Last Christmas I made the best chuck beef pot roast. You all know I’m about simplicity and not over-complicating recipes needlessly.
This is one recipe I have to share it with you before the holidays in case you want to try it. It isn’t quick, but it certainly isn’t difficult either.
Perfect on the First Attempt
This was my first pot roast and I was going to be serving 8 other people who were coming over for the Christmas Eve dinner… oh and they were my in-laws so no pressure right?
I did quite a bit of research on how to prepare the best pot roast, read a lot of recipes and articles, and watched multiple videos too. I should have done a video myself for this year, maybe I’ll do it later and add it in.
If you’ve never made pot roast, especially for others, it can be daunting. Sounds so Betty Crocker-ish that it makes you wonder if we’re up to the challenge.
The recipe I ended up using was a combination of two recipes from two other cooking sites, one being The Pioneer Woman whose images for how to brown the beef helped me overcome my intimidation of that part.
I also used some tips from America’s Test Kitchen to modify her recipe. The combo of the two are what is discussed in this post and is the recipe I’ve since used a few times with utmost success.
If I could do it on my own with great success, so can you!
How to Avoid a Heavy and Tough Pot Roast Disaster
Since I’m not a meat and potatoes person, when I thought of a chuck pot roast as an option for the Christmas eve dinner, a few words came to mind: heavy, fatty, tough and starchy.
The recipe I’m including below helps to avoid producing a tough, rubbery yucky pot roast. The secret is time and temperature and a few other tips I give.
What is the Difference Between a Roast and a Pot Roast?
I learned a few things along the way that will help you too, such as understanding the difference between a pot roast and a regular roast. What’s the difference?
A pot roast cooks in a pot with liquid filled up at least half way, and uses “chuck eye”, which is a tougher and fattier cut of meat.
You can see in the image what mine looked liked after it was done cooking – it was nowhere close to dry!
You can do a regular roast which is more like a dry roast meaning it isn’t sitting in liquid while it cooks. This is key, and I chose to do a pot roast and so glad I did.
Chuck is chuck, it is not a nice tender cut that can substitute for a filet mignon, right? This is why when you do searches for pot roast recipes, they always talk about using a slow cooker, or cooking for a long time. This is not a quick cooking dish!!
Try to Use Grass Fed and Organic if You Can
This is not a requirement but I’d be selling myself short if I didn’t mention it. We are 100% sold on eating grass fed organic beef for many reasons, and we do a lot of talk about how great it is.
There’s a big difference between grass fed quality and grain fed… unfortunately there’s a big cost difference too. Either way, the principles for cooking techniques are the same.
So last Christmas we ordered 10 pounds (7 for the meal and 3 for freezing for later use) of grass fed organic beef from a grocery store called Heinen’s here in Northeast Ohio.
Why Am I Using Chicken Broth for Beef?
I read at America’s Test Kitchen that chicken broth adds a nice balance to the beef and that by only using beef broth it was too unbalanced. I figured they are probably right because we’ll be creating our own beef broth anyway with the roast.
I didn’t have broth so I used bullion which I’m glad b/c sometimes broths have too many herbs which alters the flavor. Therefore, I recommend using bullion, not broth.
What About Adding Potatoes?
One great tip I learned from The Pioneer Woman’s recipe was that by cooking the potatoes with the roast you lose the firmness of the potatoes and they often just get mushy.
She recommended serving mashed potatoes and use the beef juice over top. I took her suggestion and she was so right!
How Long Does it Take to Cook?
Surprisingly, America’s Test Kitchen cooked their roast for a shorter time at a higher temperature for the mere reason that cooking at a low temp just simply takes longer. I guess that’s okay if you have a more tender cut of beef.
Frankly, the longer at a lower temp the better. In addition, grass fed can sometimes be leaner meat because the cows are more muscular and not fat like they are in the production style cages that cause them to fatten up due to terrible feed and immobility.
Our beef was soooo tender! My father in law commented he hadn’t tasted beef like that since the 60s. And you know what? He’s probably right, because in the 70’s they started feeding cows grain and in the 90s the grain became GMO grain… thus totally altering the meat
I hope you enjoy the recipe! You can print it out below.
Best Pot Roast Recipe
- 7 lbs chuck roast 3/4 lb per person is a standard serving size
- 3 large onions peeled and halved/quartered
- 5-8 carrots cut in thirds
- 1 Cup dry red wine
- 3/4 Cup chicken bullion
- Distilled water
Coat the beef with salt and pepper generously. Feel free to leave on any strings that are holding the roast together.
Brown it on all sides at a high heat on the stove in a large dutch oven or large pot that can be put in the oven covered. Browning takes about 1 minute per side - make sure it is literally brown on all sides! You want a nice almost burnt looking texture. Don't be shy.
Remove from heat (place on a plate)
Add the onions and carrots to the pot and brown those too. Add more oil during this whole process if you need to. Browning the vegetables won't take long, remove from heat when done.
Reduce heat to medium
Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan while using a spatula to loosen the burnt parts that are stuck to the pan.
Add the meat back into the pan
Pour in the chicken bullion
Fill the rest with the distilled water until the roast is covered halfway in liquid.
Add back in the onions and carrots
Cover tightly and cook in the oven at 260 F for 4-6 hours depending on how much meat you have. I cooked mine for 6 hours which came to about an hour per pound.
When roast is done, temp should read at least 165 F internally.
Save all the juice and don't bother with a traditional gravy. This type of beef broth is exactly what you want to serve and have on the table. Pour it over the beef when serving. Goes great with mashed potatoes.