Pot Roast is the original one-pot meal. An easy dinner that’s close to impossible to mess up, it’s been the classic choice for a cozy Sunday night meal for decades and yet it’s an equally good choice when company calls. Pot Roast turns an inexpensive cut of beef into something amazingly tender and full of flavor (and dare we say, the accompanying vegetables might even steal the show). It really is easy to make – braising is a forgiving cooking technique – but it does take time. Cooking things slow and low is what creates the magic here. We love an entire meal that comes together in one dish, and Pot Roast is no exception. In fact, it might set the standard.
There are a few simple things to know in order to get the perfect pot roast:
Pot Roast is a situation where you want a tough, inexpensive cut of beef. The reason is the act of slow cooking at low heat dissolves the tough connective tissue in those cuts, giving you that tender, pull-apart texture, as well as a velvety sauce at the end. Brisket, chuck, or round roast all work well; look for something that’s around three pounds. Make sure you let your beef sit out for an hour or two until it becomes room temperature; a refrigerator-cold roast will take much longer to cook at this low temperature.
To sear or not to sear is often a question, but we always opt for the sear. It imparts more flavor by giving you lots of lovely little browned bits to scrape up when it comes time to add liquid to the pot. If you’re committing to the time it takes to make pot roast anyway, there’s no reason to skip this step. It makes all the difference in having an irresistibly flavorful gravy in the end.
You can use a great many combinations of vegetables that you have on hand, but sturdy root vegetables that will stand up to the long cooking time work best. We generally opt for carrots and potatoes, cut into large chunks, but turnips, parsnips, and sweet potatoes all make great options as well. When it comes to potatoes, choose a waxy variety like Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes. Their texture is better with the long cooking time than something like a Russet potato.
While much of the flavor in Pot Roast comes from this single ingredient, you don’t need to resort to anything fancy or expensive to have a great result. You want to make sure that it’s a wine you’d enjoy drinking a glass of since the flavor intensifies as it reduces, but any middle-of-the-road Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir that you like will work well.
The perfect Pot Roast is well within any cook’s grasp. Choose the right ingredients, don’t rush the process, check occasionally to make sure you don’t run out of braising liquid, and you’ll be more than happy with the end result. Enjoy!
Classic Pot Roast
- 3 lb boneless chuck roast
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large yellow onions, thickly sliced
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 fresh rosemary springs
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 5 medium waxy potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Arrange rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325°F.
- Season roast liberally with salt and pepper and sprinkle flour over roast until evenly coated.
- Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add roast and sear on all sides until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove roast to a plate and let rest.
- Reduce heat to medium and add onions and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sauté until onions are soft and starting to brown, about 4 minutes.
- Add red wine and scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan. Stir in tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, and add garlic, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Return beef and any accumulated juices to the pot.
- Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour 45 minutes. Meat will become tender but won't yet be falling apart.
- Add carrots and potatoes around roast, cover, and return to the oven. Cook until roast pulls apart easily and vegetables are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours more.
- Slice beef or pull apart with two forks to serve. Enjoy!
Adapted from Simply Recipes.