Jazzing up pot roast?
I made pot roast last night, and it was OK, but nothing exciting. Now, Ive never eaten pot roast before, so perhaps this is as good as it gets? Or can anyone suggest some improvements?
What I did:
Rubbed a 2.5 lb. chuck roast (flat) with kosher salt, black pepper, and some garlic powder
Heated some canola oil in a Dutch oven
Seared the roast and removed it
Cooked in the same pan, for about 10 minutes, finely chopped onion, carrot, and celery about 4 cups of veggies in total
Added a cup of red wine a Shiraz I had sitting around and scraped up the bottom of the pan
Added a bay leaf and some dried thyme, cooked about 5 minutes
Put the roast back in and cooked for about 2 hours on lowest heat setting, turning it every 30 minutes or so
The meat was tender and the sauce had a nice consistency, but I found the flavor to be a tad bland.
harissa is a nice spicy addition. you won't need a lot--and especially if you have red wine added to the mirepoix anyway, it makes a killer sauce when the meat is done. to the mirepoix/veg dried apricots or dried figs are a nice change of flavor an consistency (add them in with the other veg) if you've got a lot of veg i prefer pureeing it for a big ol' mash. otherwise, mashed celery root is really good with the complex heat from the harissa.
Well, now that it's hit 80 degrees in DC and some of the first blooms of spring have morphed into buds and little leaves (leaflets?), it seems silly to think of roasts.
However, these ideas have been great and all the seasoning variations sound more my speed. I had followed the Joy of Cooking recipe, which I'm thinking is very basic and lends itself to additions. And the general idea of pot roast is such a nice addition to my repertoire.
I made osso bucco for the first time tonight and my recipe was remarkably similar to yours, the cut of meat (lamb shanks) used being the main difference and considerably more wine (3/4 bottle merlot). I thought the meat was good but what really woke up all the flavor was the addition of a topping of gremolata-- minced blend of fresh lemon zest, garlic and Italian flat leaf parsley, roughly the same amount of each, and a couple pinches of salt.
I actually had considered not making the gremolata even though I had the ingredients for it since I was feeling lazy after cooking (which consisted of my poking the shanks and flipping them over a couple of times). But I felt there was something missing after tasting it without it. Maybe you could try a gremolata for your roast or a persillade (gremolata minus lemon zest) to punch up the flavor.
Or you know, maybe you just need to take the cooking liquid and reduce it a bit to make a reduction sauce with a little cold butter whisked in at the last minute.
Here's some stuff about pot roast. The idea the one guy has is probably right - they aren't growing beef as tasty as it once was. My wife has been complaining of this for years. The answer is probably just more seasoning, as most of your respondents suggest. Note that you can cook a fine, tender pot roast in a pressure cooker.
Lean roasts pose a juicy challenge
By Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times
A roast is the very image of a winter dinner. But lately you've probably been finding that the reality doesn't measure up. Too often that roast, so monumental in appearance, is nothing but a giant disappointment.
What should be glorious and juicy turns out to be only tough and dry.
The fault isn't with the cook, but the cooked.
Beef and pork are now raised to have much less fat than before, and that can mean a disappointing dinner. Fortunately, it's a problem that is pretty easily solved by careful preparation, though it may take some retraining on your part.
To unravel this particular puzzle, we searched through hundreds of pages of scientific reports and then cooked about a dozen roasts. We roasted pork and we roasted beef. We cooked them to medium temperatures and rarer. We used ovens that were blazing and hot, or gentle and slow, and some in between -- starting high and finishing low.
What we found surprised us. Looking at the sliced roasts side by side, the differences were astonishing. You might never have guessed that the only thing different about their preparation was the oven temperature. And the secret to the most successful -- a moist, delicious roast -- was a low temperature, for the finished roast and for the oven in which it's cooked.
Don't panic, we're not talking about serving bloody rare roast beef. When cooked at the lower oven temperature for a slightly longer time, a roast cooked to 125 degrees (normally quite rare) came out looking more like a conservative medium rare. The meat was firm and definitely cooked through, but still juicy and flavorful.
