Slow-Cooked or Slow Cooker Pot Roast

This recipe reveals all the details about time, temperature and technique for home cooks aiming for tender, moist and flavorful pot roasts slow-cooked in the oven or in a slow cooker. Here I share four tips for better pot roasts (no more dry pot roasts! no more stringy pot roasts!) plus the science behind why a pot roast should be cooked at low temperature for a long while, ensuring that the meat's connective tissue has time to melt into that moist, silky texture that all the best pot roasts achieve.

Slow-Cooked or Slow Cooker Pot Roast ♥ KitchenParade.com, four easy tricks for tender, moist and flavorful pot roast. Low Carb. Weight Watchers friendly.

A Favorite Family Meal, Perfected. Made from Scratch, Hearty & Filling. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special.

Four Quick & Easy Tips for Better Pot Roasts

  • THE PROBLEM Even with richly marbled cuts of beef, a pot roast can turn out quite dry, drained dry of its internal moisture.
  • AN EASY SOLUTION Learn the science behind cooking tougher cuts of meat, the importance of both temperature and time. "Low and slow" is the solution but not "too low" and not "too slow".
  • MORE UPSIDE The time and temperature specifications can be learned from this recipe but applied equally well in your own favorite recipe.

  • THE PROBLEM Pot roast is made with less expensive but rougher cuts of beef. Cook it wrong, it will turn out not just dry but even worse, tough and stringy.
  • AN EASY SOLUTION Cook a pot roast slowly for a few hours, either slow cooking in the oven or in a slow cooker on the counter.
  • MORE UPSIDE This recipe? It works well either way, oven slow-cooked or in a Crockpot-style slow cooker. Keep reading, you'll learn why I prefer slow-cooking in the oven over a slow cooker. Yes, I hope to persuade you too!

  • THE PROBLEM Pot roast is one tasty but unsightly platter of sliced meat.
  • AN EASY SOLUTION Before browning the meat, cut it into smaller pieces, about two or three bites big, say. Then top the meat with some slices of vegetable, tomato and bell peppers work great.
  • MORE UPSIDE Smaller pieces means you can serve the pot roast right from the skillet, no slicing, no platter required.

  • THE PROBLEM The meat's ready but wait, we need some vegetables too. But everybody's hungry and it's time to eat.
  • AN EASY SOLUTION Cook the pot roast meat in a tightly covered pan atop a bed of vegetables, the veggies cut small for a refined look or in big chunks for something more rustic.
  • MORE UPSIDE Dinner's complete, no need to cook a separate vegetable.
Spices for Slow-Cooked or Slow Cooker Pot Roast ♥ KitchenParade.com, four easy tricks for tender, moist and flavorful pot roast. Low Carb. Weight Watchers friendly.



The Case for Using Your Oven as a Slow Cooker

Regular readers know that I’m no fan of slow cookers.

Why?

  • Slow cookers are notorious for inconsistent, even erratic temperature control, even the more-expensive ones.
  • Slow cookers tend to run hot and that means that too often, dinner "boils".
  • Worse still, the results are too often flat-tasting, all mushed together, no layers of flavor.

Frustrated with slow cookers, a long while back, I started to put dinner in the oven to cook slowly, some times in a Dutch oven, some times in a braising pan, some times in a tagine (a high-domed cooking vessel).

But I didn't start serious slow cooking in the oven until after switching to a high-BTU gas stove that just won't-can't maintain a slow simmer like an electric stove – so then it wasn't just dinner going into the oven for slow cooking, it was big pots of soups and stews.

The results were amazing!

Even so, I felt guilty using the oven as a slow cooker, especially knowing that so-so many cooks are happy with their slow cookers. I kept buying one highly recommended, highly rated slow cooker after another, hoping for different results.

I kept wondering, "Why is my experience with slow cookers so different?"

Then I heard Andrew Schloss on the NPR program Splendid Table, a great listen while cooking on Saturday afternoons, especially during winter.

Schloss is an advocate for slow cooking in the oven and his cookbook Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More (affiliate link) granted permission for me to embrace the oven as my slow cooker.

And here's the thing.

I l-o-v-e using the oven for slow cooking!

That’s the reason why many Kitchen Parade recipes include slow-cooking instructions for the both the oven and a slow cooker – when the recipe actually works out in the slow cooker, that is. (It doesn’t always. Good news. This pot roast recipe works in the oven and in the slow cooker.)

