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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Perfect Pot Roast

When you want to make a cheap, chewy hunk of meat into a succulent, tender meal, there are two rules: low and slow. This is why crock pots are so effective... but I'm something of a throw back. I have a crock pot, but I don't use it a lot. Instead, I use my trusty cast iron Dutch oven.

Cast iron has been a popular kitchen material for a long time. There is a reason for this popularity. Since I started making my pot roasts in a cast iron Dutch oven, I have never turned out anything but a perfect pot roast every time.

Perfect Pot Roast

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Heat a tablespoon of oil in the Dutch oven over medium high heat on the stove top. Brown the roast (your choice of meat and cut) on all sides. While you can cook without adding anything to the pot, I like to add one chopped onion and two garlic cloves. Do not add any liquid to the pot. The heavy lid will keep all moisture that is already in the meat within the pot. Therefore, no additional liquid is necessary.

Put the lid on the Dutch oven and put in the preheated oven. Let the roast bake for 4-6 hours, depending on the size of the roast. I usually allow for four hours for a two pound roast. The roast will be safe to eat (temperature wise) much sooner than it will be ready to eat from a tenderness stand point. To test whether it is ready to enjoy, stick your fork in half an inch or so and twist. If the meat pulls away from the roast easily, you are good to go. If not, give it a little while longer. Roast can be served in slices or pulled apart into chunks.

If you want to have gravy, simply pull the meat out of the Dutch oven and put it onto a plate or into a bowl. Cover with a piece of foil to keep warm. If you roasted a fairly fatty piece of meat, you can skim off some of the fat, if you desire. Place the pot on the stove top over medium heat. Sprinkle some flour over the gravy. I use a small sieve to sprinkle the flour to keep lumps from forming. Be sure not to stir too much flour in at once. You could also mix the flour with some cool water or milk before adding it to the gravy. Stir continually until it gets thick and bubbly. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you added an onion and garlic while roasting, you do not need to remove them when making the gravy. Just break them up slightly with a fork and stir them into the gravy. Delicious!

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