Chuck roast is as renowned for its rich flavor and silky texture as for its economy. While chuck roast is not the most naturally tender cut of beef, it takes extremely well to slow and careful cooking with a bit of liquid to keep it moist. The key to cooking a chuck roast that is tender when served medium rare is to thoroughly brown it before beginning, and to let it rest before slicing it so that the juices can sink back through the meat, tenderizing it and adding flavor.
Rinse your chuck roast in cool water. This refreshes the meat, especially if it has been sitting in the refrigerator in its own juices for a few days. Pat the outside thoroughly dry with paper towels.
Season all sides of the chuck roast with salt and pepper. Sea salt and coarsely ground pepper add texture as well as a slightly more intense flavor, but regular table salt and pepper will also work. Add seasonings such as rosemary and thyme or a prepackaged seasoning mix if you prefer. Pat the seasonings gently into the meat with your fingertips.
Pour just enough oil into the bottom of a Dutch oven to coat it evenly. Heat the oil until the surface begins to shimmer over medium-high heat. If you are using olive oil, you should be able to smell its scent.
Brown the chuck roast on all sides. Do not rush the browning. Make sure that meat is not just seared to a gray color but is forming a dark brown crust. This caramelizes the outer layer and brings out the flavor of the meat.
Add aromatics such as chopped onions, leeks or scallions and minced garlic when you are browning the last side of the meat for a more flavorful end result.
Add enough water or stock to the Dutch oven to bring it to a depth of about 2 inches. You can use wine or beer to replace up to 1/2 of the total liquid. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cover the pot. Turn down the heat and cook the chuck roast for 60 to 90 minutes per pound. You can also move the Dutch oven to an oven preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Check for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. Beef is generally considered medium-rare at 130 to 135 F, but it will continue to cook while resting, so remove the roast from the Dutch oven when it has reached 125 F. Cover it with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes or until its internal temperature reaches the desired temperature.
- Add cut-up potatoes, carrots, celery and onions to the Dutch oven 30 to 45 minutes before the end of the cooking time for a quick and simple one-pot dinner.
- Do not overcook chuck roast because it can become tasteless and stringy when it dries out.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends 145 F as the minimum safe temperature for this type of whole cut of beef.
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