First time making a pot roast

colawarscolawars Pittsburgh, PARegistered User regular
edited July 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
I have a 40 oz. round roast that was given to me. I want to cook it. I have a slow-cooker/crock-pot, but it's way to small to accommodate it with accompanying vegetables. I also have an 8 quart stock pot. My heart was set on slow cooking the roast, and I don't want to have to babysit it for hours on the stove top. Can anyone guide me on some pot roast goodness?

Ideally, I'd love to include chopped potatoes and carrots with it. I've got no herbs of any sort to add, but I do have beef stock on hand.

I'd also love some tips on making gravy afterward. H&A cooking gurus, I can count on you...

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  • BoomShakeBoomShake Registered User regular
    You could potentially start it and the veggies in the stock pot and then transfer it to the crock-pot once it's all reduced sufficiently in volume.

  • CauldCauld Registered User regular
    Making pot roast is easy. Put the roast in the pot with the chopped up vegetables. I recommend adding some sliced onion both under and on top of the roast to impart delicious onion flavor. Also, put some pepper on the roast. If you have no herbs it will just be less herby, if you're ok with that then its cool. Otherwise throw in whatever you think will taste good. I usually go with a couple bay leaves, some thyme, oregano, and maybe basil.

    Fill the pan up with your beef stock and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 325ish until done, I'd start with 45 minutes and see how it is from there. the longer you cook it the more tender it will be.

    This is how my mom makes it, and although she's not a very good cook I do enjoy her pot roast quite a bit and make it the same way (except i add herbs).

    For the gravy, poor the cooking liquid from the roasting pan into a pot (try to avoid pouring in too much of the fat). Once its boiling add a slurry of cornstarch and cold water. Start with 1 tbs of cornstarch in 1/2 cup of water. If, after its boiling again, its not thick enough add some more cornstarch slurry. Remember, it will thicken when it cools, so take that into account. I like to add some pepper to the gravy as well.

    For a more traditional approach to gravy make a roux, then add the liquid.

  • AiouaAioua Ora Occidens Ora OptimaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I just made a roast last week that was awesome. I suggest getting one of these guys to cook in. They're cheap, clean easy, and will last you forever. I think I got mine at a target for like 10 bucks. Your big stock pot should work too, though, as long as it can go in your oven.
    Now, for special tips, straight from my grandma's recepie:
    Brown your roast on all sides first. This will seal in a lot of the juices when you cook it.
    I cook it in a sauce of equal parts beer and tomato sauce. Maybe a bit exta beer. Add whatever spices you find prudent. Bake in the oven at 350. I start it with a bunch of onions. It should take about three hours. Add the carrots and potatoes when there's only like a half hour left, otherwise they get too mushy.
    Oh, and if your roast has a big ol' strip of fat on one side, make sure that's on the top when you roast it. It melts down into the roast... mmm...
    He're a pic of the last one I made:
    (spoiler for hueg)

    I don't bother thickening the juice, it's plenty tasty as is. But yeah, if you want to then just add some flour or cornstarch and reduce it down a bit.

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  • Death of RatsDeath of Rats Registered User regular
    I do something similar to Aioua.

    Brown off the roast on all sides. Put the roast in one of those roasters. In a cup, mix up some onion soup mix with a glass of cooking wine. Pour into roaster. Add garlic and other seasonings (I'm a big garlic cooker). Fill the roaster up with a mixture of water and wine, until it almost covers the roast. Put into the oven at around 350-400 degrees f. Let roast for around 2 and a half hours, then add diced potatoes and either chopped carrots or baby carrots. Let cook until the meat is finished and the potatoes are done.

    Tastes wonderful.

    No I don't.
  • jamesrajamesra Chicago, ILRegistered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Cauld wrote:
    For a more traditional approach to gravy make a roux, then add the liquid.