You see, at a low, even and consistent oven temperature of 200F (that's 100C and just below the boiling point of 212F), the meat safely cooks without undercooking, burning, or turning to mush, all of which I’ve experienced with slow cookers. If the dish is going to be in the oven for an extra-long time, ten hours, say, I'd even drop the temperature down to 180F/80C for even slower, gentler cooking. And if you're short on time, the temperature can go as high as 250F/120C too.

I would happily put Slow-Cooked Pot Roast into the oven before leaving for work in the morning knowing dinner would be waiting once I got home. The vegetables cook to just-tender too, even after many hours.

That’s the beauty of slow cooking in the oven!


For still more information – and recipes! – please see Slow Cooker & Oven Slow-Cooking. It's filled with supper-saver recipes and more.

What About You?

Have you used the oven set at a low temperature as a "slow cooker"?

Or are you happy with a countertop slow cooker?

What works in your kitchen, with your cooking style?

Cutting meat for Slow-Cooked or Slow Cooker Pot Roast ♥ KitchenParade.com, four easy tricks for tender, moist and flavorful pot roast. Low Carb. Weight Watchers friendly.

Back to Basics: What Is a "Pot Roast"?

A pot roast is a classic beef dish, simple old-fashioned fare and quintessential comfort food. Pot roast is seldom served at restaurants but in many families, makes for a welcome special Sunday meal especially with mashed potatoes and gravy.

A pot roast starts with a so-called "lesser" cut of beef that comes from a muscular part of the animal. Unlike a steak or a beef tenderloin that can be cooked quickly and remain tender, the cuts used for pot roast need slow cooking to achieve tenderness.

So let me get specific. Which beef cuts are best for pot roast? Look for chuck roasts and rump roasts or ask the butcher to cut two-inch thick round steaks.

Ready for oven for Slow-Cooked or Slow Cooker Pot Roast ♥ KitchenParade.com, four easy tricks for tender, moist and flavorful pot roast. Low Carb. Weight Watchers friendly.

About This Recipe

Usually, pot roasts are cooked whole and sliced just before serving.

This recipe is a little different. The meat is first cut up into pieces; wet with Worcestershire sauce; dredged (that is, coated) lightly with flour and spices; then browned. By cutting the meat into pieces up front, the pot roast can move from oven to table, no need for slicing.

The pot roast meat and vegetables may be cooked one of two ways, either in a counter-top slow cooker (aka a Crockpot) or in the oven at low temperature in a heavy, lidded pot like a Dutch oven or braising pan.

Our beef comes from a neighbor in the country who raises a small herd each year for pasture-grazed, grass-fed and corn-finished beef. Our favorite cuts for pot roast are thick-cut round steaks, chuck roasts and rump roasts.

For the most appealing tenderness and and juiciness that's coveted in the best pot roasts, the pot roast is either cooked in a slow cooker for 4 hours on High or 7-8 hours on Low or for better and more even temperature control, slow-cooked in the oven at 200F/100C for 4 hours for firm, knife-ready meat and 8 hours for fall-apart, fork tenderness.

Allowing six ounces per serving for pot roast means that a typical three-pound (36-ounce, 1360g) makes about six servings. But don't worry if you have fewer people to serve, pot roast makes for excellent leftovers, either served as is warmed up again or tucked into a pot roast sandwich or a pot roast taco. So good!

Cooking meat for Slow-Cooked or Slow Cooker Pot Roast ♥ KitchenParade.com, four easy tricks for tender, moist and flavorful pot roast. Low Carb. Weight Watchers friendly.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their restaurant recipes for home kitchens. The most iluminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!


Choose a Bone-In Cut for Pot Roast We especially recommend choosing a bone-in beef cut for pot roast. That's because the marrow bone is a total treat! When cutting up the meat, cut the cross-cut round bone out of the meat. But don't toss it! Cook the bone right on top of the meat while it roasts. When the meat is done, use a tiny-tiny spoon to scoop out the luscious marrow from the center of the bone. So good! There's just one bone in a round steak, you'll have to share! If there's another bone, tuck it into the pot if there's room, it'll add still more flavor to the pot roast.


For Tenderness and Juiciness, Pay Attention to the Meat's Structure. A beef roast contains not only muscle (what we call the "meat") but also connective tissue that provides structure and support. The connective tissue contains collagen, so do the more elastic tendons.

