wasn’t searing.  I was able to scrape off the rub, save it for later and then brown the roast without the garlic; in this version, I’ve included instructions to remove the rub before browning so you don’t have to do so much quick maneuvering!

Joy of Cooking suggests different roasting temperatures for different cuts of meat.  Since the shoulder roast is particularly lean, it recommends cooking it at a mere 250F after searing the outside to bring out the flavor.  250F seemed awfully low, but it did the trick, and the result was a juicy, tender roast, enjoyed hot that night and cold the next day for sandwhiches!

Here’s what I did:

Garlic Herb Rub

2 cups chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, parsley, basil, thyme, tarragon, etc. — whatever you have on hand)
1 head garlic, mashed
1/2 c. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and rub all over the roast, ideally 4-6 hours before serving.
Let the roast come to room temperature before browning.  Scrape off herbs and garlic from the roast into a little dish and set aside.


Preheat oven to 250F.

Heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven.  Place the roast in the pan and cook, undisturbed, 3-4 minutes.  Rotate until all sides of the roast are nicely browned (you can do this in a 450F degree oven, but the sear is much better on the stove top.)  Transfer the roast to a roasting pan and put in the oven.

Making the pan sauce

Olive Oil
1/2 cup red wine
1 tbsp. cornstarch (or matzo meal if it’s Passover)
1/4 c. warm water
1-2 cups beef broth, vegetable broth or water

Add more olive oil to the pan if necessary.  Add herb garlic mixture and cook over low heat until garlic is fully caramelized and crispy.  It’s ok if some of it starts to stick to the pan.  Remove the garlic and herbs before they burn.  Deglaze the pan with red wine, scraping up the bits on the bottom as the wine simmers.

Mix cornstarch with warm water until disolved.  Add to wine, along with broth/water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Return garlic and herb bits to the pan and simmer to reduce to desired thickness.

How long should I cook the roast?

Allow about 20 min per pound, but use a meat thermometer to really gauge your roast.  Cook to desired temperature.   Allow roast to rest under a loose tent of aluminum foil at least 10 minutes before carving.

Serve with garlic herb pan sauce.  Enjoy!


3 Comments Add yours

  1. ilene says:

    Anna – I just sent Naftali a query about the shoulder roast: I see your recipe above – 250 is ‘scary’ but i will try it! Are you setting the roast in any liquid? On a rack? I see this as more delicate than a pot roast or brisket but maybe I’m wrong? Is it the same kind of potted, braised beef? Or is it more like a roast beef that can be served rare? Thanks! (I’m prepping for Thanksgiving – we have loved ones who do not eat poultry (Whaa?) and several vegetarians. Feel my pain :0 )

  2. hedy mandel says:

    Just tried this recipe.meat is nice and tender sliced it with electric knife.didnot like rosemary taste.used it,parsley basil can I counteract, (lessen )rosemary taste?

    1. Anna Hanau says:

      Just leave the rosemary out if it’s not your thing. Parsley, basil, thyme, sage would all be good options. Glad the meat was tender and easy to slice!

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