Pot roast can be boring and bland, full of dry, stringy meat, stubborn bits of fat, and wan gravy. The folks at America's Test Kitchen wanted a meltingly tender roast sauced in savory, full-bodied gravy.
To start, they separated the roast into two lobes, allowing them to remove the knobs of fat that refused to render, which also shortened the cooking time. Salting the roast prior to cooking improved its flavor, as did sautéing the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic before adding them to the pot.
Some recipes use water as a pot roast cooking liquid but when they tried it, the gravy turned out as you'd expect — watery. They had better luck with beef broth. Other flavor-boosting ingredients went into the pot as well: garlic, tomato paste, red wine, thyme, and bay leaves. The resulting gravy boasted a rich, complex character, but its flavor didn't stray from the dish's simple roots. Finally, sealing the pot with aluminum foil before securing the lid concentrated the steam for an even simmer and fork-tender meat.
Watch the video above and then visit America's Test Kitchen for the recipe. (Free registration required.)