At 160F, the collagen begins to slowly melt into gelatin, continuing up until 180F. The goal is to cook our pot roast at a temperature that liquifies the collagen and holds it for a long period of time, allowing the muscle fibers to separate while retaining the succulence of the melted collagen.

This means that for the collagen to liquify, it's important not only to reach that all-important internal temperature between 160F and 180F but also to hold the meat at that temperature range for two to three hours.

This is unlike other cuts of meat like chicken breasts, steaks, etc. where once the all-important safe internal temperature is reached (or the desired amount of doneness), it's time to pull the meat out of the heat.

FYI there's another type of connective tissue called elastin which doesn't break down with heat; we've probably all encountered bites of stringy, chewy and basically inedible "gristle". It's not your cooking: no amount of temperature or time is gonna fix gristle.


Cook the Pot Roast at Low Temperature for a Long While (But Not Too Long) It's important to find that "sweet spot" for temperature and time, the one where the collagen is exposed to enough heat for long enough for it to melt into something silky and delicious – but not too long, which will cause the collagen to melt out of the meat, leaving a dry, stringy pot roast.

While I've had great luck with this recipe using a slow cooker, for a more controlled environment, slow-cooking a pot roast in the oven is the better choice.


Allow Enough Meat A pound of hamburger or chicken breast feeds four. But the math for a pot roast is different. First, a pot roast is about 25% bone that won't be eaten and fat that will be trimmed off. Second, it's going to shrink as it's cooked. And third, okay, sure, pot roast just tastes so good, there's no accounting for how much people are gonna wanna eat!

I've learned to allow 6 ounces (170g) of uncooked but trimmed meat per pot roast serving. Cook more than you'll need: the leftovers are wonderful!

That said, especially in a medium-depth oven-safe skillet, the amount of meat you can cook is a function of the surface are of the skillet. The pan I typically use holds about two pounds of meat, unless it's cut extra-thick, then up to three or four pounds.


For Appearance's Sake And ... it's also obvious, right? why I started adding slices of tomato and red bell pepper on top? Anything to distract from all that brown meat, no matter how delicious!

Whole roast for Slow-Cooked or Slow Cooker Pot Roast ♥ KitchenParade.com, four easy tricks for tender, moist and flavorful pot roast. Low Carb. Weight Watchers friendly.

What Makes This Recipe Special

  • The meat stays moist and flavorful, no more tough, dry, stringy pot roast
  • The vegetables cook but stay firm and delicious, even in the oven or slow cooker for a long time
  • Once you know the time and temperature for cooking a pot roast, apply them to your own favorite recipe

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this pot roast recipe hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...


Slow-Cooked or Slow Cooker Pot Roast ♥ KitchenParade.com, four easy tricks for tender, moist and flavorful pot roast. Low Carb. Weight Watchers friendly.



SLOW-COOKED or SLOW COOKER POT ROAST

Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 5 – 9 hours
For up to a three to four-pound (1400g - 1800g) piece of meat; allow about six ounces uncooked trimmed meat per serving
    MEAT
  • Round steak, chuck roast, rump roast or another beef roast, bone-in and fat trimmed
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • Splash water
    Flour Mixture (note: per POUND/450g of uncooked trimmed meat, multiply as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimentòn)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    VEGETABLE BED
  • 1 onion, diced small or in large chunks
  • 2 carrots, diced small or in large chunks
  • 2 ribs celery, diced small or in large chunks
  • 1/2 cup good beef stock or red wine or dark beer
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • Salt & pepper – be generous!
    FOR THE TOP
  • Roma tomatoes or a red bell pepper, sliced in rounds or rings

MISE EN PLACE Your hands are going to get a bit messy so before beginning to cook, put some olive oil in the skillet (off heat) and put out two bowls for the Worcestershire (ok to fill it) and flour (wait to weigh the meat) before trimming and then weighing the meat. I also like to chop the vegetables but there's time to do this while the meat cooks.

BROWN THE MEAT Heat the oil in a heavy skillet until shimmery. Cut the meat into large-ish pieces, about three or four inches wide, an inch or more thick, following the natural lines of the muscle and bone. Set the bone aside for now. Dip the meat pieces into the Worcestershire, then coat all sides with the flour mixture and drop into the hot skillet.

TIPS: Don’t crowd the meat, cook in batches if needed. Once the meat touches the hot pan, don’t move a piece until one side is brown and it’s time to flip to brown the other side. Lift out the cooked meat pieces, set aside. Add a splash of water to deglaze the pan.

