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Let’s talk about cooking beef roast (a.k.a. pot roast).
It’s one of Matt’s all-time favorite diners because of the taste. It’s one of Jessica’s all-time favorite dinners because of the taste AND because it’s a one-pot-wonder.
Plus, there are some amazing meals you can make with the beef roast left-overs, assuming you have any.
We do have a favorite cut we use when we cook beef roast, but before we say “just get this cut” we want to explain the different beef roast cuts and why we have a favorite.
What is a beef roast?
A basic definition of a roast is that it’s a large piece of beef that serves more than one person.
You may have noticed there are different types of roast, like Chuck Roast, Round Roast, and Arm Roast, just to name a few.
A roast’s name is a reference to the primal cut the beef comes from. Roasts are cut from the steer’s chuck (shoulder area); the rib and loin (center area); round (butt and leg area) and brisket (chest area). For example, a Chuck Roast is from the chuck section of beef.
What’s the secret to a good beef roast?
Cut of beef and plenty of cooking time are the secrets to a melt-in-your-mouth beef roast.
The whole idea behind a beef roast is to take a tougher cut of meat, braise it in liquid, and cook it long enough at low temperatures so that the fibers in the meat relax. This makes it the most amazing, succulent, melt-in-your-mouth meal ever.
Why do good beef roasts come from tougher cuts of meat? Because these areas have more marbling and connective tissue.Remember, marbling in beef equals tenderness AND flavor.
The tougher cuts come from the areas of the steer that move the most, like the chuck (shoulder area) and round (butt and legs area). These areas have lots of connective tissue that will only soften when cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time.
The most tender roasts come from the parts of the steer that move the least, which are the rib and tenderloin section in the center.
Once you select your cut of beef, always remember that you can’t rush a good beef roast. You’ll be disappointed with the outcome if you try. As long as you don’t rush it, you’ll be doing a happy dance with every bite.
Different Types of Beef Roasts:
Arm Roast: An arm roast is a boneless cut that is found behind the shoulder area of a steer. It’s leaner than a chuck roast, and it’s a very inexpensive, budget cut that must be braised in liquid to bring out the flavor of the beef. It’s also known as a pot roast, clod roast or shoulder roast.
Bottom Round Roast: A bottom round roast is a budget cut from the back leg of the steer. It should be braised low and slow to bring out its flavor and texture. Thinly slice before serving. Also known as rolled rump roast or round roast.
Brisket: Ahhh…we love brisket. It’s a very versatile piece of beef that can be cooked in many different ways – from cooking brisket in the oven to smoking. Brisket is from the chest of the steer, between the shoulder and forelegs. This muscle gets a workout every day, which means it has a lot of collagen and connective tissue. Cooking it low and slow is essential. Brisket is made of two different muscles, which are separated by a thick layer of fat. There’s the flat (a.k.a. first cut, the leaner end) and the point (a.k.a. second cut, the fat end).
Chuck Roast: This is our favorite roast to cook. It has wonderful marbling throughout the meat. When you give it enough time to cook, it is so tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. It’s typically a less expensive cut, and it’s from the shoulder. If you’re planning to serve a large crowd with a Chuck Roast, keep in mind that Chuck roasts shrink more than any other roast during cooking. It’s also known as a pot roast and chuck roll.
Eye of Round Roast: Another inexpensive roast that is lean with less flavor than other roasts. It has a distinctive circular, log-shape that makes slicing extremely easy, and it should be sliced thinly when serving.
Rib Roast: This is the king of roasts due to its size and marbling. It’s also known as a standing rib roast and prime rib. Butchers usually cut Rib Roasts in half. The best half is the one that is closest to the loin, which is known as the “small end” or “first cut.” The other half is also good but it is closer to the chuck, and has slightly more fat, which will add flavor. When serving this at a dinner party, one rib for every two people is plenty.
Sirloin Tip Roast: Sirloin Roasts are known for being lea.n and full of flavor. It’s usually an inexpensive roast, which makes it a favorite with home chefs. It’s also known as the knuckle, since it’s taken right off the knee.
Tenderloin Roast: This is the most tender roast of all, but it has almost no fat or flavor. It’s from the tenderloin section of beef, under the spine. It’s a very expensive cut, and sometimes difficult to find.
Top Sirloin Roast: This is cut from the hip bone area. It is lean, but is still flavorful with some marbling. It is a medium priced roast. It’s not as expensive as a tenderloin or prime rib, but it’s more expensive than a chuck roast.
Top Round Roast: This is one of the most inexpensive and lean roasts you can buy. It’s from the muscles in the middle of the leg which are used often, so the beef in this area can be tougher. Top Round Roasts are best roasted and thinly sliced or used for kabobs. It’s also known as inside round
4 Basic Cooking Methods for Beef Roast
Cooking a beef roast is simple once you have the right cut of beef.