Meat cooked in a hot oven, on the other hand, was still slightly raw in the center, even though it had been cooked to the exact same temperature.
To understand how this works, you need to know a little bit about meat and heat. Roasts come from tender cuts of meat -- the muscles that didn't get much exercise. Because they have less connective tissue than other cuts, they can be cooked rarer and in an oven instead of a covered pot -- it's the stringy, sinewy cuts that need the long moist cooking of a stew or braise.
Dry cooking -- roasting, grilling and sauteing -- won't make meat more tender, but it does have one distinct advantage over moist. It can brown. The chemical reactions that cause browning in meat don't begin to get going until the temperature on the surface reaches about 300 degrees. Since anything cooked with liquid present will never get hotter than the boiling point -- 212 degrees -- braised meat will never brown. That's why you saute stew meat before you add any liquid. It's also why you should be sure to pat roasts completely dry before putting them in the oven.
It may sound redundant, but with these dry forms of cooking, dryness is always a problem. But it isn't dry air that causes the loss of juiciness, but the effects of the heat. When meat roasts, the protein strands contract and squeeze out the moisture they hold (as we'll see, as much as 25 percent).
When there is fat in the meat -- either on the outside of the cut or the fine marbling within the muscle -- this isn't such a problem. The fat renders, too, and that makes them seem juicy even if there is less actual moisture in the meat.
And therein lies the rub. Responding to what they perceive as the consumers' demands, the meat industry has been working overtime for the last 20 years to reduce the amount of fat in their products. The percentage of fat in the average piece of pork has been cut by a third since the early 1980s. The percentage of fat in beef fell 27 percent from the early '80s to 1990 and, according to a beef industry spokesman, is "probably well below that now." In fact, some luxury cuts such as sirloin and tenderloin now meet government standards as "lean," meaning they are low in fat and cholesterol.
This has been done with the intention of making all of us meat-eaters leaner as well, and someday it may succeed in that. But a more immediate result has been to reduce the margin of error in roasting. Today if you overcook meat even a little bit, your guests will know it immediately.
Instead of cooking beef to 145 degrees (on the medium side of medium-rare), we found that removing it from the oven at 125, then being sure to let it rest and rise to 135 yielded beef that was still firm but was far moister. For pork, use 145 degrees instead of 160 (or even, shudder, the previous USDA recommendation of 180!).
Left unanswered was the question of at what temperature you cook it.
All in the timing
For the answer, we took three beef and three pork loins of roughly the same sizes and roasted them -- one each at moderately high heat (450 degrees), one each at moderately low heat (300 degrees) and one each straddling the fence (450 degrees turned down to 300 after 15 minutes).
When the roasts were done, we removed them from the oven and set them aside for 10 to 15 minutes to rest. This is standard practice for roasting, though it is often overlooked in the cook's rush to get dinner on the table. It is important because it allows the roast to finish cooking with the residual heat retained in the meat. The internal temperature will increase from 5 to 15 degrees during the rest, depending on the size of the cut (smaller cuts retain less heat). Equally important, it allows the meat's juices, which have been driven to the center by the heat of cooking, to redistribute evenly through the roast.
We cooked the beef to an internal temperature of 125 degrees. After a 10-minute rest, it was at 135, on the rare side of medium-rare -- definitely moist and reddish pink, but the muscle fibers were set, not raw.
The pork we cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees (rising to 155 after the rest). This is somewhat lower than the current USDA standard of 160 degrees, but well above the minimum for safety. Pork needs to be held at 140 degrees for less than a minute to eliminate any threat of trichinosis.
What we found in our roasts was that high temperature roasting does develop a marginally better crust, but at a cost. The slight improvement in the crust is more than offset by a distinct toughening of the meat. The roasts cooked at 450 degrees were definitely chewy and a little dry in the outside portions and were still quite rare in the center. Except for the browning in the crust, the flavor was a little weak as well.
