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Pot roast - help!

I have scanned the boards and it seems like everyone says something different.

I am cooking a pot roast now, braising in oven. I am following a recipe that calls for a 5 lb. roast at 350 for about 3 hours. I am using a 3 lb. roast and have no idea how long to cook this thing or what temperature I should be shooting for.

Internal temp guide? Any thoughts? I am clueless, help!! I am using a meat thermometer, but isn't helpful unless I know what I should be aiming for.

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  1. Turn the over down - you'll get a more tender meat. It will take longer (and I'm not sure when you're having dinner) - at 200, allow about 3-4 hours and at 250 it will have a shorter cooking time. It's done when you're able to put a fork into the meat - the temperature is less critical here since you're trying to break down the collagen in the meat, making it tender.

    When you first begin to notice that the meat is starting to yield, at the vegetables (this is likely for the last hour).

    Remember to cover tightly in foil and put a lid on it.

    Gook luck and let me know.

    1. Just googled this...might help...

      Pot Roast Recipes Pot Roast Cuts (Nov 22/05) Safe Cooking Temperature of Beef (Nov 22/05) .... you cook your beef to a minimum internal temperature of 140°-165°F (60°-74°C). ...
      homespunfun.com/cooking/recipes/PotRoastRecipes.html - 26k - Cached - Similar pages

      1 Reply
      1. re: care11

        Collagen doesn't start breaking down until you hit about 160F.

        I know a lot of people that cook pot roast at 350F. I would go 275 to 300F but it will take a lot more time. I like to start in a cold oven and let the meat come up to temp gradually. After a 2-3 hours check for doneness. When fork tender it's done. I don't use a thermometer in post roast. I do on the smoker so I know when to foil and continue cooking.

      2. You don't need the thermometer for a pot roast. It just needs to simmer GENTLY until it is fork tender. If it boils too hard, it will be tough and stringy, so you may have to adjust your oven temp. I'm guessing your 3 lb. will take about 1-1/2 - 2 hours, but check it at around an hour. I don't think it will be done then, but test it with a fork anyway to give yourself an idea of how it's coming along. I hope this helps

        1. One of Molly Stevens great braising tips is to place parchment paper over the pot, pressing it down so it almost touches the meat/liquid. Then place the pot's top over the parchment paper. This keeps the lovely liquid circulating instead of evaporating.

          I agree with the others. Turn down the temperature and let that lovely piece of meat simmer gently. Always better the second day after you can defat.

          9 Replies
          1. re: smtucker

            I never have a problem with liquid evaporating; what I get is liquid increasing until the meat is simmering instead of braising. I have to check periodically to see if some needs to be removed with the bulb baster.

            My latest acquisition in the braising-vessel department is a 2-quart oval enamelled iron pot, a nice bridge between the little 1.5 qt and the two 5 qt pots. There was a small cross-rib roast in Ralphs' "used meat" section the other night, exactly the size for that. While a bunch of shredded onions cooked in butter in the pot, I tied and seasoned the meat, browned it in some lard/duck fat left over from the confit-making, then put it into the pot on top of the onions. Poured what was left in my wine glass into the skillet, scraped it around and then poured that over the meat. Covered and cooked it at 300º for not quite two hours. It was too small to get to the falling-apart stage successfully, but the meat was delicious sliced across the grain, and the juices were incredible. The next night I sautéed a bunch of sliced mushrooms and combined them with the cut-up meat and the juices with some egg noodles. Nice thing about cool weather - it encourages the best kinds of leftovers!

            1. re: Will Owen

              Will_Owen - you're taking the good stuff away!

              Braising is like simmering in the oven (in fact you cold do the same thing on top of the stove). Slowly simmering in a low oven to bring the temperature up gradually is the goal of a great braise IMO. The liquid within the pot turns to steam and bastes the roast so the goal is to keep the internal 'convection oven' closed. The best cover for a braise is 3 lids - the parchment, the foil, and the cover - to keep all the liquid. The pot shouldn't be opened until nearly ready and just to add vegetables and check doneness. I've even meet a couple of cooks who will also use a paste to flour and water to glue their pots before putting them in the oven.

              To get that wonderful juice thick and turn it into gravy, I remove the meat and vegetables at the end, cover, and then add some earlier prepared thick roux to the liquid and reduce on the stove.

              I agree that the best thing about winter are the wonder smells of a braise! And all the fragrant sauce that magically transforms leftover meals.

              1. re: alwayscooking

                The same here, a little roux and a little red wine and great sauce, reduce a bitand great gravy. Nothing better.

