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The Perfect Classic Pot Roast

Pot Roast is the original one-pot meal. An easy dinner that’s close to impossible to mess up, it’s been the classic choice for a cozy Sunday night meal for decades and yet it’s an equally good choice when company calls. Pot Roast turns an inexpensive cut of beef into something amazingly tender and full of flavor (and dare we say, the accompanying vegetables might even steal the show). It really is easy to make – braising is a forgiving cooking technique – but it does take time. Cooking things slow and low is what creates the magic here. We love an entire meal that comes together in one dish, and Pot Roast is no exception. In fact, it might set the standard.

There are a few simple things to know in order to get the perfect pot roast:

Pot Roast is a situation where you want a tough, inexpensive cut of beef. The reason is the act of slow cooking at low heat dissolves the tough connective tissue in those cuts, giving you that tender, pull-apart texture, as well as a velvety sauce at the end. Brisket, chuck, or round roast all work well; look for something that’s around three pounds. Make sure you let your beef sit out for an hour or two until it becomes room temperature; a refrigerator-cold roast will take much longer to cook at this low temperature.

To sear or not to sear is often a question, but we always opt for the sear. It imparts more flavor by giving you lots of lovely little browned bits to scrape up when it comes time to add liquid to the pot. If you’re committing to the time it takes to make pot roast anyway, there’s no reason to skip this step. It makes all the difference in having an irresistibly flavorful gravy in the end.

You can use a great many combinations of vegetables that you have on hand, but sturdy root vegetables that will stand up to the long cooking time work best. We generally opt for carrots and potatoes, cut into large chunks, but turnips, parsnips, and sweet potatoes all make great options as well. When it comes to potatoes, choose a waxy variety like Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes. Their texture is better with the long cooking time than something like a Russet potato.

While much of the flavor in Pot Roast comes from this single ingredient, you don’t need to resort to anything fancy or expensive to have a great result. You want to make sure that it’s a wine you’d enjoy drinking a glass of since the flavor intensifies as it reduces, but any middle-of-the-road Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir that you like will work well.

The perfect Pot Roast is well within any cook’s grasp. Choose the right ingredients, don’t rush the process, check occasionally to make sure you don’t run out of braising liquid, and you’ll be more than happy with the end result. Enjoy!

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