A long time ago, in a cooking galaxy far, far away, pot roast was synonymous with Sunday dinner. And even today, if you accompany your roast with potatoes, onions, green beans and carrots, this scrumptious dish may earn a lofty Sunday status. Chuck roast is the cut most commonly used to make pot roast, and it must be cooked slowly -- in the oven or a slow cooker -- to become juicy and tender. Help the process along by adding vinegar, an acidic ingredient that helps break down the tough fibers in the meat.
Use plain white vinegar if desired, but options include cider vinegar, raspberry vinegar, sherry vinegar and, especially, balsamic vinegar. Rich in flavor and slightly sweet, balsamic vinegar adds a luscious taste to pot roast.
Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to tenderize every quarter-pound of meat, as a rule of thumb. This makes vinegar the cornerstone of your “pot roast brew,” so a 4-pound chuck roast, for example, requires 1 cup of vinegar, which is a lot of vinegar. Don't run the risk of overdoing it and actually making the meat too soft or letting the vinegar dominate the dish. Alternatively, use 1/2-cup vinegar and 1/2 cup of another liquid for tender, flavorful pot roast.
Make a 1/2-cup blend of mostly beef broth, a little soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce as an alternative. Experiment with the ratios and taste them. Combine this 1/2-cup blend with 1/2 cup of vinegar.
Flavor your “pot roast brew” with minced garlic, onion powder and thyme, if desired. For additional "heat," add just a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Cool off an overheated mix with some honey.
Place the pot roast and any vegetables in a roasting pan or slow cooker. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Pour your “pot roast brew” on top. Cook your 3- or 4-pound pot roast at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 3 hours after covering the roasting pan with foil. Or cook the pot roast in your slow cooker for 8 hours on “low” or for 4 hours on “high." Test the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to be certain; it should register at least 145 degrees F. Let the meat rest for 3 minutes before serving.
With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.
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