                1. re: alwayscooking

                  I understand the point of keeping the liquid in, but if it's gone from just a half-inch on the bottom of the pot to almost drowning the meat, we aren't steaming it anymore, are we? And that's what happens in my pot with my braises - a half-cup becomes almost two cups, if I don't watch it. That's why I'm a tad baffled when people go to great lengths to keep all the moisture in. Am I inhabiting a parallel universe with slightly different rules here?

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    Will - that's a well-hydrated cow you're cooking and you're treating it nicely by giving it both a steam bath and a jacuzzi.

                    Moist meat is fairly typical since it goes so quickly from the yard to the house. Modern cows are also raised to retain more water than those a few years ago - more water weight means more profit.

                    Some thoughts to try:

                    Make sure the roast fits the pot - this will require less starting liquid. Cook at a lower temperature (200-250) . Use less water or stock at first - the muscles will quickly reduce their liquid. Reduce the stock on the stove after the meat is done and thicken with roux.

                    Welcome to the twilight zone!

                    Or leave the top lid slightly ajar and have it evaporate

                    1. re: alwayscooking

                      always, although I faithfully read and enjoy your posts, I'll have to disagree with, "Modern cows are also raised to retain more water than those a few years ago ...". Ag science can do a lot of things, but this is not one of them.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Thanks for the correction Sam - I defer to your superior knowledge in this area.

                        Apparently, I falsely created a personal 'truism''. I imagined that the roasts I buy from a local butcher produced less liquid than supermarket roasts I use when out of town. Now, I learn I'm probably just justifying the extra cost in my head by unconsciously cooking them differently!

                        Makes me want to go immediately to the kitchen and experiment. And my SO who's moaning about the long winter and suffering the number of braises he's had to eat (I love the smell of braises in cold weather!) - will just have to suffer.

                        So back to alwayscooking

                        EDIT - Wonder if it's in the aging . . .

                        1. re: alwayscooking

                          always, you could never know the frustration I have to put up with. Most frozen chicken and fish are injected with water! I buy pairs of frozen chicken to roast - wash, dry, rub with salt plus, and dehydrate and cure in the ref for four days. Get rid of the introduced water, make it so the skin will crisp, ... but what a pain in the ass. But all worth it.

                      2. re: alwayscooking

                        The last time I braised a chuck roast, I got a really nice gravy just by including 2 T of tapioca in the braising liquid, a 12 oz bottle of beer.

              2. Well I'm sure it is already done. 200 and 250, I'd be eating at midnight by the time I get home. I cook at 325-350, I add a 1/2 bottle beer, great braising liquid, some onions just cut in quarters, any other veggies you want. I rub a little oil salt and pepper and put fresh herbs in the pot. Bay, Thyme and some parsley. I go simple. 3 lb's about 2 1/2 hrs, depends on the cut flatter or thicker. 145-160 is adequate. I like to go 2 1/2 hrs. It has always been done and to be honest, I never checked the temp. It was just very tender.

                Veggies I like the last 1 or 1 1/2, carrots and potatoes. Don't make it too difficult.

                1. Brown the meat first.

                  Put in a preheated 200F oven for 3.5 hours.

                  Serve and enjoy.

                  1. Here are your keys:

                    1) Cook long enough, until the potroast is above 200 for awhile. It takes temp and time to turn the gross, gristly collagen-laden connective tissues into gorgeous unctuous gelatin. I usually figure an hour a pound.

                    2) Slow cooking. If you boil or simmer hard, the meat comes out tough and stringy. But this is a big piece of beef, not a little filet of fish, so you need more than a poach or it will take forever, and even be unsafe. 200 degrees is just too low, water doesn't even boil at that, though some ovens mean 200 is on for awhile, then off for awhile. Unless you have a wonderfully efficient oven and all sorts of time, I think you need to cook at 300 or at least 275.

                    3) This is why your equipment is important. A good, heavy dutch oven, whether a Le Creuset on the high end or a Batali on the value, has enough heft and weight and seal so it helps stabilize the temperature of the contents within. A good oven helps too, where not a lot of heat is lost to leaks and drafts and which is accurately measured knob to actual oven temp.

                    4) Think and plan. When and how are you going to present the dish? Keeping things covered promotes cooking and tenderness and moisture, but if you want that nice caramelized crust on top at the end, your last segment of cooking time needs to be uncovered.

                    1. Like others have stated, jfood thinks 350 too high. He braised 5# of short ribs this weekend. Brought wine/stock to boil and into a 275 oven for 4 hours. Melt in your mouth.