    FWIW, making a roux is dead easy. I find I get way better results by making a white roux and adding it to the liquid than I do with the water/$starch slurry method --with that one, I always get lumps. (I'm the only person I know for whom this is true however, so this is just some alternate advice rather than a prescription)

    For a white roux, take 8 tablespoons (In the US, that'll be one stick or a quarter pound) of butter and melt it over medium-high heat in a small sauce pan. Wait until the butter stops bubbling, and begin whisking, and add 12 tablespoons of flour. Stir until the butter integrates with the fat, the cook until the smell of cooking flour just passes, and then remove from heat. Let cool, transfer to an air tight container, and refrigerate. Poof, instant thickener. In the fridge, it will harden into a soft brick, like a kind of stiff butter, which is basically what it is. Just use a spoon or a knife to put small bits into the drippings, and stir them in until you like the texture.


    You can use the roux while its hot, but the colder it is, the more effective it will be as a thickening agent, which is why I make mine well in advance and refrigerate it. Using it hot and adding the drippings to the roux is traditional, however.

    The description above will make more roux that you're likely to use for any given amount of gravy. It will keep for quite a while -I've kept mine for as much as three months - provided you keep it from exposure to air. It makes a pretty good all purpose thickener for non-reduced sauces, so it can be handy to have around, especially if you do much slow cooking.

    Regardless of how you go about this, keep Cauld's advice about the gravy tightening as it cools firmly in mind. Its really easy to over thicken the sauce over heat, and then have it tighten into a meat pudding on the plate. Which isn't bad, but people don't find it nearly as awesome as they should.

    Finally, and just as a point of interest, if you were to keep cooking the roux, it would darken and gain very impressive flavor at the expense of its ability to thicken things; lots of classic stews start by building a very dark roux as a base.

    BoomShake wrote:
    You could potentially start it and the veggies in the stock pot and then transfer it to the crock-pot once it's all reduced sufficiently in volume.

    The other quick and dirty trick, which I used a lot before my wife and I moved into a place with a kitchen big enough to open the fridge and the oven at the same time, is to brown the roast on the stovetop, the put it in the stockpot with some liquid (beer, wine, stock, water or what have you) some aromatics (onions, herbs, and so forth) and put that in an oven pre-heated oven 325 for 3-4 hours. Throw some potatoes and carrots into the pot when its 45 minutes to an hour from cooking and there it is.

    Unless you have some binding constraint, run to a store and get some thyme; a little packet of fresh thyme sprigs will cost about a dollar, and throwing it into the liquid will do you a power of good. And if you have time, seasoning the roast aggressively with salt about an hour before it goes on the heat and letting it sit and room temperature will also do you a lot of good.

    jamesra on
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  • kilroydoskilroydos Registered User regular
    The point about the roux and the liquid being at different temperatures bears repeating. This is how you avoid lumpy gravy. Either you put a cold liquid into a hot roux, which is what you do if you're making gumbo, or you put a cold roux or slurry into your hot liquid. Then you stir it in very thoroughly.

  • MentalExerciseMentalExercise Indefenestrable Registered User regular
    My favorite pot roast recipe is fairly sweet, so I have it with beer or red wine, and it's super simple:

    2lbs beef
    2 Tablespoons cooking oil
    2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
    2 Tablespoons butter
    1 cup whole milk
    2 medium carrots
    1 medium onion

    Brown the outside of the roast in your pan at high temperature then remove and season it with salt and pepper. Add the roughly chopped onion and carrot and cook for 2-5 minutes. Add the vinegar and butter and stir until the brown bits on the bottom of the pan dissolve. Add a tablespoon or two of water if you run out of liquid. Put the beef back on the bottom of the pan and add the milk. It will curdle, this is ok. Cook for 1.5 hours for a flat roast flipping every 20-30 minutes. The onions will dissolve and the milk will cook down to a mahogany brown sauce the thickness of mustard. If it gets thicker than that add water, two tablespoons at a time till appropriate. Discard the carrots. A round roast may need to cook between two and three hours, can be spun to a new side once every thirty minutes, and you'll definitely need to add a bit of water at some point.

    Amazingly simple, tender and delicious.

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    --LeVar Burton
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