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The perfect pot roast doesn't have to come from a slow cooker! This oven braised New-England-style chuck roast with vegetables is a fork-tender, juicy, and absolutely delicious recipe that's perfect for a family dinner.
Pot roast is a quintessential meal that everyone should have in their back pocket. It's a dish that is hearty, comforting, and is exactly what anyone thinks of when you say 'home cooking'.
The best pot roast recipe is a top shelf comfort food, made with simple ingredients, results in fall apart tender beef and is incredibly low maintenance. Does that mean that this oven braised chuck roast recipe makes the best pot roast?
Well, I don't want to toot my own horn...
It's an incredibly easy recipe, a one-pot meal that doesn't need a ton of ingredients or a trip to a fancy grocery store.
It's a beautiful roast that makes for an easy dinner centerpiece any time of the year, whether it's for a holiday dinner or sunday dinner, and is perfect on a day you have other things to do like go Easter egg hunting in the backyard or have that holiday party begin on Noche Buena.
Origins of Pot Roast
Pot roast, where large tough cuts of meat are seared and slowly braised in liquid with fresh herbs and vegetables, is also known as Yankee Pot Roast. It's an American creation, specifically New England, using cooking techniques with French (boeuf a la mode), German (saeurbraten), and Jewish influences.
In other words, the American melting pot is the dutch oven in which you cook a pot roast.
Pot roast came about because the mother of invention is necessity, especially when it comes to cooking. Tough cuts of meat, full of connective tissue and fat, were slowly cooked in liquid flavored with herbs and aromatics, usually whatever people had in their pantry or root cellar, until they became savory, flavorful, and tender.
This recipe is an homage to the traditional New England recipe for beef pot roast, though I will be giving tips for variations down below.
The Difference between Pot Roast and Roast Beef
The main difference between a pot roast and a roast beef is the style of cooking. Braising versus roasting.
Pot roast is any tough cut of beef that is braised, meaning it's cooked slowly in a liquid or moist environment, to break down connective tissue.
Roast beef is, well, roasted. It's a large structure, like a shoulder roast or rump roast, cooked in dry, high heat.
The high heat will result in the Maillard Reaction, that savory browning that occurs on food and gives such delicious flavor, but it also is best for cuts that are already tender and don't need a long cooking time and can be eaten more rare than the long-cooked pot roast cuts.
Roasting versus Baking
Why is it called roasting instead of baking? The terms are often used interchangeably but baking refers to cooking food that does not have an internal structure, like cakes or pie at a lower temperature than roasting.
Roasting needs high heat to get the maillard reaction going, but cake doesn't need that, right? They become golden brown from caramelization, the browning of the sugars in the batter.
Best Cuts for Pot Roast
You want to use a cut of beef roast that is large, tough, and full of connective tissue and fat. Fat equals flavor, y'all.
These are often the most inexpensive cuts of beef (per pound, anyway) and they'll make you some seriously delicious, tender pot roast.
My top 3 cut choices for fall apart pot roast:
These cuts are tough, full of connective tissue and fat, and are great for slow cooking until they are
7 Blade Roast. This is also known as 'center cut pot roast' or 'blade roast' in some stores, but it comes from the shoulder, or 'chuck' area of the cow with a cross-section of the shoulder blade bone that's shaped like a 7, hence the name 7 blade roast.
Brisket. Brisket is a cut from the lower chest area of the cow, above the shank, that is full of collagen and connective tissue which keeps it super juicy as it braises.
My number one choice, boneless chuck roast. This is one of the more affordable cuts of beef and the easiest to find. Boneless chuck roast can be found as 'chuck roll roast' 'chuck eye roast' and 'chuck pot roast' and is the most popular choice for pot roast because it's a well-worked muscle full of connective tissue and fat.
These are all perfect for slow braising since collagen in the connective tissue turns to gelatin, which absorbs five times its weight in water. Making the meat both tender and juicy. This is why braising works so well!
Boneless Beef Chuck Roast.
Vegetable Oil. You don't want to use a low smoke point fat like butter or olive oil for this, because we'll be searing the chuck roast over medium high heat and we don't want any burnt fat.
Yellow Onions. Yellow onions are perfect for slow cooking, their flavor turns sweet, mellow, and just can't be beat. You could use sweet onions if you have them, but yellow onions are the best in flavor for stews and braising.
Celery, because it isn't a mirepoix without it.
Fresh Garlic Cloves. We love, love, love garlic here. Use what your heart tells you if you're not a garlic lover.