The meats cooked at low heat were more tender and moister as well. And, except for the very outer crust, the meat had better flavor -- it was fuller and meatier. While the exterior lacked some of the crust of the high-heat roasts, it didn't seem enough to tip the balance.
The roasts that were cooked first at high heat then at low were right in the middle. The crusting wasn't as good as the high-temperature roasts and they weren't as tender as the low.
The differences among cooking methods were particularly profound with beef. Not only was the high-heat loin not as good; there was less of it. The high-heat loin weighed 25 percent less after roasting, compared with a 15 percent shrinkage for both low-heat and high-low.
This is not to say that high-heat roasting does not work. It is still the best way to cook unstuffed poultry, where the skin provides a fatty cover that crisps and crusts well. Birds also have a thermodynamic advantage in that they are hollow. This provides a tunnel for the hot oven air to circulate through and means a far smaller surface-to-volume ratio. Because of this, birds cook fast enough that at 450 or even 500 degrees overcooking and toughening aren't a problem.
RIB ROAST WITH TAPENADE
6 ounces pitted black olives
3 cloves garlic, divided
4 anchovy filets
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed
About 1/4 cup red wine
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) standing rib roast
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Olive oil, optional
12 baguette slices, toasted
Pulse the olives, 2 cloves of the garlic, the anchovies and rosemary leaves in a food processor. Add just enough red wine to allow the mixture to form a fairly smooth paste.
Score the fatty sides of the rib roast in a diamond pattern, using a sharp knife to cut through the fat but not into the meat. Smear the top and both sides of the roast with the olive mixture, season generously with pepper and let it stand at room temperature 30 to 45 minutes to marinate. Reserve any leftover olive mixture.
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Carefully transfer the rib roast to a shallow roasting pan, bone-side down. Disturb the olive smear as little as possible. Roast to an internal temperature of about 115 degrees. This will take about 2 hours.
In a food processor, pulse the bread crumbs, remaining clove of garlic and the 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary until the garlic is minced fine. Remove the roast from the oven and pat the seasoned bread crumbs over top. Spoon over some of the fat from the bottom of the pan and return the roast to the oven. (If there is very little fat, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the crumbs.) Continue roasting to an internal temperature of 125 degrees, about 20 minutes more.
Remove the roast from the oven, cover it loosely with foil and let it stand an additional 15 minutes before carving. Use the remaining tapenade to smear on the toasted baguette slices and serve it alongside the carved roast, dipped in the juices. Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 558 calories; 532 mg sodium; 97 mg cholesterol; 36 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 30 grams protein; 1.89 grams fiber.
CROWN ROAST OF PORK STUFFED WITH WILD RICE AND DRIED FRUIT
1 (8-pound) crown pork roast
1 pound wild rice
10 cups water
2 shallots, minced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup slivered dried pears (about 6 ounces)
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Season the roast generously with salt and pepper and place it upside-down in a roasting pan, so it is supported by the rib bones. Roast 30 minutes, then turn the meat over and continue cooking to an internal temperature of about 140 degrees, about 2 hours.
While the roast is cooking, combine the wild rice, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and the water in a large saucepan and cook uncovered over medium-high heat until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Drain the rice and return to the pan. Add the shallots, cranberries, pears and rosemary, cover the pan and let stand until the roast is ready.
When the roast is ready, add the walnuts to the wild rice, season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the red wine vinegar. Spoon as much of the rice filling as possible into the center of the crown roast, spoon some of the fat from the bottom of the roasting pan over the stuffing, and return the meat to the oven. (Place the remaining wild rice stuffing in a baking dish alongside the roast.) Cook the roast to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Serves 12.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 446 calories; 60 mg sodium; 105 mg cholesterol; 24 grams fat; 13 grams saturated fat; 25 grams carbohydrates; 34 grams protein; 2.71 grams fiber.
