Oh, the roast. Steaks are flashy and get all the attention. Ground beef is king of the quick and delicious meal. But roasts are the unsung hero.
Maybe it’s because a good roast needs to be planned so far in advance in a culture prone towards convenience and fast food. But the skills required and effort needed are actually quite small – so if you can wrap your head around planning tomorrow’s dinner today, then you could be enjoying a mouth wateringly good home cooked meal.
Here is the quick a few pointers when cooking your next roast.
Thawing. With a 2-3lb roast, this can take a little while, especially in the fridge or as the overnight temperatures start to get cooler. So plan ahead and take it out of the freezer at least a day ahead of time.
Veggies. If you want to stew some veggies with your roast, dice those up for the pot. At the very least, you will want something to create a base for the roast. I often just use a bed of diced onions or a few carrot sticks. You just don’t want the roast to be sitting directly on the bottom of the pot or slow cooker.
Seasoning. This could be anything from basic salt and pepper, to fresh herbs like rosemary or basil. It’s also never a bad idea to mince or crush some garlic to throw into the slow cooker.
Sear. Treat that roast like a steak. Yes, you could just throw a 3lb roast into the slow cooker and head out for the day. But wouldn’t you rather it was a golden brown caramelized roast that cooks in its own savory goodness? Remember, searing isn’t about sealing in juices, it’s about a chemical reaction that creates flavor. Take the extra 5 to 10 minutes to sear each side of the roast as if it were a steak, and you’ll be thankful.
Braise. You don’t have to braise, but I think you’ll be glad you did. Braising is adding a cooking liquid that keeps the roast moist and infuses it with flavor. This can be almost anything, but my favourites are bone broth or beef marrow tallow (both of which we make from our animals). I usually add enough liquid to come to the bottom of the roast, but you can add more if you like. You can also check on it while it cooks and baste or brush the roast with the liquid if you have the time. Keep it covered while cooking.
Low and Slow. This is the most important. You planned this meal at least a day in advance, so take the extra hours on the day of to make sure it’s worthwhile.
You can always keep a perfectly cooked roast warm or heat it back up…what you can’t do is make up for lost time by increasing the cooking temperature to meet the dinnertime deadline.
Trying to speed up slow cooking means you’re not slow cooking…obviously. So start well ahead of time. I would say plan for at least 4 hours, longer if you can. I use the oven, which I set between 200 and 275 degrees depending on how much time I’m planning for. On a slow cooker I would start with the ‘low’ setting.
Keep an eye on it your first few times! If it was cooked too hot it may not be ideal, but at least you will catch it before it’s over-done. If the temp is low enough and you have the time, it’s almost impossible to overcook. I test the done-ness with a fork…if it feels like you could pull it apart by twisting the fork, it’s ready to go. It will be safely cooked long before this point if you want to check it with a temperature probe – but the beauty of waiting this long means it is fall apart in your mouth tender. This is why you want to cook it LOW, so you can cook a long time without overcooking.
Rest. You let your steaks rest (hopefully). A roast is just a big steak, and you still want those flavor filled juices to get anchored in the meat and not run out when you slice it.
And that's it! Follow these simple tips and you should be well on your way to eating some absolutely amazing roasts this winter.
If you have any questions as always definitely reach out! And if you need a few roasts for the freezer, we'll be back in stock next week so just get in touch.
Willie & Jorie