We're using baby potatoes and some really nice carrots we got from the farmers' market because this is the traditional New England version, but other pot roast recipes often have other different root vegetables added in like rutabaga, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, etc. But if you aren't a potato fan, you can omit them.
Fresh herbs. I used some thyme (which I absolutely love in pot roast, it's fresh and bright), but in the fall and winter...that comforting flavor of fresh rosemary added in? Pure comfort.
Many pot roast recipes have flavor additions like worcestershire sauce or tomato paste for added umami, if you like them add them! You can also use a red wine you like to drink for added complexity.
I prefer baby gold potatoes but if you have red potatoes that works well. If you're using russet potatoes, peel them first!
Herbs go so well in pot roast. Bay leaves are a great addition since they brighten up the flavors in stews, but I also love oregano, sage, and savory.
How to Cook a Chuck Roast in the Oven
First thing's first, seasoned and sear your roast over medium-high heat or high heat in an oven-safe pan. I used my favorite cast iron braiser in the photos but I also suggest a large dutch oven pot if you don't have a braiser. You want to get a good, hearty crust on that cut of meat, both sides.
After you get that good sear, sauté the sliced onions, carrots, and celery until the onions get some color on them, then add in the herbs and garlic at the end to get them started. And those brown bits from searing the roast will release with the liquid from the vegetables, getting all that flavor up.
Add the beef back in and throw in the potatoes, if you're adding them in. To me, it's not pot roast without some potatoes, but you do you, honey. I won't judge.
Pour in your beef stock, and put the lid on for it for 3 hours of slow cooking until the roast is fork tender.
It's such a simple recipe, y'all. No fuss, no finicky temperatures, no crazy ingredients. And it makes such a delicious meal that the whole family will enjoy every time.
Serve Pot Roast with...
If you're skipping the potatoes, try serving your pot roast over some wide egg noodles! Kids really love this option, because what kid doesn't love noodles?
Need more veg in your life? Try this super fast and tasty lemon garlic asparagus recipe.
Creamy southern baked mac and cheese is a huge staple with this recipe. If you're looking for getting everyone's bellies full and happy, definitely add this mac and cheese to the menu!
The best drink to serve with this, in my opinion, is some homemade strawberry lemonade. You can use fresh or frozen strawberries to make it, which is why I love that recipe for any time of the year.
For dessert, bright, sweet lemon blueberry pound cake is the perfect touch to end the meal.
Storing and Reheating Tips
Store the pot roast and veggies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Reheat in a microwave-safe bowl or in an oven-safe dish at 325 degrees F until warmed through.
I braise a 3 pound chuck roast at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 3 to 3.5 hours. You'll want to cook yours until it's fork tender, that's the best way to tell it's done.
You'll want to serve ½ a pound of pot roast per person. Great to know for dinner parties or holidays.
Braising a cut with loads of connective tissue is the best way to ensure you have a juicy, tender roast.
Leaner cuts like rump roast, london broil, or eye of round can become dry since they don't have a lot of connective tissue or fat to keep them juicy, so those cuts need to be cooked for a shorter amount of time.
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Oven Braised Chuck Pot Roast
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 3-4 lb boneless chuck roast
- 3 stalks celery sliced
- 2 large carrots roughly chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion sliced ½ inch slices
- 5 cloves garlic smashed
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 pounds baby gold potatoes cut in half (optional)
- 2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups 16 oz beef broth or stock
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
- Season all sides of the chuck roast generously with salt and pepper. It's a large piece of meat, so it can handle 2 tablespoons of salt.
- In a large dutch oven or oven-safe braiser pot on your range over medium-high heat, add your high heat oil and wait until the oil is shimmering hot (that means it looks like it's doing a little shimmy in the pot, it's moving a little) then add the seasoned chuck roast.
- Sear the chuck roast on each side until it gets a deep brown crust, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chuck roast from the pan and set it aside onto a plate.
- Turn the temperature down to medium, then add the chopped carrots and sliced celery and onions to the pot. Sauté the vegetables for five minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables start to turn golden brown. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for about two minutes.
- Place the chuck roast back into the pot, add in the potatoes and beef broth, and put a lid on your pot (you can also use aluminum foil if you don't have a lid).
- Cook pot roast for three to four hours, checking at three hours for fork-tenderness. Once fork tender, take the roast out of the oven.
- Let the pot roast rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vegetables and pan drippings or pan dripping gravy.