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Help me with my pot roast please!

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By all accounts from friends and family, I am a good cook. I can make and master almost anything. However there is one "classic staple" that I cannot seem to get right, no matter how many times I have tried. Pot roast: the one dinner I cannot seem to get "right". I have made a goal to finally be able to do a great pot roast. I have tried repeatedly, using different cuts of beef, on top of the stove and in the oven....but each time it always comes out dry. The carrots onions and potatoes always are amazing, the roast itself meh... Mind you it is falling apart tender and there is plenty of gravy but the meat itself is dry. Yes I make sure to use the fatty cuts of meat and don't trim. What am I doing wrong? Please, please, please! I beg you, send me all the tricks your Bubbe passed down to you for her beloved pot roast. While I am mostly requesting cooking tips and suggestions, I would also love to receive time tested family recipes - grandma's recipes are always the best! My only request is that due to a food allergies of one of the family, the recipe cannot contain tomatoes or barley.

I know my fellow hounds will come to my rescue and share their wisdom so that I can finally master this classic dish. Thank you all so very much!

PuniceaRana

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  1. It's possible you just don't like pot roast. If you're using fatty cuts and not trimming, we're on entirely different pages, so I doubt I'm much help, but there are various ways to use the liquid, which takes a lot from the meat and needs to be part of the finished dish. I usually defat (!!!!) it carefully and reduce it for a sauce, but that's just me.

    9 Replies
    1. re: oldunc

      Oh but I love pot roast! I have had many wonderful versions. And I always de-fat the liquid before thickening and serving it as the gravy. I guess I should have stated that I use the "cheaper/fattier cuts" that are recommended for pot roast, I have tried chuck, and brisket, even once tried a seven bone roast that someone swore by, but sadly mine always comes out with dry meat. (despite all the gravy in the pot!) I have tried the browning it and then simmering it on top of the stove as well as the browning it and then cooking it in a low temp (275/300) oven.

      1. re: PuniceaRana

        For how long?

        1. re: acgold7

          It was about a 3 lbs roast, and I seem to recall it cooked for about 4 hours

          1. re: PuniceaRana

            Hm... Sounds about right. If you have access to a Crockpot, try the Crockpot method suggested in the thread below.

        2. re: PuniceaRana

          I'm a Portagee- we traditionally use rump roasts for pot roast. I should probably stay away from meat threads- a lot of the stuff people seem to be aiming for when they cook meat I find actively disgusting. I'd probably be a vegetarian if I had an ounce of integrity, but I love pot roast too.
          I've never done it myself, but a tri tip might get you where you want to be- they're generally well marbled and have a very open texture.

          1. re: PuniceaRana

            Try adding some balsamic vinegar or cheap, dry, red wine next time. Also, try rubbing the roast with a little kosher salt before you sear it, just be mindful of what's going into your base and don't over salt!! Both of those, the vinegar/wine and the salt will help tenderize and activate the natural juices.

            I also get much better luck using consomme rather than regular beef broth for my base. Oh! And make sure you have a tight, tight seal on whatever vessel you're cooking it in. I use a heavy ceramic and cast iron dutch oven. Roast is one of my favorite dishes to make, if you would like I'll reply with the recipe :)

            1. re: mauneym

              "...if you would like I'll reply with the recipe."

              Yes, please.

              1. re: DoobieWah

                here's yet another to try: http://www.domenicacooks.com/2010/11/...
                Gabriella's Pot Roast: Domenica Marchetti is my sister-in-law's neighbor/friend - they just returned from DM's brother-in-law's wedding in Hawaii with a stop in San Francisco. The recipe is from DM's mother.
                I like pot roast from chuck - I can find it on sale for $1.69 lb. Of course, you probably have better pricing in Houston?
                I, too, am waiting for mauneym's recipe ...

                1. re: Cynsa

                  Thanks, Cynsa.

                  Hope you had a great trip.

                  ;-)

        3. What cut of meat are you using, and how are you cooking it? Chuck will stay moist but Round will not. The Flat cut of a Brisket dries out but the Point does not. All depends on the cut and the amount of collagen within.

          Speaking of Pot Roast:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/801790

          1. And temperature. Can you describe your method?

            1. I could never make it myself until I tried a recipe I saw on FN Down Home With The Neelys. I'm not a big fan of theirs, but Momma Neely's Pot Roast is delicious, IMO. I omit the garlic (trust me) and double the wine. Sooooo good!

              1. Try using a flat cut of brisket. It will take three or four hours, but the flavor is out of this world.

                1 Reply
                1. re: RGC1982

                  Yeah, but if the problem is dry meat, the Flat Cut isn't a good choice -- it's the driest part of the Brisket. All the fat is on the top layer and there's no marbling to speak of. The Point is better.

