Everything you need to know for pot roast perfection.
Pot roast is a popular American dish that involves slow-cooking a tough cut of beef in flavorful liquid until soft and tender. Many different cuts of meat can be cooked in this manner, but a common one is beef chuck roast, which comes from the cow’s shoulder. Chuck roast can be quite tough due to connective tissue and collagen, and is considered an inexpensive cut of beef. However, it has great flavor, and when cooked pot roast-style, it becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Pot roast is an excellent main course for holidays and celebrations because it’s inexpensive, scalable, filling, and doesn’t skimp on flavor. Plus, once the roast is in the oven, you can set a timer and forget about it for a few hours. Easy! To make the pot roast a complete meal, serve it with a starchy side, like polenta or Creamy One-Pot Mashed Potatoes, and something fresh and bright like Green Salad With Cornichon Vinaigrette or a Beet-Radicchio Salad.
Keep reading for an adaptable pot roast recipe and all of our best tips to make it a success, including how long to cook a roast in the oven so it tastes delicious.
Pot Roast Recipe
When cooking pot roast, the key is to go low and slow, with some of your favorite spices and vegetables. This yields tender, flavorful meat that everyone will love. Follow this step-by-step pot roast recipe, inspired by this easy recipe.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season a 3-pound beef chuck roast with salt and pepper.
Heat a couple tablespoons of canola oil in a large, oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the roast and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until the meat is nicely browned. Transfer the seared beef to a plate and set aside.
Adjust the heat to medium-low and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add diced onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until softened, then add aromatics such as smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the roast back to the pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover and place in the preheated oven.
Cook until the roast is fork-tender, about 3 hours.
Check for doneness by piercing the roast with a fork, which should go through the meat effortlessly.
Transfer the roast to a cutting board. Return the pot to the stovetop and cook over medium-high for about 5 minutes to thicken the sauce a bit. Discard bay leaves, thyme, and garlic.
Slice roast and transfer to a serving platter. Spoon sauce on top and finish with chopped parsley.
How to Season a Roast
Salt tenderizes meat and develops flavor, so it’s critical to salt a roast generously for the best results. Kosher salt is our preference for salting meat because it gives you more control; the large grains are easier to sprinkle evenly, and they cling to the meat better than fine salt grains do.
As for other seasonings, black pepper is a classic, but the options are truly endless: oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, thyme, and so forth. In the recipe above, the roast gets seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and other flavorings (smashed garlic, rosemary, and thyme) are added to the braising liquid to infuse the meat with flavor. However, another option is to rub the roast with a spice blend before searing it if you want an extra flavorful crust.
How Long to Cook a Roast in the Oven
With the oven at around 325 degrees, it’s best to cook a roast for about one hour per pound. The above recipe is written for a 3-pound chuck roast and cooks for about three hours, or until fork tender. Use the one hour per pound rule as a guideline, then trust your senses when checking for doneness.
How to Know When a Roast Is Done
Undercooked pot roast is tough, while properly cooked pot roast is tender. A fork should pierce the meat effortlessly. Follow your instincts, and keep cooking the meat until it’s very soft and easy to shred, which means it’s tender and ready-to-eat.
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