Pot Roast (round)

classic pot roast by americas test kitchen

I usually cheat when I make pot roast. I buy a big hunk of meat, drown it with liquid, and set the crock pot for about 5 or 6 hours. I know that’s not really roasting, but it was easy. However, after watching them make it on America’s Test Kitchen, I thought I would actually try roasting my pot roast.

Pot Roast (Round) Recipe:

1. sweat it: dice up some carrots, celery, and onion and sweat them for a while in a dutch oven. I know in the original recipe that they want you to do things that most pot roasts typically require, like adding tomato paste and such. I skipped this because I only had a huge can of tomato paste on hand. And it felt wasteful to crack open the entire can for just a couple of tablespoons of the stuff.

sweating the vegetables

2. water it: Their recipe called for a lot of wine and a lot of liquid generally, so I just used water and a lot less of it. I know most of the alcohol cooks out when making a roast, but since my wife is pregnant, and since I didn’t know just how much of it would cook (or rather, not-cook) out, I just used water. I added a tiny amount of water – less then two cups. If I had beef stock, I would have used that.

add less liquid than you would think

3. beef it: gently drop the beef on top. salt and pepper it, if you want. The America’s Test Kitchen recipe for Classic Pot Roast called for chuck eye roast, but I couldn’t find it at my local grocery store. Instead, I used a round roast.

Also, I know most recipes call for searing the meat. But in the America’s Test Kitchen video for classic pot roast, they go over why it’s not absolutely necessary. And, since it’s less work, I followed the instructions.

no searing necessary

4. roast it: cover the dutch oven and bake it roast it at 300 degrees in the oven for about 3 hours (the original recipe calls for 3.5-4 hours, or until a knife can get inserted into the meat without resistance). There wasn’t room in the dutch oven for any of the roast veggies that make pot roast so worth having. So I put them in a separate iron skillet with some oil and put them in the oven too. They won’t need 3 hours. But maybe about 2 hours.

roasting the veggies

5. rest it: after it’s done roasting, pull the roast out of the oven and let it rest.


6. blend it: take all the liquid and the vegetables and put them in a blender  – this is the gravy. The original recipe calls for skimming the excess fat. But I think that since I used a round roast rather than a chuck eye roast, I didn’t have as much fat to worry about.

The original recipe calls for the addition of more wine and some vinegar. Again because of my pregnant wife, I held back on the wine. But I did add some balsamic vinegar. Maybe about a tablespoon.

blend the roast veggies

7. eat it: slice up the meat, cover with some gravy, and dish up some of the roast vegetables.

slice the roast

The roast turned out really good. The meat was tender and juicy, and it didn’t have that waterlogged feel to it that my crock pot versions of the past would typically have. And the gravy was really nice. It was beefy but slightly sweet in a good way – likely from the carrots. And it had a great thickness to it – likely from the fact that it was a pureed emulsion.

The balsamic vinegar gave it a really nice savoriness and fullness to the flavor. In the past, I’ve tried to make gravies a little richer with more salt or more pepper or more butter. But it’s that touch of balsamic vinegar that I was looking for.

pot roast with gravy

We had plenty of meat left over, and once the collagen had a chance to set back up after being roasted, the meat got even better when reheated. The meat seemed to be even more tender and more juicy, and it made for some really nice steak wraps for lunch.


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