How to Cook Pot Roast

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pot roast
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If you want to learn how to cook pot roast so it's deliciously tender and juicy every time, then it might help to have some tips and a little guidance to set you on the right path. Laurie Colwin's recipe for pot roast is also a good place to start.

Selecting the Meat

Facing a big chunk of meat can be intimidating and cooking it the right way is one of the biggest kitchen challenges. Common cuts used for pot roast include chuck, brisket, top round, bottom round, and rump.

"My mother favors front-cut brisket, but she grew up when one could buy prime meat... without dipping into capital... I settled on the cheaper chuck steak, cut thick, and I stand by it. It is fattier than brisket and therefore more lip-smacking." —Laurie Colwin

Remember, you can always ask the butcher in your supermarket for help selecting a cut for pot roast.

And, always buy more meat than you think you will need. Leftover pot roast makes for some tasty sandwiches the next day. Generally, you will get two to three servings out of a pound of boneless roast, and two servings from a pound of bone-in roast.

How to Cook Pot Roast

If your grandmother used to cook a mean pot roast, and you are wondering how, well, check out these general tips on how to make the perfect pot roast.

  • Moist heat is a must: The cuts of meat used for pot roast have less fat than steaks and long, slow cooking with liquid (braising) tenderizes the meat fibers.
  • Brown the meat: Whether the pot roast is cooked on the stove, in the oven, or in the crockpot, you might want to brown the meat first on all sides. This improves the flavor and appearance of the meat. The high heat used during browning caramelizes the sugars and proteins in the meat, which results in a rich flavor. If the recipe does not call for browning, you do not have to worry about it (but, you might want to try it anyway).
  • Season the meat: Before browning, season the meat and seal in flavor in the meat.
  • Bake the roast in the oven or use a slow cooker: When the pot roast is simmered in a skillet on the stovetop, you have to pay much more attention to the cooking process. One of the best things about a pot roast in the oven or crockpot is that you can set it and walk away.
  • Experiment with cooking liquid: When you braise the meat, you can use anything from coca-cola to beef broth to tomato juice.
  • All-in-one dish: Add vegetables to the meat and you have a complete one-pot meal.
  • Veggie add-ons: Vegetables should be added right at the beginning when you are cooking in the crockpot. For oven pot roast, add vegetables about one hour before the meat is done.

Pot Roast Recipes

Have a big slab of beef? Then, all you need is heat and time to cook it to perfection. The method is up to you: stovetop, oven, crockpot, or pressure cooker. For the quickest preparation, go with the pressure cooker, you can have a pot roast in just about an hour. In the oven, you might need about five hours. And, the crockpot, well, that would be best to start in the morning before you leave for work. By the time you get home, it will be ready for you.