Pot roast is an American term describing a less than tender piece of meat which is browned with a sear and then cooked in liquid for a long time to create a wonderful flavor and tenderness. I recommend starting with a chuck roast for this recipe. It's an excellent piece of meat that has enough fat marbled into it and always has a delicious outcome.
As with other meats, searing employs the Maillard Reaction and is an essential first step. The Maillard Reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavor, like seared steaks and, in this case, the pot roast. After searing the meat, it roasts for an entire day and pairs perfectly with your favorite root vegetables.
Cooking a pot roast is not a rushed event but your patience will be rewarded with a tender, flavorful dinner that smells up your house on a cold winter day.
2.5 pound beef chuck roast
Tablespoon olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Beef base, beef bouillon, or beef au jus mix
3 cups water
Root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onion)
In a large fry pan, heat oil until just below smoke point. While it's heating, salt and pepper the outside of the pot roast on all sides. Place roast in a fry pan and sear each side for 2 minutes. Don’t forget the sides and ends!
In a slow cooker, make beef solution from your base and water. It should be full of beef flavor and just a bit salty. Place the roast into a slow cooker and turn on high for 8 hours. It takes a long while to break down all the tissue and fats for the meat to become tender. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you may do this on top of your stove if you have a Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. To do this, sear as normal, make beef solution, then simmer for most of the day for similar results. With the juice that is left over, make gravy. Make a roux, 3 tablespoons flour and a cup of cold water. Whisk roux to a fine texture no lumps and pour into beef mixture and whisk while heating. A delicious topping for the roast or potatoes.
I like to add my favorite root vegetables, potatoes and baby carrots, to the pot about an hour before it is finished. You can try adding your favorites — it completes this delicious meal. Perfect after a day playing in the snow! Enjoy!
David Theiss is owner of Butler Gourmet meats serving Carson City for 49 years.