Pot Roast Help

ShariLouWhoJuly 23, 2012

I wish someone could tell me what I'm doing wrong. I'm not sure how or why, but it seems like at least one out of every three times I make pot roast (admittedly not very often), it just doesn't come out very tasty. I've used several methods -- oven roasting, Reynolds bag, crockpot -- but nothing yields consistent results.

Is there a specific cut of meat I should be using? Some type of marinade beforehand to tenderize the meat? I just can't seem to figure what I'm doing wrong.

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There are lots of pot roast cuts....but lets start with a chuck roast. Get a 3 to 4 pound "chunk" roast.
Get out an onion
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
A small yellow onion
a couple of bay leaves
At least a cup of a dry red wine....no need to buy expensive....cheap stuff works.
A cup of beef broth....or more wine
Bit of flour
A little oil....maybe a tablespoon.
Bring the meat to room temp, pat dry...get out a dutch oven ( no crock pot!! you need to be able to cook over a burner and in the oven in the same pot) heat the dutch oven, add the oil and put the meat into the pot.....keep the heat on medium,,,,brown the meat on all sides.....very very brown...
When you are almost finished browning add the garlic, chopped or grated, and the onion sliced....continue browning until the meat and the onions are dark brown.
Add the wine and broth ( or more wine!!) bay leaf.....and either turn the stove top down very very low to barely simmer....or put the covered Dutch oven into an oven set at just a hair below 250....in case your oven isn't accurate....you are aiming for a bare simmer.
Cook for about an hour and a half per pound of meat. Turn the meat every hour.....add a little water if the liquid boils low.
When the meat is fo0rk tender, remove and tent to keep warm...
Skim the liquid if it seems fatty and place the pot on the stove top,Turn the burner to a low boil, make a slurry of 1/2 cup beef broth and 3 T flour....and slowly pour into the stuff in the pot....whisking all the time.
I like to add at this time a jag of worchestershire....perhaps another jag ( a jag is less than a tablespoon but more than a teaspoon!!) or soy sauce.....when it has simmered for 3 or 4 minutes.....taste and add salt as needed.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 12:18AM
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Oh, thank you for the wonderful detail!

One step that has been missing in all of my various recipes, that I'm betting makes a big difference, is the browning.

I have a cast iron dutch oven that will work wonderfully for this. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 12:33AM
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Linda's method is fine; the idea is that you're braising the meat (cooked slow in a bit of liquid) not boiling it. Long slow cooking allows connective tissue to break down (yay-that's good) instead of tightening up (boo-that's bad, makes it tough). Chuck has enough fat to keep it juicy and flavorful.

I'm gonna proselytize a bit for pressure cooking this, though. If you have a pressure cooker, you can have fork tender pot roast in an hour or so. And most of that time you're not doing anything.

Pressure-Cooked Chuck Pot Roast

Chuck roast, 3 to 4 pounds
2 cups onion, 1 cup carrots, 1 cup celery, all finely chopped
1 cup chicken broth (if you have some good quality beef broth, use it, but most commercial beef broth isn't very good)
1 large can of mushroom stems & pieces (optional)
Black pepper
1 or 2 bay leaves (optional)

In the pressure cooker, put the broth, onions, celery and carrots (Those vegetables are what the French would call a 'mirepoix'--pronounced "meer-pwah"--and they are sacrificial in nature; they give up their goodness to the dish) If you want to, sear the chuck roast on high heat in a frying pan (that's optional--it'll still taste good if you don't do that).

Mix in the can of mushrooms into the mirepoix. Scoop out roughly half of the mix and reserve. Give a generous grinding of black pepper to what remains in the cooker, and maybe throw in a bay leaf or two. Put in the pot roast. It's okay if it comes up the side of the cooker a little bit. Grind some more black pepper on the top of the roast, then put in the rest of the mirepoix/mushroom mixture on top of the roast. Reattach the pressure lid and bring the cooker up to pressure on high heat. Once it gets to pressure, cut back the heat to where it's just keeping the pressure on high.

Now, don't do anything for a while. After some time (roughly 45 minutes for a 3 pound chuck roast, 50 or 55 minutes for a 4 pounder), turn off the heat. Don't vent the pressure, but rather allow the pressure to come down by itself. It'll probably take at least 15 minutes to do so. During this time, you might want to make a batch of rice or couscous or noodles to catch the juices.

Once the pressure is down, remove the lid. Remove the roast to a platter. The juices in the pot will be delicious with no other treatment, but if you wanted to get fancy and strain them you could, or use a stick blender to blend the mirepoix vegetables into the sauce. Slice the pot roast and serve with rice and the pot juices.

Variations: in addition to the mirepoix, you can have chunks of carrot or celery, and even put a few potatoes on top of the meat.

And if you're really adventurous, squeeze an inch or two of anchovy paste into the broth (then mix it into the broth) before cooking. Don't worry, it won't taste like fish, but the resulting dish will be very savory, making your umami receptors very happy.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 11:31AM
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You also do not need to use a chuck roast to have a wonderful tasty tender pot roast. Slow roasting/cooking a top or bottom round or a rump roast will also give you what you are looking for.

