Roast beef (perhaps technically pot roast, but we always called it roast beef and so that's what I'm going to continue to call it, so there!) is one of those dishes from my childhood that I remember us having on a regular basis. I just loved it. It's what started my enduring love affair with gravy, really. It took me a while after technically entering adulthood before I tried it myself, and then only in a crockpot. I had never understood the reasoning behind the various instructions my mother would leave me with if I were left at home to babysit the roast while she went out-- start it hot, turn down the temperature, make sure it's covered make sure there's water on it...cover it with foil, take the foil off...what? And we never really could predict accurately when it would be done-- sometimes it went too long and was dry, sometimes it wasn't quite ready by the time we were ready to eat dinner, and was still tough. Most of the time it was juicy and tender, but there always seemed to be an element of luck to the process. As the years have passed, I've finally acquired a theory of meat, and finally felt ready to try it on my own-- just me and the oven, no Crockpot needed. (I do love my Crockpot, don't get me wrong-- it's just the principle of the thing.)
Simple roast beef
3 lb rump roast
1/2 c. water
Preheat your oven to 400. Put the roast in a roasting pan (find one with a cover so you don't have to mess with foil like my mom always did), and salt and pepper it. I know I'm trying to be all no-salt for Mae, but I really think a roast needs it, so to minimize her salt intake, I give her meat from the inside of the roast. (It also happens that I really like the browned bits from the outside. Isn't it nice when things work out like this?).
Ok, so you've salted and peppered it. Put it in the oven for 30 minutes to get it started browning. Meanwhile, thinly slice your onion. After the half hour, turn the heat down to 200, add the onions and the water to the roasting pan. Then let 'er go a while. Honestly I'm still not clear on how long it should take-- I think I leave it in for 3-4 hours. I start checking it after 2 hours, and pull it out when it starts to pull away easily when you stick it with a fork. I like it falling-apart tender.
Save those juices and make yourself some gravy.