Author Topic: Pot roast  (Read 80 times)

Offline Delmonico

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Pot roast
« on: September 26, 2019, 09:30:07 pm »
 A common question from folks is that they just got a dutch oven and want an easy first dish in it.

Well to me a pot roast is a prefect first dish, it's easy, hard to mess up and most people like a good pot roast.

The following doc is how I do it. I don't just intend this for new people, if you have never done one in a dutch oven you are missing something good.

Pot roast

This is what I recommend for a first time dish in a dutch oven, it is hard to mess up and this gives people confidence; if the first thing you try comes out good you have the confidence to try other things in a dutch oven. 

I almost always recommend a 12 inch deep, 8 Quart, dutch oven for the first one.  This is perfect for a roast of about 5 pounds and enough vegetables  to go with it.  A lot of folks think this is too big of an oven for them, most will find it?s just right and if it is a bit on the large size it may not be for long, dutch oven cooks seem to make friends quickly.  Also it?s easier to put less food in a large oven than it is to put more food in a small oven.

A traditional American pot roast (sometimes called a Yankee pot roast) is not really roasted but it is braised, it?s most often cooked with vegetables, carrots, onions and potatoes being the ones used most, but often parsnips, turnips, celery and others are seen. 

The cut of meat used is most often from the chuck, these cuts are a bit on the tougher side, but have a good balance of fat versus meat.  Slow cooking in liquid breaks down the fibers and connective tissues resulting if done right an inexpensive cut of meat that is fork tender. 

In my opinion getting a good sear is one of the most important parts of making a good pot roast; the pot roast is never as good with out it.  Searing the meat does not seal in the juices despite popular rumor, what it does it causes what is known as a Maillard reaction.  This is a complicated reaction between certain types of sugars and amino acids.  It is similar but not the same as caramelizing; the browning of the crust on bread is also a Maillard reaction.   What is called a browning agent can be used to help brown the meat and to add more flavors.  One common one that dates to the late 1870?s is Kitchen Bouquet, although soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce will also work fine., soy sauce is my favorite when I use one.

So now that we know that browning does not seal in the juices, so we should know why it is so important.  The main reason is that it adds a wonderful flavor; the second is that it adds that nice brown color to the meat, the gravy made from the meat and even to the vegetables that are cooked with the roast.   A good example of why these are both important, try this simple demonstration, cook a steak in an ordinary micro-wave oven, it will lack the color and flavor of a grilled steak, even if both steaks are done to the same internal temperature.

So let?s say we are going to cook our first time in a dutch oven, we have decided that a pot roast is a good idea, we have a well seasoned 12 inch deep dutch oven and we know how to get the coals fired up, so what do we need?   First what we need is a chuck, 7 bone or shoulder roast of about 4-5 pounds,  a bit of oil, lard or bacon drippings from breakfast, seasonings (I use salt and pepper)  and some vegetables,  to begin with lets get 7-8 potatoes, 8-9 carrots and a large onion.  (Since the size of these will vary, it?s hard to be exact) Sometimes I add a few cloves of garlic if I have some in the grub box. 

To get this started put a layer of coals on the ground, put enough down that you can hold you hand a foot above them for only a second or two.  (The amount will vary with the type of wood you use)  Put the dutch oven on top and put in enough oil or lard to just cover the bottom.  Let it heat till it is just showing a hint of smoke, toss the meat in the oven and leave it in a couple of minutes before turning.   The browning agent can be added at this time if desired along with the salt and pepper.  (If using soy sauce you may want to not add the salt and taste it later in the cooking,)

When the meat is well browned add enough water to cover the meat about half way, this provides the liquid for the braising and the water also loosens the particles left by the searing and allows them to spread during the slow cooking, it is the moisture and the low temperature that tenderizes the meat.  (Most recipes call for too high of a heat, this allows the roast to be done in about 3 hours, I prefer to go with a lower temperature and cook it 5-6 hours, 325-350F is what most recipes call for, I prefer to keep it at around 250F or so, this is what is called a very slow oven. I sometimes do bison or less fat cuts of beef and with those I put some butter on top then add the vegetables.   

As the roast and the liquid heat up, adjust the coals so that it has just a very light bubbling action, this will have us real close to the desired heat, then a few coals on top will help maintain that temperature. 

Another way the way I make my roast compared to what most recipes call for is that after I get the temperature in the oven stabilized to around 250F or so I add the vegetables and let them slow cook on top of the roast, completely out of the liquid.  This makes the vegetables nice and tender, but does not turn them to mush like cooking them in liquid does.  Also this time slow cooking allows some of the broth to creep up into the vegetables by capillary action; it gives them a good extra flavor and a nice color.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2019, 09:50:44 pm by Delmonico »
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Offline Professor Marvel

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Re: Pot roast
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2019, 04:18:33 am »
Thanks Del, heres another one I need to pront off and put in my 3ring ?cookbook?

The regular cookboks just don?t make any sense to me, they all want to prattle on and on about
About irrelevant female chitchat.

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