The Perfect Pot Roast

The Perfect Pot Roast

Perhaps one of the most enduring culinary classics is the beef pot roast.  Whether it be a trademark Sunday lunch on a family table or an amped-up recipe such as beef bourguignon, you start with the same hearty ingredients:  a 3-4 pound beef chuck roast, beef broth, vegetables, and perhaps a dry red wine.  The preparation technique is essentially the same as well by first browning the meat on each side on the stovetop then slow cooking it in or over liquid.

Searing

Make sure the vessel you will be cooking the roast in can be used on the stove top as well as the oven.  An excellent choice is a Dutch oven due to their versatility.  Pour in enough flavor-neutral oil (such as canola or grapeseed) to cover the bottom of the surface of the dish and allow it to heat.  At this time coat the meat in the seasonings you have chosen to use such as salt, pepper, and/or herbs then brown the roast on each side just until a brown crust forms.

Braising

Turn off the heat and add in any liquids you want the pot roast to cook in.  These can include beef/vegetable broth, mushroom stock, tomato puree, dry red wine (look for something more earthy and smoky than fruit-forward), and even Worcestershire sauce.  You will need 2-3 cups of liquid depending on the size of the roast (3 versus 4 pounds) and the dimensions of your baking dish.  Season the liquid to your tasting but be careful with the salt if you are using prepackaged broths/stocks.  Bay leaves are a wonderful addition and you can be liberal with herbs and spices since they are naturally sodium free.  If you want to add any root vegetables such as turnips, onions, potatoes, and carrots you should do so now due to the time they take to cook and soften.

Final Touches

In a preheated 350-degree oven, cook the meat for 3-3 ½ hours until it is fork tender.  If you want to add any additional (non-root) vegetables do so 20-30 minutes before the roast comes out of the oven.  Remove the meat and place it on a service platter along with the vegetables.  Whatever you do don’t overlook the leftover cooking liquid!  This is an exquisite ingredient in itself, especially since it has absorbed the flavors of the beef and vegetables.  One option is to make a gravy for the roast out of the liquid.  You can either make a roux of butter and flour then gradually stir in the liquid until it reaches the desired consistency or pour the liquid into a saucepan and stir in a mix of corn starch and cold water to thicken it.  You could also use the liquid as a base for a very rich soup/stew or even to cook another roast in.  The perfect pot roast, whether it be for a family or formal table, is an incredibly easy dish to master and personalize to the point of truly making it your own.

 

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