The thing to remember is that you need a moist heat cooking method like braising, so that the liquids can help break down the meat fibers.
There are four basic methods for this:
- Stovetop in a heavy pot
- Oven in a covered pot
- Slow cooker
- Pressure Cooker
We’ve cooked dozens of roasts in each of these methods, and our favorites are either cooking in the oven in a covered pot or in a slow cooker.
The reason we would rather not cook a roast on the stove top is because it requires more attention; you can’t set-it-and-forget-it. The pressure cooker allows the roast cook faster, but in our opinion, the texture and taste are slightly different than cooking in an oven or slow cooker.
Prepare the Roast
To prepare the roast, pat it dry with a paper towel. Then, season the meat with salt and pepper or your favorite rub.
Next, brown the roast on all sides to seal in the flavor. Browning gives the beef a richer flavor. This step is really important.
Braising the Roast
You can use a variety of different cooking liquids to braise a roast – from Dr. Pepper to beef broth to tomato juice. We recommend experimenting until you find one that you like the best. At our house, we usually keep it simple with beef broth.
Adding Vegetables to Beef Roast
We always include vegetables with our pot roasts, but some people don’t. Our go-to vegetables are onion, carrots and potatoes, but any root-vegetable works great with roast.
When making in a crock pot, add the vegetables at the beginning. If making in the oven, add them one hour before the roast is done.
How Long to Cook a Beef Roast
How long you cook the roast will depend on the size of the roast.
Undercooked beef roast is tough and chewy. Overcooked beef roast is dry.
If it’s a 4 lb roast, it will usually be done in 3 to 3 ½ hours when cooked at 300 degrees. However, the only way to be sure a pot roast is done is to use an instant read thermometer.
The USDA recommends an internal temperature of at least 145°F to be considered safe to eat.
Here are the cooking guidelines the USDA recommends for various beef roasts:
- Bone-in ribs (4 to 6 pounds): 23 to 25 minutes per pound at 325 degrees F
- Boneless ribs (4 to 6 pounds): 28 to 33 minutes per pound at 325 degrees F
- Round or rump roast (2.5 to 4 pounds): 30 to 35 minutes per pound at 325 degrees F
- Tenderloin roast (4 to 6 pounds): 45 to 60 minutes total at 425 degrees F
Let Beef Roast Rest
When it’s done cooking, let the beef roast rest for about 20 minutes. The reason for this is because the moisture needs time to redistribute throughout the beef, which makes the beef tender and juicy. If you cut into it right away, liquid will pool out and the roast will become very dry.
Favorite Kitchen Tools for Beef Roast
Classic Beef Roast Recipe
Classic Beef Roast
- 1 Chuck Roast (approx 3 lbs)
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Large Sweet Onion (peel and slice in fourths)
- 16 oz Beef Broth
- 2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes (peeled and sliced into 1 1/2 inch pieces)
- 6 Carrots (medium sized, peeled and sliced into 1 1/2 inch pieces)
- Remove beef from refrigerator about 30 minutes before you need to cook it
- Season beef generously with salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 300˚.
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil
- When the oil in the pot is hot, add roast to pot and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the seared beef to a platter
- Add onions to pot and brown slightly.
- Place roast back into pan (on top of onions)
- Pour beef broth on top of roast (you can also use another liquid to braise, if desired)
- Add carrots. If desired, add a sprig of rosemary and thyme.
- Put the lid on, then roast in the oven at 300 degrees for approximately 3 hours (for a 3-pound roast). For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours. An instant read thermometer should read 145 degrees.
Favorite Roast Recipes:
- Prime Rib with Garlic Herb Butter
- Top Sirloin Roast Recipe
- Eye of Round Roast Recipe
- Italian Beef Roast (slow cooker)
- Dr. Pepper Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- 4 Ingredient Pot Roast
- Easy Dry Rub Recipe for Roast
One more thing!
Do you want to learn more about beef? Below are a few popular beef posts and recipes you may like. In addition, we have an entire ebook about beef that goes through purchasing and preparing beef from a farmers perspective.
- Buying a Cow. How Much Beef Is It?
- Is It Done Yet? Why Every Kitchen Needs a Digital Meat Thermometer and the Best One
- Dry Rub or Marinade for Steak? Know What’s Best
- Ebook – An Essential Guide to Beef: A Cattle Farm Shares How to Purchase & Prepare Beef
We have a weekly e-newsletter where we share about farm happenings, when our next beef availability is, and all things beef. When you do, you’ll get a cheat sheet with 9-must-ask questions before buying beef directly from a farmer.
Do you have other questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We love to talk beef!
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