I like a pot roast served with caramelize onions. Brown the roast remove from pan and caramelize onions. Put the roast back into the dutch oven, add a number of garlic cloves, a sprig or two of rosemary, salt and pepper. Add a little beef broth (red wine optional) and a squirt of tomato paste, cover and cook in the oven on low temperature (275 to 300�F) until tender.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 1:49PM
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And I often add button mushrooms when I add the wine.....about half a pound of small button mushrooms....whole.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 11:48PM
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Lindac, I LOVE YOU !!!
One cannot have too many mushrooms,
(or wine).

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 1:57PM
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Or Scotch......;-)

Lots of other stuff you can add to that potroast to add flavor, a few needles of rosemary, half teaspoon of Coleman's mustard, couple of T. balsamic vinegar, couple of slices of fresh ginger...on a tooth pic so you can remove them.
And I know someone who adds a good 2 shots of bourbon....for that bourbon glazed flavor.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 2:05PM
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Lindac, I didn't know it but I must be that 'someone you know'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Such a small world.
I've been known to take a thimble, or two,of bourbon
in cooking, or drinking, (think 'sweet' Manhattans).
But,I've been wondering..............what about a
pot roast made with BRISKETT ???? Tinkaboutit. . .
(and, of course, some bourbon).

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 2:19PM
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Brisket is actually my favourite cut for a "pot roast". Unfortunately, brisket isn't as common to find around here for some reason.

In Toronto brisket was always available.

I agree Linda. You can't go wrong with mushrooms. I'll skip the bourbon though.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 2:47PM
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Not fond of a brisket pot roast....a long cooked brisket ( very long cooked!!) is good....but it's "brisket"...not a yankee pot roast.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 3:15PM
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Being Canadian I never call my pot roast Yankee Pot Roast. LOL!!. But call it what you want, I learned to make brisket from a Kosher Jewish Grandma and other than the fact that the cut of beef was a brisket, the technique was basically the same. Long and low heat. Brown meat first, add whatever you are adding for seasoning, carrots, onions, celery, (potatoes for the Passover Brisket to thicken gravy), herbs and a little broth etc. Cooked it a tightly covered roasting pan. The finished product is very much like a pot roast.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 3:40PM
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I've been longing to cook a brisket, in the oven. Especially after watching Ina Garten cook it for Jeffrey.

I've never seen brisket sold here. I didn't know you could even buy it in Toronto, Ann. It sure isn't as easily found, as it is in the States.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 4:04PM
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Jasdip, I always found it easy to find in the Toronto area. Anywhere there is a large Jewish population you will find brisket. Are you close to the St. Lawrence market? Many of the butchers there carry brisket.

When we lived in Toronto we always shopped early Saturday morning at the St. Lawrence.
Or take a drive north on Bathurst. You won't have a problem finding a brisket.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 4:13PM
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Ann T... A Canadian question?? My Grandmother (NOT Canadian at all) made something similar to a pot roast... sorta... that she called Canadian Stew. She'd brown up a hunka beef, then add WHOLE carrots and stalks of celery (or at lest only cut in 2), lots of whole onions, a can of some kinda tomato product and her "required" bay leaf. Then she'd cover everything in that big pot with water and just let it simmer away for a few hours. SHe'd add potatoes for the last 20 minutes or so... otherwise they'd have turned to total mush. She ALWAYS made homemade bread to go with it. Everythiing was scooped out of the broth... which was delicious. You had the falling apart meat and cooked to DEATH (but yummy) veggies on a plate. A bowl or mug of broth, on the side, for dipping the bread.

Did she just make up the name??

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Yeah brisket.....learned from a Jewish friend....but that's not pot roast ( even though it's essentially the same technique)...but much fattier...and often has things like carrots and celery in it.
I don't call it "yankee pot roast" when I make a pot roast, but way to cook it came from the side of the family with names like Prescott and Osgood and a history of a certain April ride with a friend, Paul. So it's about as Yankee as it gets....with recent additions of mushrooms and lots of red wine.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 4:32PM
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As long as you are happy with your definition and I'm happy with mine that is all that matters.

klseiverd, don't know if she made up the name or where the name came from, but it sounds good to me. Like a pot roast cooked on top of the stove. I love a brothy stew so it works for me.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 7:36PM
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My Jewish friend makes great brisket, but she says you have to know how to buy the brisket. Buy the cut that is oddly shaped and not the rectangle or square of meat.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:43PM
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Get a piece of beef, just add salt and pepper, and cook it until tender, it will be delicious without any other seasoning.

Over seasoning, too many ingredients is one of the problems of pot roast tasting less than desirable.

There are many good suggestion here. Once you have gotten the recipe right for your taste, you may want to try out pot roast chicken, or pork.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:52PM
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And.....smoked brisket....with BBQ sauce is heaven on a bun!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:57PM
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Thanks, ladies. Y'all are all wonderful! I'm bookmarking this for next pot roast. Will be sure to tell you how it went. :-)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 10:12PM
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