The aroma of roasting meat and vegetables wafting through my house was sufficient to convince me that my idea to cook a 3-pound chuck roast in my cast iron Lodge Dutch oven was a good one. The taste of the fork-tender beef sealed the deal.
Yes, it’s summer and a pot roast in the middle of summer isn’t at the top of my summer menu list. But after 2 months of mostly tomatoes, squash, okra, corn and cucumbers, I needed a really rib-sticking meal. I also needed a good dose of iron and serious protein.
And I just happened to have a 3-pound, bone-in chuck roast in my freezer. I bought the roast from John Wesson, farmer/rancher/proprietor of Avereitt Branch Farm near Sylacauga (he’s one of my diversified farming heroes and role models). John produces grass-fed beef, lamb and pork, as well as just about everything else you need to live.
I had originally planned to cook the chuck roast in my slow cooker but I needed potatoes and wanted to pick those up from the farmers market Saturday morning. By the time I got home and was ready to cook, I realized the roast might not finish in the slow cooker before I was famished. I considered going the stove-top route, but I don’t have a good stove-top roasting pan—cast iron isn’t appropriate for my ceramic stove-top.
So I opted to brown the roast on the stove-top in a stainless steel skillet and then transfer it to my beloved cast iron Dutch oven and see what happened. As as I said, the outcome was even better than I’d expected.
Here’s how you, too, can make a perfect pot roast in the oven.
Step One: Season the Uncooked Meat
Mom taught me to always use a paper towel to wipe off a steak or roast before cooking, so I always do that, even though I’ve read that it’s not necessary. What’s the harm?
I didn’t use much seasoning: Just sprinkled on a bit of salt, lots of fresh-ground black pepper, a dash of garlic powder
Step Two: Brown the Roast to Lock in Flavors
I can’t give you an exact cooking time, but I browned the meat on each side in a tiny bit of canola oil. With the bone-in, the browning wasn’t even.
While the roast is browning on the stove-top make sure your oven is preheating to 325° Fahrenheit.
Step Three: Move Roast to Dutch Oven
I placed a few onion quarters on the bottom of the Dutch oven, then laid the roast on top of those. I added 3 cups of water, 2/3 cup of red wine vinegar and a healthy drizzle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce. To add flavor while cooking, I threw in one carrot, sliced into big chunks, and a juicy tomato from my garden.
I tried to position the roast so that it was mostly submerged in liquid. Due to the size and shape of the bone, I couldn’t get it entirely covered, but it worked out just fine.
Cover the pot. Fortunately, my Dutch oven has a lid that fits nicely. If you don’t have a lid, I suppose you could cover the oven-safe pot with several layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Bake for about 90 minutes at 325°
Step Four: Add More Vegetables
After 90 minutes I removed the big pot from my oven to check cooking status and add additional vegetables.
Be careful when removing the hot pan. The pot is heavy, especially if you’re using cast iron, like me. So make sure to open the oven all the way, slide the shelf out a bit and use plenty of heavy-duty thick potholders (oven mittens are best). Don’t want to spill the pot and get a serious burn—or make a big mess.
I added more onions, two more carrots and several small, red potatoes. There’s no limit, really, to the type and quantity of vegetables you add at this point.
Step Six: Return to Oven and Continue Cooking
After 90-minutes, the roast was probably technically “done,” from a safe-to-eat temperature standpoint, but it wasn’t yet tender. Chuck roast needs to cook for a fairly long time at a slow temperature to break down the fibers—otherwise, the meat will be rather tough and chewy. That’s why most people say to never cook a chuck roast in the oven. Chuck is usually cooked as a “pot” roast on the stove-top. I wanted fork-tender AND I wanted to cook it in the oven (for reasons I explained in the introduction).
So I returned the roast to the oven and cooked for another 75 minutes, then turned the oven off and let the roast sit in the Dutch Oven (in the oven) for another 15 minutes.
This is what I opened the lid to behold:
Pretty awesome, don’t you think?
I eat beef maybe twice a month, mainly because I’m just not a big meat person. That’s the way I grew up–vegetables and beans were the main course. So when I have any meat dish I really want it to be special. This chuck roast in the oven certainly met that standard.
Have you made a chuck roast in the oven? Any secret tips?