Pot roast was a standard growing up, and still continues to be in my parent’s household. It requires slow cooking over low heat to ensure tender, flavorful meat.
Pot roasts typically use the tougher cuts of beef—a chuck roast or shoulder roast—which have the most flavor. The slow cooking at low heat is what melts the tough connective tissue between the muscle fibers, leaving you with tender meat that flakes apart with your fork.
This is my mother’s tried and true recipe for pot roast. She only adds a half cup of liquid to the pot because she’s able to keep the heat very low and her pot has a tight cover.
Pot Roast Recipe
In order for this recipe to work properly, let the roast sit (wrapped) for one to two hours outside of the refrigerator so that it comes to room temperature (between 65 and 70°F) before cooking. Otherwise, it will take a lot longer to cook at the low heat called for in this recipe.
- 3 1/2 lb of beef shoulder or boneless chuck roast (look for a piece that is well marbled with fat for best results)
- 2 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
- Salt, pepper, italian seasoning to taste
- 2 large yellow onions, thickly sliced, lengthwise (root to tip), about 4 cups sliced onion
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup of red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- Several carrots, peeled and cut lengthwise
1 Brown the roast on all sides: Use a thick-bottomed covered pot (oven-proof if you intend to cook in oven), such as a dutch oven, just large enough to hold roast and vegetables. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil on medium high heat (hot enough to sear the meat).
Pat the roast dry with paper towels. Sprinkle and rub salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning all over the meat.
Brown roast in pot, all over, several minutes on each side. Don't move the roast while a side is browning, or it won't brown well.
2 Brown the onions, add garlic, carrots: When roast is browned, remove from pan and set on a plate. Add the onions to the pan and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and carrots to sit on top of the onions.
3 Add roast, red wine, bay leaf, cover, simmer on lowest possible setting: Set the roast on top of the onions, garlic and carrots. Add 1/2 cup of red wine. Add the bay leaf.
Cover. Bring to simmer and then adjust the heat down to the lowest heat possible to maintain a low simmer when covered (we cook our roast on the warm setting of our electric range)*.
(If cooking in the oven, bring to a simmer first on the stovetop, then put in the oven, start the temp at 350°F for 15 minutes, then drop it to 250°F for the next hour, and then to 225°F after that.)
4 Cook several hours until fork tender: Cook for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours, or longer, until meat is tender. (If you are using a pressure cooker, cut the time by half).
After cooking 3 1/2 hours. Note how much liquid has been released by the meat. This comes from slow cooking at a very low temperature. If your pot roast is too dry, make sure the pan you are using has a tight fitting lid and that you are cooking at the lowest possible heat to maintain the low simmering.
Suggest serving with green beans and potatoes
*If you use a gas range, you may find difficulty getting the flame low enough. A tip I recently read in Cook's Illustrated suggests tightly rolling up some aluminum foil, shaping it into a skinny donut, and putting that on top of the burner to create a little more distance between the range and the pan. If you have one of those high BTU ranges, I recommend cooking the roast in the oven instead.