How to Prepare a Pot Roast

How to Prepare a Pot RoastGotta rump roast and the better part of a day to kill? Here are a few pointers and steps to prepare your roast so that you can get it into the oven and out of the way, until it’s dangerously tender and ready for your plate.

Rump and chuck roasts are often used for pot roast; seven-blade roast used to be standard, but isn’t commonly available pre-cut these days. Look for good marbling, which will lend itself to a tasty, melt-in-your-mouth roast.

Before anything else, rub the outside of your roast liberally with salt and black pepper. Ree from The Pioneer Woman Cooks recommends using kosher salt since it sticks better, but any kind will do.

This is all you’ve really got to do to season the outside of the meat. Optionally, cut raw garlic cloves in halves or quarters lengthwise, and use the tip of your knife to pierce the roast and stud it with garlic in several places.

Since pot roast is braised (slow-cooked in a pot of liquid), searing it beforehand gives it some nice color. It’s also a great way to get some sucs (crusty, flavorful brown bits) going, which will enhance the flavor of your braising juice later on.

If you’re going for a classic American roast with onions and carrots, you’ll want to sear those veggies, as well. Peel onions and cut in half from top to bottom, discarding ends. Wash carrots and cut diagonally into couple-inch pieces.

Heat a pot big enough to fit your roast over medium high heat, and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. When it’s good and hot, cook your onion halves for about a minute on each side, until they’ve just got a nice char. Remove to a plate and repeat with the carrot pieces, and then finally with the roast.

Check out Monday’s post on how to deglaze a pan—pour in your liquid(s) of choice and get all of those brown bits mixed in.

There are lots of ways you can proceed from here. If you’re going with classic American style in the oven or on the stovetop, return your seared meat and veggies to the pot with the deglazing liquid plus enough to cover your roast one third to halfway up (a couple of cups tends to do the trick); throw in some fresh herbs and you’re ready to go. A neat trick is to arrange your carrots side-by-side and use them as a rack. You can also transfer everything over to a crock pot and slow cook it that way.

And there are lots of other styles you can apply. Italian recipes are made with tomato sauce as the liquid and served with spaghetti. Mexican pot roast, cooked with a tomato and chili sauce, makes great tacos.

Whichever route you take, make sure to give it plenty of time to cook long and slow—what makes a pot roast fantastic is that buttery tenderness that pulls apart easily with your fork. In my pops’ words, it shouldn’t come out until it’s “absolutely falling apart.” Thanks for the tip, Dad!