Oven Pot Roast Recipe
for 50, but easy to do?
Ask-a-Caterer Replies to:

Linda from Youngstown, Ohio, who asked:

Linda writes: “Every year we do a dinner for the Library Association Volunteers. Rather than something glizty and glamorous, they want a dinner that’s homey and down to earth, something simple and very good. What would you suggest for a group like this, many of them are in retirement age? We need something easy, and it needs to be tender and moist. Thank you - very helpful website.”

Ask-a-Caterer Replies: Linda - We know just what you mean. Try this: it's our Oven Pot Roast, which is so easy, and completely wonderful:

You buy the cheapest cut of top round beef - usually around $2/ pound.  We would use two 12-14 pound roasts for 50 people (figure 3/4 pound per person of raw top round, because of the shrinkage, fat, etc.,) You will also need 24 - 10.5oz cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup, and 6 envelopes of a dry Onion Soup mix.  Also - a large roll of heavy duty aluminum foil.  Gotta be HD.

In a large stock pot, mix the soups together with 1.25 gallon of water.

Make 4 (open) newspaper size pieces of aluminum foil by folding the ends together - nice tight seams.  Using two pieces of foil with a pan underneath, place a roast on the foil and curl the foil loosely up around the beef.  Now pour as much soup mix as the foil will hold, saving room to be able to seal the ends of the foil around itself.  Can you see it? - it's like wrapping the beef in an airtight wrap of foil, with lots of the soup mix inside too.

Take some time to make sure that the foil is really well sealed.  Squeeze, squeeze. Repeat this for the other roast.

Now slowly roast them at 300^f for 6-7 hours.  Don’t open the foil - no peeking! Remove from the oven and let stand in the foil for 30 minutes.  Then carefully open the foil, and with a helper, add the gravy, fat and all, to the rest of the soup mix in the stock pot that you couldn't fit into foiled beef.

Begin heating the gravy mix in the stockpot - careful not to burn it.  After it has come up to temperature, you'll want to skim the fat, which will rise to the surface.  (I know -  you poured the fat in, and then you skim it off - but some of the complex fat molecules combine with the gravy, and that's the flavor profile you're looking for.)

Allow the meat to stand, without cutting or handling it, for at least 45 minutes.

Now, carefully cut the meat into slices for serving.  If it crumbles, wait some more.  It will firm up.

Pour some of the gravy into your chafing dishes.  Artfully arrange the cut pieces of beef in the chafer, and add more gravy.  Hold the other gravy hot nearby.

Be sure to serve this with some kind of potato or rice, something that will work with the gravy.

This is our most requested beef dish - you can prototype it at home first with a smaller cut of beef to see how it works.


Follow the guidance above, cheap beef is fine - don’t forget the Heavy Duty foil - it’s more expensive, but for this occasion, you need it.

The mushroom soup can be any kind, cheap is fine. Figure one can of soup per two people.


As above, remembering to really seal the foil well. If during the baking, one of the foil pouches starts to leak, remove it from the oven, and wrap another shell of foil around it. Don’t try to take the original foil off and start again.

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