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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Best ever Pot Roast: Quick, easy, and oh-so delicious

Pot roast is one of my absolute favorite meals--it's filling and satisfying in every way, it's wholesome, and every time I eat it I think "dang, I could eat that every night and never get sick of it." The funny thing is, no matter HOW MANY times I make pot roast, I can never remember how I do it! How long do I cook pot roast at? What temperature should I cook pot roast at? Should I do a crockpot roast or should I cook my roast in the oven?  Should I sear my roast first? When do I add the vegetables to my pot roast again? I have to find a recipe online EVERY time.  And I can never find the same recipe. I mean, really, how can I not remember these things?! So, having made a yummy pot roast last night, I decided I'm going to write down exactly what I did!

Easy and Delicious Pot Roast Recipe

-One roast (I used a rump round roast, chuck roast is usually a bit cheaper I think...I usually buy a 3 pound roast for around $10-$15)
-Garlic salt
-Onion powder

One large onion, cut into wedges

6 large carrots, peeled and diced (I used the large setting on my ChopChop, sometimes I use a small bag of baby carrots and leave them whole)

6-8 potatoes (I used 8 smaller potatoes)
-salt/pepper (to taste)
(you can add anything to mashed potatoes: sour cream, cream cheese, evaporated milk, heavy cream, any combination of spices, bacon--do what sounds good to you)

-cornstarch (or flour)
-bouillon (I actually use a powdered form of CHICKEN bouillon--I like it better than the granules and I HATE the pain of using the cubes. I'll explain why I don't use beef bouillon below)

A lot of recipes will tell you to sear your roast first.  Usually I do. Last night I didn't.  Honestly? I didn't notice any difference whatsoever (besides the fact that I had one less pan to wash-yahoo!).  If you do want to sear your roast, preheat oil on high in a skillet, season your roast, and sear each side for a minute.

Baking options:

Crockpot: 8-10 hours on low
Place your roast in crockpot fatty side up after seasoning all sides. I sprinkled each side with onion powder, garlic salt (you could obviously do garlic powder, onion salt...or both as powders and then just add salt) and pepper.  Then I added a couple cups of water to the bottom (the water was 1-2 inches thick) and put the lid on.  It's ideal to cook pot roast on low (8-10 hours), but if you cook it on high it should be ready in 5-6 hours. Pot roasts are like sleeping babies: they do better if you just leave them alone. Don't open the lid or mess with your roast...just let it cook.

After nine hours, I opened the crock pot to throw in the onions and basted the roast while I was in there--it didn't look dry at all and I could tell it was already super soft.

At this point (an hour before serving), I started to boil my carrots in one pot (on high, already diced and in salted water), and my peeled, whole potatoes in another (on high, in salted water).  It took the carrots about twenty minutes and the potatoes about thirty to be as soft as I like them.

Returning to the roast: it's best to let your roast sit for 15 minutes before serving.  I flipped my roast over for a few minutes so that the seasoning from the fatty top could soak into the juice, then I removed it to a serving plate (I hate fat so I scraped it all off), basted it in juice, and covered it with the now soft and yummy onions.  I poured the remaining juice into a small sauce pan and turned it to medium.  

To make the gravy, I scooped out some of the hot juice into a cup and mixed it with a couple spoonfuls of cornstarch (you could use flour) until smooth and then returned that to the juice to thicken it up.  I added some pepper, rosemary, thyme (to taste), and a cup of hot water with a spoonful of my powdered chicken bouillon.  I don't use beef bouillon because I feel like it has a super strong, fake-tasting flavor.  Any time I've used beef bouillon in something (gravy, soup, etc.) it starts tasting like I dumped it out of a can, and I hate that!  Chicken bouillon adds awesome flavor while keeping things would never even know that the gravy had "chicken" seasoning in it--it just had a great, yummy flavor.  If your gravy is thick, add more water/bouillon (or just water if it's too strong). If your gravy is thin, add more cornstarch/flour. If you don't stir the cornstarch/flour into a small amount of liquid first, you'll get lumps that you'll never be able to get out.

Right before serving, drain carrots and add pepper and butter (and more salt if necessary).  Drain potatoes and mash with 1-2 tablespoons butter, a huge squirt of ranch, a dash of milk, and some pepper (as you mash you can add more of anything to make them creamier or more flavorful). I mash my potatoes with my hand-held electric beater.

And, voila, you have a yummy, awesome pot roast that everyone will rave over!

Baking a roast in the oven:
If you want to bake your pot roast in the oven (it's faster, so it's a great option if you forgot to throw it in the crockpot)--preheat oven to 275 and bake in a covered baking dish for 3-4 hours (depending on size of the roast...though I lean towards 4 hours even for a three pound roast).  You'll want some water in the bottom (same as with your crockpot) and you can throw your vegetables in there too, but if you cook them the entire time they'll be pretty mushy by the end.

When do you add vegetables to your roast? If I'm not doing mashed potatoes, I'll throw my cubed potatoes, carrots, and onions into the crockpot about two hours before the roast should be done (maybe an hour and a half before it's done if your adding them to a roast in the oven).  You don't want to open your roast because you don't want it to dry if you do open it to add something just make sure you baste your roast in juice before closing it back up again.

And there. Now you (and by "you" I really mean me) have one place to come for an awesome roast reference whether you're making a pot roast in the crockpot OR cooking a roast in the oven.


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