Pot Roast - A Tutorial

Few things are more delicious than a roast, when it has been cooked right.

For many years, my roasts were hit-and-miss, and I never could figure out why. Some roasts turned out fork tender, others were tough. I tried various cuts of meat. I tried drenching the roast in whole bottles of Italian dressing. I tried the little packets of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. Still, some turned out, but most were ever so slightly tough.

Fork-tender is the goal. If it doesn't fall apart, it isn't a great roast dinner.

I am glad to be able to say that I have finally discovered the secret to a roast that "cuts like buttah..."

Don't overthink it. Don't hover. Provide plenty of liquid (I simply use water) and forget about it for hours.

Two words...if you remember just two words, you will never have another dry, tough roast, no matter what the cut of beef:

Low. Slow.

Low and slow. Low heat, sloooooooow cook. If it doesn't fall apart, it wasn't in your oven long enough. Just keep some water in with that roast, cover it, and forget about it, except to check the water level.

Step one: sear your meat, front, back, and sides. (I'm not sure what constitutes "front" and "back", but you can decide...)

Salt both sides generously - coarse salt. Please, please coarse salt, not table salt.

This is what a good sear looks like. I use my cast iron skillet for the whole thing, from start to finish, from stove top to oven. Get the skillet screaming hot, and plop the roast onto it.

I love that sound.

After a couple of minutes, take your tongs, and sort of jiggle it. If it doesn't release from the pan, leave it. I know...it's scary. Trust me. Leave it another minute and come back at it with your tongs. When it has seared properly, it will release from the bottom of the pan pretty easily.

Some will take issue with me on this, but I add my herbs at this point, after the sear. I might use a sprinkling of thyme, or, like today, I might do Herbs De Provence...

My herbs did come from Provence, really and for true! A friend of mine went to France, and sent this to me, (along with some lavender...no one does lavender like the French!) and I use it generously on my roasts.

After you sear, after you add your herbs, fill the pan 1/2 way up the sides with water, and add as many potatoes and carrots as you can fit in the space around the roast. I also add garlic cloves and rough-cut onion...

Cover it and cook it how? Low and slooooooooow. (Note to self: clean the oven. Ahem.) Set your temp to 300 (or even 275) and walk away. Walk away for a very long time. Three hours isn't enough. Four hours, maybe.

I wish I had a shot of the finished product, but the family was so hungry, I didn't dare make them wait. I promise, it was fork tender and really good.

Remember - if it doesn't fall apart, it wasn't cooked long enough. Don't be afraid to leave that hunk of meat in there for hours and hours...just make sure it doesn't cook dry, and you'll have a roast so yummy, it'll make your granny proud.
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