How to Cook a Pot Roast
A tender, meaty beef pot roast has a top spot on the list of America's favorite comfort foods. The good news is that it's easy to prepare. Choose a cooking method and flavor your roast just the way you like it.
Learn to make a pot roast, and you'll always have a way to turn an inexpensive cut of meat into a wholly satisfying meal for friends and family. Here's what you need to know, including a master plan for a pot roast recipe you'll cherish for years to come and pass down to the next generation.
What Meat To Use for a Pot Roast
Among the most flavorful cuts for beef pot roast are those that come from the chuck (between the neck and shoulder blade) of the animal. These include cuts labeled chuck arm pot roast, chuck shoulder pot roast, or chuck seven-bone roast. Rife with connective tissue (also known as collagen), these cuts can be tough when undercooked. However, during the slow cooking process, the collagen breaks down into gelatin, which moistens and enriches the roast.
How to Make a Pot Roast -- Stove-Top Directions
A surefire way to make a tender, juicy pot roast is through braising -- that is, cooking the meat in a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pot at low temperatures. The following recipe, Make-It-Mine Pot Roast, provides a basic formula for braising pot roast using your choice of liquid seasoning, dried herbs, potatoes, and vegetables. With hands-on prep time of just 30 minutes (and a cooking time of 1 hour 45 minutes), the recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.
1. Prepare the Cooking Liquid
In a small bowl combine your choice of liquid, liquid seasoning, and the dried herb, along with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- 3/4 cup liquid: Choose apple juice, beef broth, cranberry juice, tomato juice, water, or a combination of 1/2 cup beef broth and 1/4 cup dry red wine.
- 1 tablespoon liquid seasoning: Choose from Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, Dijon-style mustard, soy sauce, or steak sauce. While these aren't essential for a good roast, they do intensify the flavor.
- 1 teaspoon dried herb: Choose basil, herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, oregano, or thyme. Crush the herb between your thumb and forefinger to release its fragrance before you add it to the stew.
2. Prepare the Meat
Start with a 2-1/2- to 3-pound beef chuck arm pot roast, beef chuck shoulder pot roast, or beef chuck seven-bone pot roast. Using a sharp knife, trim any excess fat from the meat. Sprinkle the meat with salt and ground black pepper to taste. In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat in the hot oil on all sides. Drain off the fat.
3. Simmer the Roast
Pour the cooking liquid over the browned roast. Bring liquid to boiling. Reduce heat to simmering. Cover the Dutch oven and simmer for 1 hour.
4. Add Potatoes
Add 1 pound of your choice of the following potatoes to the Dutch oven:
- Fingerling, red, russet, yellow, or sweet potatoes: Use medium-size potatoes. Peel and quarter them before adding to the Dutch oven.
- Tiny new potatoes: Leave whole and peel a strip of skin from centers before adding to the Dutch oven.
5. Add Desired Vegetables
Choose 1 pound total of one or more of the following vegetables, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces, and add to the Dutch oven:
- Peeled butternut squash
- Peeled carrots or parsnips
- Trimmed fennel bulb
- Sliced leeks or shallots
- Onion wedges or peeled pearl onions
- Peeled turnips or rutabagas
6. Continue Cooking the Roast
Return liquid to boiling. Reduce heat to simmering. Cover the Dutch oven and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes or until the meat is tender when tested with a fork.
7. Make the gravy
Remove the meat and vegetables from the Dutch oven. Place them on a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Measure the cooking juices and add enough water to the juices to equal 1-1/2 cups. Return the juices to the Dutch oven. Stir together 1/2 cup cold water and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Stir this mixture into the pan juices. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. If desired, season with ground black pepper. Serve gravy with the meat and the vegetables.
How to Make a Pot Roast -- Oven Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare as directed above, except in Step 3, bake pot roast, covered, for 1 hour. Add the vegetables and potatoes as directed. Cover and bake 45 to 60 minutes more or until the meat is tender. Prepare the gravy in a saucepan as directed in Step 7.