ROAST CAPON WITH WILD MUSHROOM STUFFING
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3/4 cup warm water
1 shallot, peeled
1/2 pound white mushrooms
Juice and minced zest of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup cognac or other brandy (not fruit-based)
1 (8- to 10-pound) capon or roasting chicken
Cover the dried mushrooms with the warm water; set aside to soften, about 10 minutes.
In a food processor with the motor running, drop the shallot through the feed tube and chop until finely minced, 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl, add the white mushrooms and the lemon zest and pulse to mince them as well. Drain the dried mushrooms and squeeze dry, reserving the liquid to add to stock or soup. Add the softened mushrooms to the food processor; pulse to mince.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is sizzling, add the minced mushroom mixture. The mushrooms will almost instantly absorb all of the butter. Let them continue to cook, stirring frequently, and after 2 or 3 minutes, they will begin to release their moisture. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, thyme, rosemary and a generous grinding of pepper and continue cooking until the moisture from the mushrooms has been reabsorbed and the bottom of the pan is completely dry when you drag a spoon across it, about 5 minutes. Add the cognac and lemon juice and cook until the mushrooms are completely dry again, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. (The recipe can be prepared to this point as much as a day ahead and refrigerated, tightly sealed.)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water and pat dry. Using your fingers, separate the skin covering the breast from the meat at the main cavity. Work your hand way underneath the skin until you have completely separated it from the breast meat up to the wishbone.
Carefully spoon the mushroom mixture into the pocket between the skin and the meat. As you work, press the skin with your hand to push the mushrooms all the way to the wishbone end of the breast. The mushrooms should completely cover the breast, forming a layer about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick.
Truss the chicken: Cut a piece of kitchen twine 18 to 24 inches long. In the center of the twine, form a loop and wrap it around the knob of one drumstick. Pull the other drumstick tightly alongside, secure it with another loop and pull it tight. Take the 2 loose ends of the twine and wrap them snugly around the outside of the chicken so that they hold the wing tips to the breast meat. The twine should not be so tight it cuts into the meat. Tie off the ends and cut any excess twine.
Generously salt and pepper the outside of the chicken and place it breast-side up on a rack in a low-sided roasting pan. Roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh registers 160 degrees, 70 to 80 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and cover loosely with foil. Set aside for 10 minutes before carving. Carve as you would a turkey.
Note: When you remove this bird from the oven, you may be dismayed. The skin over the breast will be dark, almost scorched-looking. Not to worry, that's the mushroom stuffing showing through. You'll find that the breast meat is incredibly moist and delicately scented with the flavor of the stuffing. Serves 6.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 345 calories; 203 mg sodium; 115 mg cholesterol; 21 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 2 grams carbohydrates; 32 grams protein; 0.63 gram fiber.
Thursday, January 16, 2003
Mom's Best Pot Roast
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
4 pounds center-cut chuck steak
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons shortening
1 cup boiling water
3 large carrots, sectioned into 2-inch pieces and halved
6 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed into 1-inch pieces 16-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons Kitchen Bouquet
Salt and pepper meat and rub with flour. In a heavy roasting pan or skillet, saute onion and garlic in shortening until translucent but not browned. Add meat and brown on both sides. This will take about 15 minutes. Add boiling water, carrots, beans, tomatoes, bay leaf, Kitchen Bouquet and additional salt and pepper if desired.
Cook on top of stove over low heat, tightly covered with aluminum foil. Cook 20 minutes, unwrap foil, baste and reseal. Continue slow cooking and basting every 15 minutes, turning meat over once during cooking. (This will be difficult as the meat becomes more tender. Use two spatulas, making sure you scrape all the caramelized bits of onion and garlic from the bottom of the pan.) You may also need to add water when you baste to keep meat moist. Cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until meat is fall-apart tender.
Remove meat from roasting pan with vegetables, but leave drippings in pan to make gravy. Discard bay leaf.
Pot roast gravy: Add 4 to 6 tablespoons of flour, bit by bit, to the drippings in the roasting pan, stirring as you add. When the flour is browned, add 1 to 2 cups boiling water and salt and pepper to taste. Stir over low heat until slightly thickened. Serve over roast and mashed potatoes.
