Make a Pot Roast
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Pot Roast is another of those culinary terms that has become mired in confusion. Most of America probably thinks it is a portion cut of Beef that has to be cooked in a liquid in a pot on the stove by a method they believe is called Pot Roasting. The information in the Pot Roasting link describes the culinary technique of Pot Roasting, which is not what most of us think. Smart Kitchen also has an Exercise on Proper Pot Roasting which can help clarify the situation.

The rest of this Resource page is devoted to talking about the cuts(s) of Beef labeled: Pot Roast.

If you were to stop Bossie or Ferdinand or any other of your favorite bovine friends and ask them to point out the “Pot Roast” on their bodies, they would moo at you in confusion because they don’t have one. Like the term London Broil, Pot Roast is a butcher’s marketing term designed to increase profits for various tough cuts of Beef.

Any large cut of Beef that has been butchered as a Roast can be labeled as “Pot Roast,” but there is a whole coterie of cuts that are frequently called “Pot Roast” or which include “Pot Roast” in their name. They can be Bone-In or Boneless, and generally they come from the hard-working front or rear legs which means they will be tough.

Varieties

Cuts from the Chuck Primal Cut, analogous to the front axle of the Steer, that are called “Pot Roast” or have the term in their name include: Top Blade Pot RoastUnder Blade Pot RoastArm Pot RoastCross Rib Pot Roast7-Bone Pot RoastChuck Eye, and Shoulder Roast.

Cuts from the Round Primal Cut, which works as a rear axle for the heavy Steer, include the following cuts that are often relabeled as “Pot Roast”:  Top Round RoastBottom Round RoastRump Roast and Eye of Round Roast.

Culinary Uses

In general, because they are Tough, Thick, Dry & Lean (See Smart Kitchen’s Home Plate™  Exercise) all the different Pot Roasts are pretty much interchangeable and they all require Low & Slow cooking. You will have to adjust the specific cook times to account for differences of weight, thickness and whether or not there are bones involved. Stewing or Braising are good choices because they employ Moist Heat to Finish Cook the product, which means that there is less chance that the product will dry out while it cooks (and cooks and cooks).  Stewing and Braising are also the techniques that are often confused with classic, real Pot Roasting. Ironically, Roasting, which is right there in the name “Pot Roast,” is usually a bad choice for these cuts because the meat dries out during the long, uncovered cook time.

There are thousands of recipes for Pot Roast. Depending on your cooking skills, you are probably safe in ignoring them. The whole point of braising or stewing a Pot Roast is to use up what is on hand and getting older. At least that was the role of the dish in times gone by.  Use a little common sense to determine what you throw in the pot, and we see no reason to change that tradition.

Join Smart Kitchen to learn how chefs Braise and Stew and how those techniques apply to Pot Roast.