Flavorful. Tender. Juicy. I’ve dubbed these qualities “the perfect pot roast trifecta.” Because is a pot roast really perfect if it’s even missing one of them?! I think not.
Now as easy as achieving the trifecta sounds, I assure you – it is not. If you want to know the truth of it I spent years chasing pot roast perfection. I was always really good at the flavorful and tender components, but my roasts were always severely lacking the juicy department.
It took more years, testing techniques, trial and error, and practice than I really care to admit, but – I got it. I finally achieved the trifecta and made the perfect pot roast. I took notes along the way. And to spare you the same agonizing torment of chasing pot roast perfection, I’m sharing my tried and true techniques with you.
To make the perfect pot roast you need to…
Fatten it up.
That’s right – you simply cannot skimp on the fat. Fat is flavor and ultimately juiciness. The easiest way to make sure you have enough fat is to choose a roast with loads of marbling (fat within the muscle) and some connective tissue. In other words, you want to look for roasts with the word “chuck” in the name.
If for some reason you can’t get a chuck roast, or that’s not what’s on sale, don’t worry – you can still achieve the trifecta with a leaner roast such as a rump or sirloin roast. Just add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil or butter over the roast just before you to cook it.
Make the most of the Maillard.
The Maillard reaction is the series of chemical reactions that happen when you sear a piece of meat, in this case your roast. The heat from searing transforms the proteins and sugars in and on the surface of the roast. These transformations produce beautiful colors, delicious flavors, and astounding aromas.
The moral here – take the time to sear your roast before putting it in the pot. By searing your roast on all sides, you take advantage, and make the most, of the Maillard reaction.
Season for success.
Choosing the right blend of herbs and spices can help enhance the already outstanding taste of any roast. But bear in mind that seasoning is super subjective. So what I’m about to share may not actually yield your perfect pot roast. But it yields mine, so we’re just gunna roll with it.
The three-envelope method, which I used to create my Juicy Sirloin Tip Roast recipe, has proven time and time again that it has what it takes to turn out a flavorful roast. The dry Italian and Ranch dressings combined the with brown gravy mix and beef bouillon kick the roast up a notch and make some over-the-top dripping gravy too.
And Tom’s Steak Rub – it’s not just for steaks. Nope. I’ve started seasoning pot roasts with this magical little blend of flavors and it’s fast becoming my favorite.
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Use a tenderizer.
No. I do not mean beating your roast with a meat mallet. I mean, you can if you want. In theory, it may help. But the tenderizer I’m referring to looks less like assault and more like acid – acid in the form of white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or the juice from banana peppers or pepperoncini.
Adding a couple of tablespoons of the tenderizer of your choice to your cooking liquid will help break down the muscle fibers. Broken muscle fibers equals tender roast. Additionally, salt has a similar effect on the muscle fibers. So if you (like me) err on the side of salty seasoning that can also help your cause and yield a tender and flavorful roast.
Cook it low and slow with some liquid.
In your trusty Crock-Pot®, on the stove top, or in the oven – cooking method matters not as long as it’s low, slow, and contains a small amount of liquid. Pot roasting requires a small amount of liquid in the form of water, juice, broth… you know, pretty much anything liquid that will pair well with roast and your seasonings.
When it comes right down to it, it’s the time spent simmering in that liquid that really matters. Simmering helps break down the connective tissue. Connective tissue breaks down to collagen. Collagen tenderizes, and adds flavor and juiciness to the roast.
The size and cut of your roast will determine how long it will need to simmer. To determine doneness you can (literally) stick a fork in it. If the fork goes into and out of the roast with ease, your roast is done. It’s, as they say, fork-tender.
You’re also going to want to take care to not over-cook your roast. Over-cooking can leave your roast dry – like, require a liberal dousing of gravy dry. And I should know because I over-cooked my pot roasts for literally years.
Pressure Cook it.
If you are somewhat on the impatient side like I tend to be (at least when it comes to food and eating), you can go the pressure cooker route. All of the other rules apply. You still need to fatten it up, sear it, season it, tenderize it, and add liquid. However, instead of low and slow, you’ll be speeding up the cooking process.
The way a pressure cooker works is that it builds steam in its sealed pot so-much-so that it builds pressure. The high-pressure steam raises the boiling point of the liquids within the pot and drives liquid into the food. All of this helps the roast to cook faster all while yielding the perfect pot roast trifecta.
Again, you’ll want to take care to not over-cook your roast.
Pot roast perfection doesn’t mean always buying one specific cut of roast. It doesn’t mean using the same seasoning or even the exact same cooking technique every time. It can be achieved with a variety of cuts, seasonings, tenderizers, and cooking methods. As long as you adhere to these general rules, you’ll be on your way to pot roast perfection in no time.
Do you already make the perfect pot roast? Do you follow these guidelines? If not, what do you do differently? I love learning, so leave your tips in the comments below.
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