Pot roast can be absolutely delicious or absolutely dreadful. It all depends on the preparation. When cooked properly, it is a moist and delicate entree.
To understand the challenge in cooking proper pot roast, one must consider two components that makeup the roast: meat fibers, and collagen.
The meat fibers start to lose their moisture at approximately 140 degrees, expelling all of it by 180 degrees. But collagen, also known as connective tissue, starts to breakdown around 150 degrees, but doesn’t REALLY turn to gelatin until the internal temp of the meat reaches 200 degrees, and not breaking down the collagen creates a TOUGH pot roast.
Herein lies the problem with most pot roasts. If you don’t cook it long enough it’s tough, but if you cook it too long, it’s dry.
The trick, is to cook the muscle fibers long enough that they even though they’ve given off all their moisture, they breakdown and allow the reintroduction of liquid. Cooking the roast in a flavorful stock allows the infusion of delicious flavors once the roast hits this phase.
The breakdown of muscle fibers requires cooking the roast a full hour with the internal temperature at 200-212 degrees -a temperature easily maintained by keeping the roast immersed in water. So don’t skimp on stock, and be sure the roast stays in the oven for the full 3 1/2 hours.
3-4 lb roast – preferably Chuck
2 Tbs olive oil
3 medium diced onions
2 stalks celery – chopped
3 carrots – peeled and chopped
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 bottle red wine
5 sprigs thyme
5 bay leaves
2 Tbs anchovy paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325.
Trim the roast of any excessive “fat cap” fat.
Preheat a 5-6 qt oven safe cooking vessel with a well fitting lid (enameled dutch oven preferred) over the stove.
Add olive oil to pan.
Brown both sides of the roast in your cooking vessel
Remove the roast from the pan.
Add onions, carrots, and celery to the pan, cooking until just slightly brown.
Add roast back to the pan.
Whisk flour and chicken stock together, add to the pan
Add the bottle of wine to the pan
Add thyme, bay leaves and anchovy paste to the pan
Cover the cooking vessel with aluminum foil, put lid of pan over the top of the foil.
Place in oven for 3 1/2 hours
After removing the cooking vessel from the oven, skim liquid fat off the top of the cooking liquid.
Using a soup ladle and a sieve, remove at least 2 cups of the cooking liquid, run through a sieve into a saucepan.
Place the saucepan over medium high heat and reduce cooking liquid by 1/2.