VEGETABLE BED Combine all the vegetables, liquid, ketchup and seasoning in the bottom of the skillet or slow cooker. (If using a slow cooker, include the meat juices from the skillet.) If there's room for the bone, nestle it into the vegetables. Arrange the meat pieces on top in a single layer, tipping pieces on their sides if needed to fit.

FOR THE TOP For appearance's sake, arange the tomato or bell pepper slices on top. Cover the skillet or slow cooker.

TO SLOW COOK IN THE OVEN (RECOMMENDED) Set oven at 200F/100C. Cook for 4 – 8 hours (four hours for cooked but knife-ready meat, 8 hours for fork-tender meat).

FOR SLOW COOKER Cook on Low for 7 – 8 hours or on High for about 4 hours.

TO SERVE Serve with mashed potatoes or mashed butternut squash or with my favorite side with pot roast, Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits.

ALANNA’S TIPS About 25% of round steak is fat and bone. Mathematically, this means that a three-pound piece of round steak that yields 2-1/4 pounds of edible meat should be enough to serve nine. But honestly? Because these rough cuts of beef shrink while cooking, nine servings will feel like mighty skimpy portions. My best estimate is six servings. Cutting the meat into pieces is optional, but I do like its presentation and convenience for serving. If using a single piece of meat, follow the same instructions. But sure, go ahead, cook the roast whole if you like. With less surface area to cover, you'll need less of the flour-seasoning mixture. If you’re going to slow cook the pot roast in the oven, use an oven-safe skillet or a braising pan with a tight lid for browning the meat. That makes this a One-Pot Supper! If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See https://www.kitchenparade.com/2015/02/slow-cooked-or-slow-cooker-pot-roast.html.
POT ROAST WITH SAUERKRAUT Once you've nailed the basics of beef cut, time and temperature, oh! the variations come easily. For an especially good pot roast, I used caraway and fennel in the flour mixture; a mix of sauerkraut and diced tomatoes for the vegetable bed; plus a dark beer for the liquid. I slow-cooked the meat in the oven in a tagine, a domed cooking vessel whose design cooks the meat slightly quicker, say, two hours instead of four. It was just excellent!
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving, assumes Six Servings: 361 Calories; 11g Tot Fat; 4g Sat Fat; 137mg Cholesterol; 125mg Sodium; 13g Carb; 2g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 47g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 8 & PointsPlus 8 & SmartPoints 8 & Freestyle 7 & myWW green 7 & blue 7 & purple 7 & PersonalPoints
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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

Comments

  1. Anonymous2/03/2015

    Thanks for the tutorial on using the oven as a slow cooker!
    I have a recipe for slow simmered pork roast that works beautifully in the oven and is a total disaster in a slow cooker ... now I have a better idea why.
    And I can't wait to try this pot roast ... I've never made one that I thought was worth eating. And I love other peoples versions.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 51b etc ~ You are so welcome, I’m glad the idea appeals to you. As for pot roast, I know what you mean. I tried about five different techniques until settling on this one. Tough work! : - )

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have a question about smoked paprika.... I think I started reading about it in your posts, but it's everywhere so maybe not. Anyway, it sounded so tasty that I finally found some an Penzys and tried it. I really wanted to like it, but it had so much heat that I really couldn't discern the flavor. As I've aged I've (unfortunately) become very sensitive to spicy hot foods -- I love them, but even mild heat makes my nose run and I break out in a sweat. So, to get to the question, is all smoked paprika hot, or did I just get a hot batch?

    ReplyDelete
  4. GreenGrannie ~ Oh I love it that I might have been the one to introduce you to smoked paprika. :-))) But no, I’ve never had smoked paprika that’s at all hot, that’s what I love about it, it’s smoky but not hot. I suppose, however, that since there is “sweet” (regular) paprika and “hot” (regular) paprika, it’s sure possible though I’d think that a company like Penzeys would say so. The brand I get comes from Spain, it’s in a red tin can and is “Pimenton El Angel” -- and hmm, yes, here’s a hint that smoked paprika can come hot, this tin is labeled “dulce” for sweet.

    PS My Favorite Cook has this very same issue with heat! He will sweat like crazy with even the smallest bit of heat. So “I feel your pain”. It sounds like the sweet stuff is right up your alley!

    ReplyDelete

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna