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Lesson - Pot Roasts

Pot Roasting

Pot roasting or braising is simple. Long, slow cooking yields an irresistibly tender roast from some of the most economical and flavourful cuts of beef. Once the roast is simmering, the work is done, with little to clean up.

WATCH how to cook by pot roasting Video available in full length Cooking Show format (7:28) or Short Version (2:27).

LEARN how to make a pot roast dinner with the Step-by-Step Lesson.

COOK the fabulous Marvellous Mushroom Pot Roast feature recipe and more.

[ Video ]

Pot Roasting Step-by-Step Lesson

Step 1

Get Ready

  • Start with a 3 to 4 lb (1.5 to 2 kg) Pot Roast such as: Blade, Cross Rib, Top Blade, Bottom Blade Boneless, Shoulder or Brisket.
  • Use a heavy deep pot with tight-fitting lid, such as a Dutch oven or pasta pot.

Cook’s Notes:
A Dutch-oven is a heavy deep pot with a tight fitting lid. A heavy stock pot or pasta pot will work too - heavy is key.

Step 2


  • Pat roast dry and season all over with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable or olive oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Brown meat, searing on all sides turning with tongs until browned all over, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove roast to plate; set aside.

Cook’s Notes:
Searing intensifies the meat flavour and enriches the cooking liquid with a rich beefy flavour.

Step 3a

Cook the flavourings

  • Add about 1 cup (250 mL) of mixed diced vegetables such as carrot, celery, onion and garlic to pot.
  • Cook for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, until lightly browned, adding more oil if necessary.

Cook’s Notes:
If vegetables start scorching, add a splash of water to the pot.

Step 4

Deglaze the pot and add cooking liquid

  • Stir in 1/4 cup (50 mL) broth or red wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot (known as deglazing).
  • Stir in 1 to 2 cups (250 to 500 mL) cooking liquid such as broth, canned tomatoes, soup or broth/red wine blend. Return roast to pot.

Cook’s Notes:
Cooking liquid should be less than one-third up side of roast. Adding too much liquid will result in sauce that is dilute and weak-flavoured.

Pot roasts adapt well to slow cookers: After deglazing pot, transfer browned meat, flavouring vegetables and deglazing liquid to slow cooker. Reduce cooking liquid by a third to a half and cook according to slow cooker instructions.

Step 5

Pot roast 2 hours; add vegetables.

  • Return roast to pot and bring to simmer.
  • Cover tightly with lid and slow-cook on stove-top over low heat or in 325°F (160°C) oven. Cook for 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure liquid is at a simmer; top-up liquid if pot cooks dry.
  • Turn roast over. Scatter 3 to 4 cups (750 mL to 1 L) chunks of vegetables such as mushrooms, green beans, potatoes, parsnips, winter squash or carrots, around roast.

Cook’s Notes:
A tight-fitting lid locks the moist heat in for best simmer. If lid is too loose, make a tight seal between lid and pot with a layer of foil or parchment paper.

Oven cooking is best to maintain a constant simmer.

Step 6

Cook until fork-tender; finish the sauce

  • Cook an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour until vegetables and meat are fork-tender. Meat is fork-tender when it gives way when lifting roast with a fork.
  • Remove roast and vegetables to platter; tent with foil to keep warm.
  • Strain sauce (if desired) and skim off any surface fat. Return sauce to pot.
  • Taste; if flavour is weak, simmer vigorously to reduce.
  • Finish sauce by stirring in 1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 mL) chopped fresh parsley, and/or heavy cream, balsamic vinegar or red wine. Season to taste. Thicken with cornstarch if desired.

Cook’s Notes:
To thicken with cornstarch, gradually stir together equal amounts of cornstarch and cold water (Note: 1 tbsp/15 mL cornstarch thickens 1 cup/250 mL liquid.) Whisk into sauce and bring to boil, cooking until just thickened.

Make-ahead Tip:

Pot Roasts actually taste better when made the day ahead! Here’s how: Refrigerate cooked pot roast overnight in its braising sauce. Next day, skim any fat from sauce and thinly slice roast crosswise; place meat in ovenproof casserole. Heat sauce and pour over meat. Cover and heat in 350°F (180°C) oven for about 25 minutes.

Slow Cooker Solution:

Beef slow-cooker meals are the ultimate in convenience. To convert your favourite stew or pot roast recipe to cook in the slow cooker:

  • brown beef, onion and garlic on stove-top (as usual); transfer to slow cooker insert
  • deglaze the pan used for browning and add to meat in slow cooker insert
  • adjust cooking liquid from recipe, using 30 to 50% less cooking liquid
  • choose the low setting on slow cooker (high heat can cause meat to be stringy and overcooked)
  • add fresh herbs and sweet green pepper near end of cooking
  • adjust seasonings to taste before serving

Recipes to Cook:

Here are some simple pot roast recipes and tips to enjoy Pot Roasts more often.

Feature Recipe: Marvellous Mushroom Pot Roast

Roast Beef with Fennel

Slow Cooker Spanish Pot Roast

Slow Cooker South Western Pulled Beef

See all of our Pot Roasting Recipes

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