The first secret to a tender roast is to cook it at a low temperature for a long time, keeping the liquid only a third of the way up the roast, which means a different amount of liquid depending on how tall your roast is. Some recipes call for broth or water. Check the roast after 2 1/2 hours of cooking and remove some of the juice if needed to keep the proper level. Then check roast every half hour, removing juices if necessary, and to take a bite and test if the meat is tender. If it’s still chewy, wait another 1/2 hour. The second trick is to catch it when the fat puffs up a little, gets glazy and has a rich, buttery taste. The collagen in the meat has turned to gelatin. The meat will be very tender at this point. After this the outside of the roast will turn very dark and tough and meat starts to dry out and becomes chewy again and loses its flavor. All ovens, pots and roasts cook differently. Spot checking will enable you to cook a roast correctly.
Picking out a good roast is like learning how to pick a ripe avocado. Every butcher I’ve talked to have been very nice and they show you what you need. You can use any kind of chuck roast for this recipe. Today I went to two stores to find a nice roast. I spoke with a butcher about a roast with a label that read “USDA Choice Chuck Pot Roast Boneless.” He said that this is the classic pot roast. It’s flat and looks like a very big steak. Seven bone roasts, top-blade roasts and chuck-eye roasts are Cook’s favorites. They are a test kitchen that has tried all the different roasts for taste and tenderness. I have included their recipe below.
When looking for a good roast the next thing to look for is a roast that has some marbling. Pot roasts are cooked so long they are going to get tender, but marbling also adds flavor. It’s fat so if you need to avoid beef fat, choose a roast with less marbling. You can google “marbled meat” and see images of what to look for or talk to a butcher.
Pot roast is traditionally served with quartered small potatoes and carrots cut into 3 inch pieces. If your pot has enough room, you can add them to the pot an hour or so before it’s done. For something different that is really great, I am posting a delicious cauliflower recipe. Anyone who says they don’t like cauliflower will completely change their minds. They look just like mashed potatoes so you have to warn people so their taste buds are ready for it and they can appreciate how great they are when they take their first bite, instead of their eyebrows crossing wondering what they are eating.
Cook’s Simple Pot Roast*
- about 3 1/2 pound chuck-eye roast, seven-bone, boneless (seven-bone without the bones) or top-blade
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoon avocado or other high heat oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped medium
- 1 small carrot, chopped medium
- 1 small celery rib, chopped medium
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons sugar, honey or maple syrup (opt)
- 1 cup canned beef broth or homemade bone broth
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme, about 1 teaspoon of leaves
- water (you may not need any if you are using a flat roast)
Rinse meat, pat dry with paper towels and salt and pepper all sides. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Brown the meat on all sides, then remove it and and set it on a plate. Add chopped onions, carrots and celery (mirepoix) to the Dutch oven and sauté until they start to brown. Add garlic and sugar or honey cook 30 seconds. Return the meat to Dutch oven with any juices that were released. Add broths and enough water to come a third of the way up the sides of the meat. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Remove from heat. Cover the Dutch oven with foil and place the lid on top. Place in a 275 degree oven and bake a tall chuck-eye roast for 4 hours or until tender removing liquid with a turkey baster into a large measuring cup so it still only comes a third of the way up the roast. For flatter roasts start checking for tenderness after 2 1/2 hours and each 1/2 hour after that. Keep the juices in the refrigerator until it’s time to make the gravy. The roast will turn from grey to more golden brown and the fat in the meat will become very soft and buttery when it’s tender. Don’t let the meat overcook or it will become tough again and lose its flavor.
Remove roast from oven when meat is tender. Heat juices in a saucepan. Mix 2 tablespoons flour with 1/3 cup of the juices and 1/4 cup milk. The juices are boiling whisk flour mixture into juices. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If you like potatoes and carrots with your pot roast you’ll need a 7.25 qt. Dutch oven (Le Creuset #28), Slice eight small yellow potatoes in half and scrub and trim 5 carrots and cut them in three pieces and surround the meat with the vegetables before adding the liquid.
*Cook’s recipe has been rewritten with some changes.
Mashed Cauliflower With Boursin Herbed Cheese
- cauliflower florets from 1 large head of cauliflower*
- 3 tablespoons Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs cheese (This flavor of Boursin cheese does not have additives.)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- chives, sliced thin