Cook the Book: Perfect Pot Roast

"All of a sudden my house smelled more like my grandmother's house than my own."

Chuck roast. [Flickr: joshbousel]

20091026thepioneerwomancooks.jpgThere are so many things that I love about fall—the crisp air, pulling on that first wool sweater, smelling smoke that is from a chimney (not a barbecue). But my favorite thing about the fall is that it marks my official return to the kitchen. I keep my stove and oven use to a minimum in the summer but when the weather gets cold I can fire up all of the burners and not worry about turing my kitchen into a mini inferno. In other words, let the braising begin...

This Perfect Pot Roast from The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond was my first foray into the world of slow and low cooking this season.

My usual braises are typically more complicated affairs but this one was a cinch—just salt, slice, sear, and stick it in the oven. Against my better judgment I followed Drummond's advice. I didn't poke or prod the roast at all during the cooking time. I let it cook for the entire four hours without even a glance into the pot.

An hour went by and I waited for the meaty and braise-y aromas to start emanating from my oven. Sometime during the second hour, it happened. That warm smell that only occurs when you just do happen to have a very large piece of meat slowly releasing it's flavorful juices in your kitchen. All of a sudden my house smelled more like my grandmother's house than my own, and it was then that I knew: this was truly a perfect pot roast.

This was one of those dishes that I didn't even have to taste to know it was spot on. It emerged from the oven looking like it could grace the cover of any fall issue of a cooking magazine—and it smelled like fall. The next logical steps were to mash some potatoes and break out the flannel sheets.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Pioneer Woman Cooks to give away this week.

Cook the Book: Perfect Pot Roast

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About This Recipe

Yield:6 servings
This recipe appears in: This Week In Recipes

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • One 3- to 5-pound chuck roast
  • 2 onions
  • 6 to 8 carrots
  • Pepper
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 3 or 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 or 3 fresh thyme springs

Procedures

  1. 1

    Preheat the oven to 275F.

  2. 2

    Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and let it get really hot. While it heats, prepare the other ingredients.

  3. 3

    Generously salt the chuck roast on both sides. I like kosher salt because it adheres more readily to the meat.

  4. 4

    Cut a couple of onions in half from root to tip...

  5. 5

    Then cut off the tops and bottoms and peel off the papery skin.

  6. 6

    When the pot is very hot, place the onions in the oil and brown on both sides, about a minute per side. Remove the onions to a plate.

  7. 7

    Now, with the burner on high, deglaze the pot by adding 1 cup of the beef stock, whisking constantly. The point of deglazing is to loosen all of the burned flavorful bits from the bottom of the pot.

  8. 8

    Throw the carrots into the same (very hot) pot. Toss them around until slightly brown, about a minute or so. The point here is to get a nice color started on the outside of the vegetables, not to cook them.

  9. 9

    Remove the carrots from the pot and allow the pot to get really hot again. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan.

  10. 10

    Place the meat in the pot and sear it, about a minute per side. Remove to a plate.

  11. 11

    Now, with the burner on high, deglaze the pot by adding 1 cup of the beef stock, whisking constantly. The point of deglazing is to loosen all of the burned flavorful bits from the bottom of the pot.

  12. 12

    When most of the bits are loosened, place the meat back in the pot...

  13. 13

    Followed by the carrots and onions. Pour enough beef stock into the pot to cover the meat halfway.

  14. 14

    Next, put in the fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs. The fresh herbs absolutely make this dish. Tuck them into the juice to ensure that the flavors are distributed throughout the pot.

  15. 15

    Now, just cover the pot and roast for 3 to 5 hours, depending on the size of your roast. For a 3-pound roast, allow 3 to 3 1/2 hours. For a 5-pound roast, allow for a 4- to 5-hour cooking time. Don't disrupt the roast during the cooking process.

  16. 16

    When the cooking time is over, check the roast for doneness; a fork should go in easily and the meat should be very tender. Remove the meat to a cutting board and slice against the grain.

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