Pot Roast Fail x4

Friday, October 28, 2011

Does a moist, tender pot roast really exist?  I have never tasted or made one, but the idea is really appealing.  Take a tough, otherwise useless cut of beef, throw it in a crock pot with some vegies, broth and a few spices, and it magically turns to a tender, flavorful meal in 6-8 hours.

Joe bought 1/4 a cow, so we have a plethora of roast cuts in the freezer.  I have no idea what to do with them, so I did what any modern housewife does: I googled "fool proof pot roast recipe no cream of mushroom soup", found a 5 star recipe, and went to work.

Pot Roast #1:  used crock pot, seared meat, added plenty of beef broth and red wine, vegies
Cook Time:  on low for 6 hours
Results:  dry and tough, but at least the vegies were moist and delicious.

Pot Roast #2:  seared meat, used pressure cooker, added broth, wine and vegies.
Cook Time:  45 minutes in pressure cooker
Results:  dry and tough, but at least the vegies were moist and delicious.

Pot Roast #3:  meat unseared, tried crock pot again, made a stuffing of olives, onions, and sundried tomatoes, added 1 cup water and spices.
Cook time: on low for 5 hours
Results:  dry and tough, but at least the vegies were moist and delicious.

Pot Roast #4:  went bare bones- crock pot, water 1/2 way up the meat, fresh herbs, vegies
Cook Time:  on high for 3 1/2 hours
Results:  dry and tough, but at least the vegies were moist and delicious.

Ok, so is the point of a pot roast to leech all the flavor and juices OUT of the pot roast and create the best vegetables you've ever tasted?  If so, then I get an A+.  If not, then WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?  I'm so stubborn that I keep on cooking them, but I hate wasting our precious cow. 

Mind you, all four attempts were listed as fool proof recipes or shared by trusted friends.  #2 in the pressure cooker was the least disastrous because pressure cookers are just awesome.  

Fortunately, Pot Roast #4 did not go to waste.  I shredded the rock hard piece of meat and put it in a skillet with it's own juices, some caramelized onions, garlic, salt and pepper.  Amazingly, the juices leeched back INTO the meat, and we ate the most delicious shredded beef tacos EVER.


Rachel October 28, 2011 at 9:24 AM  

I would say more time! I haven't done a pot roast in forever, but I make beef stew sometimes and it takes at least 8 hours to get really good and tender. You can even start on high for an hour and then reduce to low for 6 - 8 hours. Test the meat with a fork to see if it's tender enough at the end. Some cuts take even longer!

Cindy October 28, 2011 at 9:45 AM  

I think I agree with Rachel, because whenever I make a pot roast in a crock pot, the vegetables are so soft they are inedible (I throw them out or puree them for a sauce) and the meat is tender. Also, it really depends on the cut of meat...a low-value cut (you said you did this), because the membranes in the meat (that are usually tough to chew) are what makes it tender after they've been cooked for 8 hours or more. Last possibility: the crock pot temp isn't good? That's where on high for an hour and then low for 8 hours might be useful. Mmmm...I need to use the crock pot!

Lacey October 28, 2011 at 3:19 PM  

Naw, I have no fool-proof recipes because I've never made one. But I would have to agree with your friends above - I put my meat in the crock pot for 8 hours minimum on low. You can always put your vegetables in half way through.

Sara October 29, 2011 at 4:15 PM  

More time, lower heat, put veggies UNDERNEATH the meat halfway through. Also, I have Josh sear the meat because he does a lot better job. That part can be crucial... Very hot pan (like when a small amount of cooking oil starts to smoke) and you just want to brown the outside.

Also, I have better luck just adding a little wine but no other liquid. Marie has a good recipe that she uses broth, but I find that it boils the meat and it doesn't work for me. On LOW heat, the fat melts off and is sufficient liquid. Josh says "there are 'certains enzymes' in beef that become active as the beef warms up that start breaking down the tougher connective tissue. However, once they reach a certain temp, above 140-150 I think, they permanently denature and stop this tenderizing process, which is why it's key to not let it get too hot too fast."

Better luck next time! :)

AutumnsFancy November 3, 2011 at 2:51 PM  

That looks like a delicious fail to me! I have no suggestions for how to make a pot roast tender and juicy, just admiration for those tacos.

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