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Sep 28, 2007 07:14 PM

Dutch oven pot roast - How long? How hot?

I'm cooking a 5 lb. beef rib roast stovetop in a 7 qt. lodge cast iron dutch oven and have a few areas of concern...

Why brown the roast? How long should I brown for? Should I brown in the dutch oven or maybe use the oven broiler?

After browning, aprrox. what temp should I use to slow cook and for how long? I was under the impression that the longer and slower the better.

Also, I'm using a few cups of cabernet for moisture, if that makes any difference.

Thanks for the help

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  1. Yes, brown the roast because it seals in the juices. Put a bit of olive oil in the Dutch oven and brown on both sides. Add wine and beef broth. I use Italian spices and garlic. Depending on the size of the roast, the time varies. I would think for a 4 lb one I would simmer it for at least 2-3 hours. Check it to see, it should be cooked well done and very tender. If you want to add vegetables, I would put them in one hour before you think it's cooked.
    You will get a bunch of thoughts on this. It's like definite recipe.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gail

      "Seals in juices" seems to be disputed, much to my surprise...but the browning undisputably adds flavor!

    2. Rib roast is a pretty good cut of meat for a pot roast if by pot roast you mean braising the meat in a liquid. Usually rib roasts are roasted in an oven not in liquid, I think; I'd use chuck for a pot roast.

      Brown as long as you want. The purpose of browning is not to seal in juices but to intensify flavor by caramellizing the sugars and proteins on the surface of the meat and it works best if you roast in the same pan you browned in since some of that goodness will be stuck to the pan (loosened by the subsequent addition of liquid). The browner it is, and the better cut it is to begin with, the less you need to add beef broth for flavor. If you're braising the meat, you don't want the surface 'sealed' where the liquid cannot convey the seasonings into the meat.

      I would use olive oil only if I wanted the flavor of olive oil in the finished dish, otherwise, canola is fine, or, if the meat is well marbled, nothing but the fat on the meat itself.

      For a chuck pot roast, I'd cook at the merest simmer until ;you can pull it apart with a fork -- that's my preference. I'd also add onions, carrots, garlic, bay and S&P as soon as I add the liquid. I've never done a rib roast as a pot roast but I think it'd be done a lot quicker than chuck.

      If however you're not braising, I put it in the oven and not do it on the stove top.

      1. This is my pot roast recipe from an old Maine recipe book. Saute lots of onions in a dutch oven.Add beef [I use whatever is on sale],1 large can of tomato juice,I like Campbells, 2 cups water,1 beef cube, 1/4 cup[ish] brown sugar, salt and pepper. Place in oven@ 350 until fork tender.. Cook at least a few hours. Also cover the pot with heavy duty tin foil then lid. Add more water and cubes depending on the size of the meat. No need to brown meat. I like the pot roast on the sweet side,but you might not, so start with less brown sugar and taste. I also add potato and carrots about 1/2 way thru. Yummy and easy...

        1. I've only bought a rib roast once - with a gift certificate. I dry roasted it, following a cook book's recommendations for oven temperature, and meat temperature. While well marbled, it did not have enough connective tissue to require the lower temperature and long time of a pot roast. Dry roasting does not require initial browning.

          Occasionally I have browned a roast shaped piece of meat, but it is something of a pain. You can only brown one side at a time. So if the meat is roughly cubical, that means turning it half a dozen times. Plus a rib roast has the concave rib side, which would be impossible to brown. But if the primary purpose of browning is to develop flavor, you don't have to brown every part equally. During braising the browned parts will lend flavor to the liquid and to the rest of meat. In addition, the meat that is above the braising liquid gets browned.

          Come to think of it, the juices that collect on the sides and top of the dutch oven also get browned. I should put more effort into incorporating those into the finish product.


          1. Well, I've had it slow cooking for about 3.5 hrs. now. Internal temp is 150, but it's still not tender enough to pull apart with a fork. Should I let it keep simmering?

