Discover more from Cooking with Octopod
Beef Pot Roast: How To
A framework for pot roast anytime... no recipe req'd!
Pot roast and braises are a classic and soul-satisfying category of eats.
Many of you requested some help with pot roasts so instead of ‘1’ recipe to drop for you I’m going to write out a framework that you can customize to your own tastes.
Once you get the process down this gives you a lot of flexibility to adapt and cook with whatever you have on hand, ending with a beautiful pot roast and gravy all from one pot.
You can use a crock pot but I always brown the roast in a pan, so I just use a dutch oven and bake in the oven so it’s a one-pot meal. The choice is yours 🤝
There are many cuts you can use but your best bet is shoulder chuck. The marbling and connective tissue break down wonderfully converting collagen into gelatin… giving a tender and succulent roast. Most stores have pre-cut chuck roasts anywhere from 3-8lbs.
You can also use cuts from the leg (round, eye of round, etc) but these are more lean and take a longer time to cook until meltingly tender.
Shopping tip: look for sales on chuck roasts at your local grocery store and stock up, putting remainder in the freezer. I did this last week when chuck roast was cheaper/lb than round roasts.
Classics are onion, celery and carrot. I use far less celery as I find it gives an overly green, vegetal flavor that is too strong unless used in small amounts.
Approximate ratio would 2:2:1 (carrot, onion, celery)
I love pot roast carrots as a side dish so what I do is add the carrots on top of all the aromatics so I can scoop them off at the end of the cook and reserve to the side. The rest of the aromatics are blended with the braising liquid to make a gravy.
For other vegetables you could use leeks or shallots in place of onions; fennel would be a wonderful anise-flavor to add; bell peppers would also add a different dimension of mild-piquancy which could be pleasant.
Tomato paste adds a wonderful depth and umami
Garlic: Use whole cloves, they will break down and soften nicely during the long cook.
Bay leaf, peppercorns (whole or freshly ground) and fresh (or dried) thyme are classic herbs to aromatize the beef.
Consider in fall/winter months small amounts of sage/rosemary.
Also consider paprika (sweet or smoked), chili powder.
Lemon zest (or orange) is a wonderful way to perfume the roast and gravy as well. Use a veg peeler to remove the zest from the fruit.
When it comes to the roast gravy the choice is between if you decide to blend the aromatics and liquid to make a gravy, or if you want to save all the softened aromatics separate from the liquid.
If not blending, add some AP flour and cook it out in the vegetables before adding your liquides for the oven-braise.
Optional: you can deglaze your sauteed aromatics with a good splash of red wine and reducing that before adding your stock.
For braising liquid, stock is ideal. Believe it or not, chicken stock works great for a beef pot roast. If you have beef stock (or broth) on hand then that’s great too.
This is worth thinking about. We already added tomato paste above but also consider the following: mushrooms with aromatics, add a bouillon cube and/or dash of soy sauce to braising liquids… or just a good ol’ pinch of MSG 🤤
Bringing It All Together:
Here’s what the process looks from start to finish:
Heat dutch oven over high heat. Make sure pot roast is dry and season with salt. Add oil to pan, brown roast on all sides over high heat. Remove from dutch oven and set aside.
Add onions, celery, a good seasoning of salt (and a dash of cooking oil if needed) and sweat over med-hi heat. At this point scrape up any fond (browned pieces stuck to the pan).
Add the tomato paste and cook out over medium high heat until the paste begins to stick and brown slightly on the bottom of the pan (if using flour to thicken add with the tomato paste). Turn to medium if the bottom of the pan begins to brown.
If using wine, deglaze the pan and scrape up the solids while the wine reduces. Add the herbs then make a well in the center of the pan for the roast to sit in, pushing the aromatics to the side.
Add your broth (and umami boosters) to come up approx 3/4 of the roast, spread the carrots around, on top of the sweated aromatics, with lemon zest on top.
Cover and bake in a 300F oven until the roast is tender. This will take at least 3.5 hrs. I took mine just over 5 hrs. It will depend on size of your roast. Best to start earlier and have a longer time to rest, than have an underdone roast with ppl waiting to eat at the table. It’s a perfect all-day cook in the oven while you are doing other things.
Remove from the oven and allow the roast to rest in its’ liquid for 30-45 mins.
Scoop the carrots off the top of the roast liquid and set aside; season with salt, chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Remove the roast to a cutting board. Add the liquids and solids to a blender and process until a smooth gravy is formed. Check seasoning.
Put a base layer of gravy on a serving platter. Slice the tender pot roast into thick slices, season with salt and pepper, arrange on the bed of gravy.
Finish by dousing the pot roast in more gravy and finishing with chopped parsley.
This is a complete framework that you can tailor to your own tastes and preferences 🙌
Drop any questions in the comments and I’ll get to them (questions related to this post only)
Cooking with Octopod is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts, full archive access and support my work, consider becoming a paid subscriber.
Happy Cooking… next up: Braciole 🇮🇹 . Don’t miss it!