Curiously, Pot Roast is not roasted. It’s cooked with a moist-heat cooking style called “braising.” Braising involves cooking food in a covered, moist environment at relatively low heat for hours. The result is tender and flavorful and is often enjoyed in quiet obsession.
Braising is a cooking style that is often used for less-tender cuts of beef and pork. The classic cut of beef for traditional Pot Roast is chuck steak. I usually use about a 4 pound cut. Other possibilities from the chuck cuts include chuck eye, arm roast, flat iron steak, brisket and shins. Some of these other cuts come in smaller portions but the chuck roast, arm roast and brisket are usually sold in the larger, 4 pound range.
What makes chuck so perfect for Pot Roast is its flavor and the amount of collagen in the cut. Braising brings out the flavor and causes the collagen to melt into the meat leaving it super tender and full-flavored. In a pinch, any large cut of beef on sale will also give your great results with this recipe, but if you have a choice – stick with chuck.
The key to this recipe is a one two punch. You’re going to start on the stovetop and finish in the oven. The primary thing you want to accomplish on the stove is caramelization. Caramelization of the vegetables and the chuck. This involves sautéing both in olive oil or Canola oil before all the ingredients go into the pot. I prefer a cast-iron, dutch oven without the legs you often see outdoors. I do everything in the pot from the beginning sauté of the vegetables to the browning of the chuck to the final finish in the oven. If you don’t have a cast iron dutch oven, any large pot with an oven-safe lid will do the trick. Here’s the secret ritual and the alchemy that leads to this simply wonderful dish.
4 lb. Chuck Roast
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp Olive Oil or Canola oil
6 large carrots cut into large, stew-size pieces
6 peeled potatoes cut into large chunks
2 large Spanish onions cut in eights
1 8oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes and juice
6 cups of beef broth
2 cups frozen peas
1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325°. Dust chuck roast on both sides with flour. In a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil and brown roast on both sides. When browned, remove from pot and add remaining 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil and onions and carrots. When onions start to brown on edges add potatoes and occasionally stir over the next 5 minutes. Deglaze with tomatoes and return chuck roast to the pot and add broth. Bring to a gentle boil, cover and put into oven for 3/12 hours. Add frozen peas to pot and leave in over for another 30 minutes and remove pot from oven and skim fat from surface. Add corn starch to 1/2 cup of water and pour into broth and carefully stir into pot without breaking up tender vegetables. Remove to a deep dish platter or serve from the pot in large bowls. Great with crusty bread on the side. Salt and pepper to taste.