POT ROAST: FROM HUMBLE TO HEROIC

I know what you’re thinking… pot roast? C’mon, George, don’t you have a better recipe than that?

Well, I am here to tell you that the humble, often-under-appreciated pot roast can be a respected, almost heroic, part of your kitchen repertoire. The finished product can be more versatile than you might think. The problem with pot roast is that some home cooks do not give it the TLC that it deserves. This is not a difficult dish; it just requires some time and some love.

First, and perhaps most important, all meats do not behave like pot roast. You would not want to prepare any lean hunk of meat the same way! You need a well-marbled meat – not one that is suited for grilling. It would be a mistake to try this with a ribeye, tenderloin, strip, hanger or flank steak. Also, for this recipe, I would avoid the leaner rounds and eye of rounds. The good news is that well-marbled roasts, such as chuck, tend to cost less than the leaner meats.

A well-marbled chuck roast will produce the best results here.

Cooking a perfect pot roast is an art; if you do it right it, your main attraction will be perfect. This recipe should put you on course and will show you that you can do a number of wonderful things with a perfectly cooked pot roast.

My recipe calls for going low and slow in the oven. Some home cooks like the set-it-and-forget it convenience of a slow cooker. But I like this oven method even better than a slow cooker or Crock Pot. I feel I have more control.. and I can keep the temperature low enough!

Searing the chuck roast gets you on the way to perfection.

The Perfect Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • One 3 and 1/2 pound to 4 pound beef chuck roast
  • Salt, pepper, chopped garlic or garlic powder.
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 cups beef broth

Instructions

Heat oven to 275.

Season roast liberally with salt; about a tablespoon of course salt for the roast.

Heat a cast iron Dutch oven on high heat. You might want to open a window and turn on your exhaust fan!

When the pan is sufficiently heated, add the oil followed by the roast. Sear heavy on one side and turn over. Season the seared side with black pepper and granulated garlic (I don’t sear with pepper and garlic. They tend to burn.).

It’s OK to let the roast sit until it is cool enough to handle.

When the other side is browned, remove from heat and wait about 2 minutes (this wait time is so broth does not splatter out of your pan). Add 2 cups of beef broth and place the lid on top of the Dutch oven.

Place the pan in oven and cook at 275 for about 4.5 hours. I like to use a thermometer for braising; the temperature I look for is 205 degrees. This low and slow approach breaks down collagen and connective tissue and allows the fat to lubricate the meat and naturally baste it. If you cook too fast and you are in a hurry don’t bother with this recipe because your roast will become dry, even if you get to the internal temperature of 205 degrees.

You can serve your roast immediately with roasted root vegetables or mashed potatoes with the natural jus from the roast. Or cool the roast in the braising liquid. When cool enough to handle, separate the meat from the fat (discard the fat and sinew).

Shredded pot roast can be used in different ways.

Here are a few suggestions:

Beef, potato and cheese enchiladas: Fry diced potatoes, season with garlic and onion, mix in the braised beef, and add cheese. Try using flour tortillas and browning them on a griddle before you sauce them.)

Shredded beef on a South Union Bakery hoagie bun, on the way to getting the Philly treatment.

Braised-beef Philly:  Heat beef in a skillet and place in buns with cheese or Cheese Whiz, sautéed onion and pepper on a South Union hoagie bun.

Braised-beef omelet: Use caramelized onion and cheese omelet with salsa verde.

Braised-beef, fancy pants grilled cheese: Use buttered South Union bread, braised beef, comte, gruyere or emmenthaler, sautéed onion and mushrooms and a splash of truffle oil (as I have said before, I am not “over” truffle oil and we sell the “good stuff” at Gateway Market). Toast this on a griddle.

Braised-beef tacos: (I know you were expecting this!) Just heat the meat, serve with hot salsa, chopped onions, cilantro and lime and warm corn tortillas.

A braised-beef Philly could change the way you think about pot roast.

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