There are lots of reasons to love pot roast, my favorite being how wonderful it makes the kitchen smell. That, and the fact that with just a long, slow simmer and very little prep it yields tons of delicious servings. It’s also a great use of an economical cut of meat, and terrific for make ahead meals–pot roast is one of those miraculous dishes that taste even better after it sits for a day or two.
Here’s one of my all-time favorite recipes for this phenomenal dish: Slow-Cooker Cinnamon Pot Roast opens in a new tab. Cinnamon sticks in the recipe give it just a hint of the exotic and make it one of the most aromatic, intriguing roasts I know. Garnish it with chopped mint for deep, fresh flavor, or stick with parsley for a more traditional roast. You can watch the how-to video opens in a new tab for all the details on this dish, and read on for more background and recipes.
Pot Roast Know-How
Choosing meat. Go for the tough, bargain cuts. You want a hunk of beef with lots of connective tissue and very little fat — the opposite of what you want in a steak. Slow cooking will break down the connective tissue, leaving your meat succulent and easy to slice and turning your braising liquid into a thick, mouthwatering sauce. The most popular cuts are chuck, round and brisket. Most recipes can accommodate any of these, so choose whichever looks best (or is on sale!).
Cooking methods. Any method that gives you even, low heat for braising is ideal. Slow-cookers are a favorite since they simmer unattended while you work or play; your roast will be done in about 3 to 4 hours on the cooker’s high setting, 8 to 10 hours on its low setting. You can also cook pot roast on the stovetop in a Dutch oven or heavy pot with a tightly fitting lid for about 2 1/2 to 4 hours, or in the oven set at about 325 degrees F for a similar amount of time. Most recipes will work with any of these methods.
Liquids to use. Here’s the fun flavor part: You can cook pot roast in just about any liquid you like. If you love beer, go ahead and splash a bottle or two into your pot. If you want to use up some of that jug of apple cider, go for it! My favorite braising liquids are red wine and the juices in diced tomatoes. Other popular options include beef broth, mushroom broth, white wine and plain old water. Pot roast needs moist heat to stay tender, so make sure that you have enough liquid to come up a third to halfway up your meat.
Veggies! A great thing about pot roast is cooking vegetables right in with the meat. Root vegetables are the classic: Carrots, parsnips, onions and potatoes will mingle with your meat and liquid for fantastic results. I also like fennel, tomatoes, shallots and mushrooms. When you add veggies to the pot depends on your recipe or your preference. Sturdy vegetables will do fine for hours of cooking, but if I have a choice I often add them mid-way through cooking so that they have a bit more bite to them.
More Great Recipes
Five-spice powder oyster sauce in a pot roast? It works! Try this Asian Pot Roast opens in a new tab for a terrifically fragrant dinner to pair with rice.
For a very fresh, tasty stove-top pot roast you can’t beat Mediterranean Pot Roast with Garden Vegetables opens in a new tab. The combination of herbes de provence, savory olives, zucchini and cherry tomatoes with succulent chuck is a winner.
And finally, this oven-baked Brisket with Root Vegetables opens in a new tab is a fantastic dish packed with some unusual pot roast vegetables: rutabaga, turnip and sweet potato.
Love pot roast? What’s your go-to recipe?