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How much liquid in pot roast?

I'm going to try my first pot roast and have been reading and finding lots of good information but one piece seems to be missing.
Most sites/blogs etc. give an amount for liquid, 2 cups etc.
But how can they do that without addressing the size of the pot and the poundage of the meat? well in recipes i suppose they do but not in the 'tips and tricks' I've read.
Given that I do not have a recipe size and don't want to go that route - i would rather know
do you add liquid to.......up the sides of the bottom 1/4? 1/2? of the piece of meat?
I planned on browning/searing, then placing a mix of thickly sliced onion, carrot, celery on the bottom and placing the meat on that. They will flavor the gravy but be strained out. The veggies to eat (mostly carrots as those tend to be my favorite but some potatoes) will be added half way through.
So..how much liquid to add by where it 'hits' the meat seems a more flexible approach to different sizes of meat and pans.

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  1. If it's in a closed Dutch oven, the amount of liquid isn't as important as you would think. The meat itself throws off a lot too.

    12 Replies
    1. re: coll

      It will be in a dutch oven. Maybe to the bottom of where the meat hits the veggie's its resting on? I do want some gravy. My sisters last pot roast had very little.

      1. re: marys1000

        That sounds about right. You can always add more liquid if you need to, whereas if you use too much to start, your roast will end up braising more than pot roasting...

        1. re: marys1000

          That should be fine. You will have gravy.

        2. re: coll

          One reason i want a lot of gravy is for freezing. I read that if you freeze any of the cooked pot roast you should cover it in liquid.

          1. re: marys1000

            Just speaking for myself, but I always end up with too much gravy. I don't just do water but other flavorful things and next thing you know it's at least 1/3 up.

            I freeze my meat separately, and then the gravy in a different container so I can use it for other purposes, like rice.

            1. re: coll

              Blasphemy !!! There is No such thing as "too much gravy" !

              but at least you "use it for other purposes, like rice."


              1. re: Gastronomos

                Well I figure the less there is, the more concentrated, not that there's "too much"! Ever.

            2. re: marys1000

              When I used just onions, no liquid I had upwards of a quart of liquid after I skimmed the fat.

            3. re: coll

              I used a little over 2 cups of broth/wine. I checked it at about an hour and ladled some out. Did the same about an hour later.
              I'm not sure why the meat isn't supposed to be to far into the liquid? But it seemed to me from reading that its not (Whasts the difference btw braising and pot roasting?) so I just ladled it out if it seemed too high as the veggies underneath cooked down and the meat juices released.
              It turned out fork tender and looks just like it should. Not sure it has as much flavor as I'd like but i don't have a ton of pot roast experience. It was some sort of chuck roast (the names of the types of cuts are totally bewildering). Took much long than I thought to get it all together so was too late for dinner. So I'll have some tomorrow.
              Think my approach of veggie's underneath to hold the meat up and allowing for more gravy worked ok. Can probably put the carrots in earlier and they seem like they could do with roasting first for texture and flavot but that just seems like too much work! This did take some effort.
              Appreciate all the relies.

              1. re: marys1000

                I should add for anyone who reads this that I don't understand how others could get so much gravy without much liquid. I used 2 cups broth plus a chug of wine. I ended up with 2 cups plus a little after straining and defatting.

                1. re: marys1000

                  I usually use 2 cups of wine, also a cup or two of broth, and if you braise properly at a low temp (not boiling away) you should have more liquid from the meat and veggies.

                  I always have enough to strain it, reduce it by half to concentrate flavors, then add back and puree some of the cooking veggies to thicken.

                  If you have a tightly closed pot, braise at low heat and start with enough liquid to com halfway up the meat in an uncrowded pot, you should have plenty.

                2. re: marys1000

                  A pot roast is a braise but a braise is not necessarily a pot roast. You can braise chunks of vegetables, or greens, or chicken pieces, etc. A beef pot roast is braising a single solid hunk of meat. A beef stew is a braise of smaller chunks of beef, and has less, or no, brown crust on the pieces of meat.

              2. I make pot roast with no added liquid, just the juice which emerges from the meat and from onions.
                I you want to add liquid, don't use much.

                1. I have a fool proof recipe that never fails me. I use a chuck roast. Season it and the veggies and place in a brown-in-bag (or Dutch oven) (not much salt). Use potatoes, carrots, onions and parsnips. Don't brown meat beforehand and don't cut veggies too small - large chunks hold their shape better. Pour in 1 can Campbell's French Onion Soup and 1 can good red wine. The better the wine, the better the gravy. Place in hot 350 oven for an hour. Reduce heat after an hour to 275. Cook an additional 2 - 2 1/2 hours or until meat is fork tender. This slow method allows the juice to reduce and intensify in flavor. If you like a thicker gravy, drain some off before serving and thicken with a little cornstarch. Bon Apetit!

                  1. For a roast of about 4 pounds, 1/2 cup liquid is plenty as long as you cover with foil tightly, or use a good fitting lid. This will prevent juices from evaporating. You'll end up with lots of tasty broth you can thicken into gravy as your roast rests on a serving platter.

                    1. If you have enough liquid to come half way up the meat, you're good. Add stock or red wine or tomato, whatever liquid you'd like more of.

                      1. Mary, for the next time, try what I suggested for liquid - one can French Onion soup (Campbell's) and 1 can red wine. I guess that would be about 2 cups but some of that volume is the chopped onion in the can of soup. Put your peeled and seasoned veggies on top of your seasoned roast (chuck or a blade roast is fine). Pour liquid on top. As I said, I prefer a brown-n-bag because all the steam stays in and everything is very tender that way. This is a slow method of cooking so you must allow for about 3 hours total cook time. It isn't necessary to sear the meat first (braising) but you can if you want. Primarily, I sear meat such as chicken before slow cooking with a liquid as it improves the "color" of the skin. Not necessary with a pot roast. Once you put the lid on (or seal up the bag), you toss it in the oven and forget about it. Leave the juice alone. More juices will simmer out of the meat and veggies and all will cook down and thicken, making the roast and veggies delicious. I promise, you'll enjoy it like this. No muss, no fuss and the house will smell heavenly while it cooks. Remember, 350 for about an hour and then 300 for the rest of the cooking time (about another 2 hours depending on the size of the roast).

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: moniquesutton

                          Have you ever cooked your pot roast in an enamel cast iron dutch oven - I am using one today for the first time - just wondering if you had any tips?

                          1. re: moniquesutton

                            I could not disagree more with not browning the roast first, or using canned onion soup, unless you like the taste of metal.
                            Dry onion soup mix, yes. Use plenty of chopped onion, too, and other vegetables, UNDER the meat, not on top, which would prevent the development of a brown crust, which will have intense flavor. Meat should not be submerged more than half. When the top is brown, flip the meat over so the underside will be exposed, and form a crust. I also think the temp should be lower and the time longer than you recommend here, which is not what you wrote upthread. I have never used a roasting bag for anything. If, like a slow cooker, it holds all the moisture in, it's not for me, because the crust needs SOME dry heat.

                          2. Try one bottle, about 12 oz. of dark beer. Amazing flavor. Add a little water later if needed.