                2. get a chuck roast. Go to food.com and make the recipe called perfect pot roast. It's the same one that is on Cooks Illustrated. Trust me.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Floridagirl

                    +1 on the chuck roast, then follow chickennosenshi's technique. I cook a little bit higher temp, but it never seems to fail.

                  2. I use the simplest recipe for pot roast I have ever seen, I got it from my mom. All you need is an arm or shoulder roast, baby carrots, potatoes (I use baby red skin potatoes with the skins on), and onion cut into sixths or eighths so they are in big peels, and a couple of cloves of garlic. For the gravy, just Lipton Onion packets and Cream of Mushrooms Soup, a 1 to 1 ratio. Mix the soup and pour it over everything else. The more gravy you want, the more soup and onion soup you use, usually 2 of each does the trick for me with about a 2-3 pound roast. I usually put the veggies down as a bed. I use the Cream of Mushroom Soup with Roasted Garlic because I love garlic. Just put it in the Crock Pot for the day. I usually turn it on high for the first 4 hours or so, stir it and turn it down to low when I come home for lunch and let it cook until dinner time. You can add a little water if you want a thinner gravy, but I haven't ever had to do that. I hope you find a recipe that works for you! Good luck!

                    TexasFoodGirl

                    1. Are you using stock in your pot roast pot (and the salt is sucking the moisture out? Are you cooking it too fast? Too hot?
                      My pot roast is as follows-
                      Heat oil in dutch oven until hot.
                      Sear potroast on all sides to seal in moisture (I use a leaner roast, or cut the fat off)
                      add potatos, carrots, celery and onion
                      Add water, a little salt a bay leaf and some pepper
                      cook low and slow in the oven. 275 seems to work well. Cooking time changes based on pounds of meat.
                      Well this is how I make my potroast. It's not the way my grandmother makes hers, but it's the way my husband likes it. :)

                      1. I am your kindred soul -- I have destroyed more pot roasts than I could ever *begin* to count. And it drove me *bonkers* because I could make any other kind of meat - delectable pork and lamb roasts, gorgeous chickens...even boeuf bourgignonne, for heavens sake...but pot roast meant a tough, dried-out chunk of unidentifiable animal flesh.

                        I finally got it figured out...last year, I found a great price on a good-quality pressure cooker, and I tried that. VOILA. Moist, tender pot roast with nicely-cooked (not mushy) vegetables.

                        And a nothing-special recipe -- the one right out of the instruction booklet.

                        1. Braising in the oven usually will give a better result than stovetop cooking, it's a gentler heat so you're less likely to end up with dry meat. I assume you're braising in a heavy pot, with the cover on? What kind of liquid and how much are you using?

                          I prefer using a large chuck roast - all that connective tissue and fat just melts in the braise and tenderizes the meat as it flavors the broth. Here's a link to another pot roast thread, where I've outlined my method for pot roast. Never had a dry roast!
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6794...

                          And here's a link to another thread asking about the same question you did (with 61 replies!):
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/726138

                          1. This might work for you...
                            Let the roast cool completely while submerged in the gravy. Refrigerate.
                            When completely cool, extract the meat, slice to desired thickness while cold (against any grain if possible), and return the the gravy (skim fat off gravy if desired.)
                            Slowly reheat in the oven or on stovetop, covered, making sure that slices stay covered in liquid the whole time.

                            It may not be your cooking at all....I know that there have been times when I have the most lovely pot roast, but if I cut into it while steaming hot, or leave it out of liquid for a long time, it just seems to dry up.

                            Good luck!

                            1. I'm sure I'll hear about how terrible cooking bags are but this works and it will NOT be dry, I promise. It's the only thing I tried a bag for (because I hated the cleanup after pot roast).

                              Get the large size cooking bag (not the turkey one, it's too big and it won't brown), do the flour shake and then put your chuck roast in there or a blade, doesn't matter, fattier the better IMO. add your potatoes, quarter some red onions, carrots, some sliced garlic. i use a lot of different spices, mostly basil, oregano, etc, italian style I guess. put some butter on top of the roast, add enough water (or stock) to be about 1/8 or 1/4 of inch up the side of the roast when you tie the bag closed. Don't forget to put holes in the bag first. Roast it at 350 until it's fork tender (you can stick a fork thru one of the holes), it tends to brown better if you do 350 because it's in there longer, just depends how hungry you are. for a 3 lb roast it's about 2-2.5 hours. I guarantee you it will be tender and moist. It will brown along with the veggies too. If it's not quite as browned as you like you can increase the temp to 375 toward the end or open the bag at the end and give it some broiler time, but I've never had to do this.

                              1. It sounds like you're cooking it for too long. This would make the meat dry, but still falling apart tender.

                                1. I use a 7 bone chuck roast. I try to get choice or angus. The bones help the flavor almost like a stock. I tried cheaper grades but they weren't the same. Trust me I had it all figured out that it shouldn't matter but it does.

