Slow cooking at a low temperature is the secret to making a perfect chuck roast. The combination of patience, the right equipment and a little bit of technique results in flavorful, tender beef. If roasts are a frequent centerpiece of your meals, think about investing in a heavy cast iron roasting pan with a tight-fitting lid.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel and coarsely chop an onion, peel and slice carrots, and mince a couple of cloves of garlic. Peel and cube potatoes. Leave most of the fat on the roast — this will keep the meat moist and flavorful. While the best pan for perfect chuck roast is a heavy, cast iron roasting pan with a tight-fitting lid, you can sear the meat in a heavy-bottomed pan on top of the stove and transfer it to a regular roasting pan with a tight lid.
Sear the Roast
Season the meat with salt and pepper, and then sear it on high heat in a heavy pan or the bottom of the roasting pan. Use tongs to flip the meat, rather than a fork, and to hold the meat upright as you sear the sides. Using a fork allows the juices to run out of the meat. Searing the roast creates the Maillard reaction — the bit of kitchen science that causes protein and sugar to interact, browning the meat and creating that distinctive beefy flavor. Remove the pan from the stove.
Add Seasonings and Vegetables
Scatter the chopped onion, cubed potatoes, sliced carrots and minced garlic around the roast. Add fresh herbs like thyme, basil and rosemary. It’s not essential to strip the leaves off the stalk of the herbs — they can be added whole. Add about an inch of beef broth to the roasting pan, cover tightly and put in the oven. Don’t add salt at this step — the broth normally has sodium, and the finished product may be too salty if you add more.
Cook the Roast
Let the roast cook low and slow for at least two hours. The length of time depends on the size of the roast, so check it for doneness with a probe thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat. The temperature should read 145 F, and the meat should be fork-tender. Take the roast out of the oven when it’s done, remove the meat from the pan and let it rest a few minutes before slicing. Strain the vegetables and remove the herb stalks. Make gravy with the juices in the pan.
References and ResourcesGrow: Five Things Everyone Should Know … About the Maillard Reaction
Foodsafety.gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
ResourcesJohn Besh: Slow-Cooked Beef Chuck Roast
Deep South Dish: Oven Braised Pot Roast