            8 Replies
            1. re: jmunn

              The meat needs to spend some time, like 30 min, around 160-180* for the connective tissue to break down if you are looking for fork tender.

              Do you mind if I ask why did you choose a rib roast? To me this is a roast that is best suited for oven roasting or grilling and served rare to medium rare. Pulling it at 125-140*. There is a good amount of fat around the cap but the center of the meat is pretty lean. For "pot roast" that is going to be braised for several hours on the stove or better yet in the oven, a less lean cut is preferred. Chuck is the king of pot roast. Plenty of connective tissue that when broken down will melt into the meat and give lots of good moisture and texture. Chuck also has good beefy flavors. Shoulder roast work okay but doesn't have as much connective tissue as chuck. Brisket is also a good choice for pot roast due to the higher amounts of connective tissue. If again your aim is to do a fork tender pot roast use an appropriate cut of meat and brown to intensify the flavors brought to the table by caramelizing. Don't shock the meat with large temperature changes after browning. Start in cool liquid and in a cold oven and slowly bring up to heat. Once your at 160* check often to see when it's fork tender. Let the meat rest in the liquid as it cools. It will soak up some of the braising liquid.

              1. re: scubadoo97

                I used a rib roast because I didn't do my research before I started this project. I am a new dutch oven user and was excited to do my first roast with potatoes and homemade gravy. I all too eagerly rushed to the supermarket, and ignorantly chose the rib roast. I was debating between chuck and rib, and ended up with the rib roast because I know how flavorful meat around the ribs is. I was not even aware that there are roasts specifically for roasting, and those for braising. It's all been a learning experience. Now I'll know what to do next time.

                1. re: jmunn

                  Yes, you'll know to check the CHOW before the next new project. So how did the rib roast turn out? If it was too dry all is not lost. Hey I took some left over leg of lamb that I grilled. Too lean for typical braise. I cut it up into little pieces and cooked it in the pressure cooker with Indian curry spices and yogurt. It did get fork tender and made a nice lamb curry and we got a second meal out if it. I love using my enameled cast iron dutch oven. It works for so many things like braises, soups, stews and even the no knead bread.

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    The roast seemed to have two different types of meat in it. More than half of it turned out ok - tender enough to pull apart in strands, but not fork tender. There was a smaller section of it that was way too lean and turned out very tough and somewhat dry. I threw out a good portion of that part. I made a decent gravy from the reduced liquids and am now relying on drowning the salvaged roast in the gravy.

                    I'm picking up a good chuck roast on Monday and hopefully it will turn out great. I need to redeem myself. I'd love to get some suggestions as to what seasonings and liquids to use for optimal flavor. I'm also still unsure as to how long I should brown for before braising.

                    1. re: jmunn

                      I cut a chuck into large pieces and salt, pepper and sometimes use a little Wondra flour and brown until I get good color an all surfaces. The meat is removed and reserved. You can deglace with a nice red wine, port, stock or even just water and added aromatics like onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, what ever you like. You don't need that much liquid but as a rule I add enough to cover at least half the meat. What I've been doing recently, I let the meat sit in the liquid to reabsorb some back in the meat and then remove the meat, strain the liquid as the vegetables have given their all. I then reduce the liquid to concentrate the flavors. If you want a thicker gravy you can add a little corn starch. After the chuck roast try short ribs. They will fall off the bone and be sublime.

                      1. re: jmunn

                        Rib roast is tender as a dry roast but will get tough if over-cooked (whihc is what happens in a braise); it's the reverse of a shoulder cut like chuck, which is tough if undercooked but tender if overcooked.

                    2. re: jmunn

                      You could, though, still use the dutch oven with the lid off, as a roasting pan. And you could use the lid while letting the roast rest.

                      If you are willing the experiment you could try a higher temperature roasting in the covered dutch oven. After all, preheated, covered dutch ovens are being used to simulate baking bread in a commercial oven (see the no-knead bread threads).


                  2. re: jmunn

                    My rule of thumb for pot roast is an internal temp of 180 for a minimum of one hour. I have never had a tough pot roast using that method.