Recipe from Square Meals by Jane and Michael Stern
Sunday, February 09, 2003
Slow-Cooked Pot Roast Recipe
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 pound boneless beef top round steak, cut into serving size pieces
4 medium potatoes, peeled, each cut into 6 pieces
4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
14-ounce can beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Combine flour and pepper in a small bowl. Add round steak pieces to flour mixture; turn to coat both sides.
Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium high heat until hot. Add beef; cook 2 to 3 minutes until browned.
In a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, combine potatoes, carrots, onion; mix well. Add bay leaf. Place beef over the vegetables. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the broth and Worcestershire sauce over top of the beef and vegetable mixture. Cover; cook at low setting for 8 to 10 hours. Remove beef and vegetables from slow cooker with a slotted spoon. Cover to keep warm. Pour liquid into a medium saucepan.
In a small bowl, combine remaining broth and cornstarch; blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute or until thickened. Serve sauce over beef. Serves 4 to 6.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 300 calories; 3 grams fat.
Thursday, April 29, 1999
Try buying grass-fed beef. The flavor is much more intense and a bit gamey, like a more powerful beef. The steaks probably aren't ideal, because there's less even marbling, but the lower-priced cuts are amazing, and the ground is the best I've ever tasted. It's great to be able to just make simlpe meatballs with basic seasoning and have them taste terrific, without having to overload on spices to make up for the poor quality of the meat. Plus, nutritionally, it's apparently much better, higher mineral content and better fat/cholesterol. (CDL? IO don't know much about this stuff.)
Pot roast is one of my all time favorite cold weather concoctions...but, it can get a bit repetitive. So, I've done some variations on a theme over the years. In fact, I just made pot roast this past Sunday and we enjoyed it immensely.
Here are a few things I've done over time:
Added dried porcinis, sun dried tomatoes (juliened, dried tomatoes), tomato paste, dried celery (also works as a thickener), daikon, root vegetables like turnips and parsnips (the latter instead of carrots), pearl onions...just get creative.
I also season mine liberally with salt (crazy salt in this case as it has other herbs and spices in it), pepper, and a touch of cumin. Once seared on all sides, in go my onions and a liberal amount of crushed garlic. Back goes the roast, liquid (usually beef stock or a mixture of mushroom stock and beef with sometimes a touch of light bodied red wine), sun dried tomatoes, and a couple of rosemary branches and some thyme branches. Once it comes to a boil, it heads to an oven covered at 375 F for 3 hours, turning halfway through.
One hour before it comes out I add my root vegetables, potatoes and fresh mushrooms (dried go in earlier). I usually dice my vegetables fairly small so they cook, but big enough so that they don't disintegrate.
I've found that a few extra ingredients like the dried tomatoes add a lot of flavor to the meal. The rosemary also helps.
I usually serve it with a garlic mashed potato dish.
I don't know whether this is something you would like, but I have a fun recipe that calls for sauteing chopped onions and garlic first,maybe along with just a little oregano, then (along w/salt and pepper) rubbing the meat with cumin and chili powder (or I like to use Stubb's barbecue rub) before searing it and then topping it with a can of hot chili beans. Then just let it cook long and slow, like you did (only don't turn it--let the beans sit on top). This tastes great, and you can shred the meat and make tacos or burritos with the whole mess.
Add some tomato paste- it will give the flavor a nice richness. If I buy the cans of tomato paste, i usually freeze individual tablespoon sized portions. Just put the tablespoon or so on some plastic wrap, and freeze all of the portions in a zip lock bag. Tomato paste is great in gravies, stews and slow cooked meals.
Yes, it sounds like you seasoned your meat but not the mirepoix/sauce mixture which would def. contribute to blandness.
For more depth of flavor, I sometimes add 1-2 Tb. of tomato paste after I have sweated the veggies and before I throw in my liquids. Or I will toss in a small can of diced tomatoes. If I need more liquid, I usually add beef broth in addition to red wine.