                                  I start out with canned or boxed beef broth and I augment it with "Better than Bouillon" beef base. Don't use any salt. The beef base is salty enough.

                                  I always sear in a big skillet. It makes a huge difference in taste. I don't dust mine with flour. I have seen people do that. I don't seem to need it.

                                  I braise mine in an enameled cast iron dutch oven. I put the whole thing in the oven at 275-300 if I have the time or 350 if I don't.

                                  I flip my roast every hour or so. If you don't want to do this then use enough liquid to cover the roast and cook it down later. I know I know then it technically isn't braising it is stewing but America's Test Kitchen tested it and no one could tell the difference.

                                  I use some sweated sliced onions right form the first but the other veggies like potatoes and carrots, I add later so they don't have to be steamed or boiled for hours on end. I often cook them separately and just roast them. It depends on my mood.

                                  1. I generally use the 7 bone chuck, but occasionally use other chuck/shoulder roast. But the biggest issue in the past 10 years is the "leaning" of beef. I wait till prime is on sale, and use that.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: sbp

                                      Totally agree with you sbp on the "leaning" of beef, even more so for pork. Finding a decent pork chop is almost impossible!

                                    2. The Cook's Illustrated article on pot roast turned me from hating pot roast to loving it. It's worth a one month subscription to their website just to read the text about pot roasts and for their recipe.

                                      You use a meat thermometer and they recommend specific cuts. But I think the kicker is the addition of red wine to the jus at the end----for this recipe alone I always keep a cryovac box of red wine on the shelf.

                                      1. your cooking pot could make all the difference in the world. one of those thin inexpensive roasting pans could ruin any cut of meat. I highly recommend cast iron, enameled cast iron, or heavy aluminum with a cover.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Surfwench

                                          Yes, the right pan is important, I use either my large Le Creuset dutch oven or my cast iron deep "chicken frying pan" with lid (it is 9" wide and about 4.5" deep with a domed lid, which I purchased while living in Texas. I love both of the pans, but they are both heavy as heck! lol

                                        2. For me when I first made pot roasts I used too much liquids and had the same problem ( a lot of recipes say quarts or so of stock etc) I use just one half to a third of a cup of red wine but any liquid will do then cover tightly ( I usually do crock pot on low but have done oven too). Trust me meat is made of lots of juice and you will get liquid. This way you are not "boiling" your meat. At the end I add stock/cornstarch to make a gravy (I love a ton of gravy for potato leftovers BUT it is not needed in terms of pan liquid or pan juices for serving. Here is a link to a recipe that is pretty much the way I do mine.(Browning/liquid slow cook)
                                          http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pot_...
                                          good luck and happy eating!

                                          1. I wanted to thank every one for their input...it has inspired me enough to keep on trying to get it right and perfect the post roast. I have thought about trying the crock pot, but I am not sure mine is large enough to do a family sized roast complete with all the veggies...my family really loves the veggies I make with the roast, not only do I add onion, carrots and potatoes but usually some turnips and parsnips as well.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: PuniceaRana

                                              Let us know how you do and what worked for you! :)

                                              1. re: PuniceaRana

                                                I LOVE turnips in pot roast. Gotta try parsnips as well- never tried that. Good luck!

                                                1. re: 4Snisl

                                                  oh, parsnips are the bomb -- roasted, baked, fried like potato chips. Yum.

                                              2. Going stove to table is dangerous... A good rest in the pot with the liquids off the heat for a half hour lets the juices get back in during relaxation...
                                                4Snisl's recommendation of cooling, slicing and reheating is a good one...

                                                1. I like to use a Dutch oven if roasting the pot roast in the oven. Sprinkle the roast with plenty of salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Then brown until more than golden and less than burnt on all sides and around the rim (the secret to good gravy is browning extremely well). Pour in about 12 oz of water and immediately put lid on Dutch oven. This deglazes the pan and starts the steam which makes the roast moist. Place in a 325 oven for about 3 hours.

                                                  To make gravy: Remove roast to platter and make gravy while it is sitting. I like to cover the roast with a deep lid while it is sitting. Put Dutch oven on stove burner to bring to a boil and stir what is in the pot to remove any fond on the bottom. Mix 2 heaping tablespoons of flour into 2 cups water until smooth and no lumps are in mixture. When liquid in pot comes to a boil, stir in flour water mixture and stir until the gravy is the thickness you like. If it is too thin, just mix more flour and water to stir into gravy.

                                                  I use a chuck roast for this method.

                                                  I do not cook with vegetables as we like mashed potatoes for the gravy and prefer that the meat and gravy and potatoes stand on their own good flavors. I serve with gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans cooked Southern style, garden salad, and homemade biscuits.

                                                  I hope this all makes sense.

                                                  Now I usually cook potroast in the crockpot.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                    ham hock, bacon, or salt pork with your Southern green beans? how do you make your biscuits, please?