How to Cook a Roast – Pressure Cooker Pot Roast

What is a “Home-cooked meal”?  Food fads may come and go, but pot roast never leaves.  It is probably the very definition of home-cooked. 

Yankee pot roast – or a cut of beef browned to perfection and introduced to its vegetable companions part way through cooking – is an all-in-one-pot hearty meal.

“Give them great meals of beef and iron and steel, they will eat like wolves and fight like devils.” William Shakespeare (1564-1616) ‘King Henry V’

The first written reference of Pot Roast appeared in 1881, a natural evolution of the colonial-era New England Boiled Dinner.  Once an appetizing way to cook inferior meat, or cuts from beasts that have been working animals rather than food animals, pot roast at its core represents simplicity, frugality, and sensibility. 

Pot Roast Recipe Video

Most things have a start, and cooking a roast starts with a cut of beef. 

Choosing the right cut of meat

Many cuts make a fine pot roast but the chuck or shoulder of the cow is recommended as the best choice.  The book How to Cook Meat spells out what to look for at your local butcher: 

…basically any cut from the chuck will make a good pot roast, so the best idea is to simply pick one that is the size you are looking for.  Some of the more common names used for chuck roast cuts are: arm pot roast or boneless arm shoulder roast, chuck eye or chuck eye roll, flat iron roast, cross-rib roast or shoulder clod, or just plain boneless chuck roast.

The different cuts of beef, chuck is traditionally used.

The different cuts of beef, chuck is traditionally used.

If you are still hungry for more beef knowledge this illustrated guide to beef roasts should do the trick.

How to Cook a Roast:

Pressure Cooker Yankee Pot Roast

Ingredients (serves 6):  Feel free to substitute vegetable specifics for whatever you have in the fridge. I promise you won’t break anything.

3 to 4 pound chuck or round roast
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup red wine
1-can (28 ounces) of beef broth
1-can (28-ounces) chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon rosemary
4 carrots
3 stalks celery
6 potatoes
1 parsnip

Step 1: Stuff the roast with garlic, then coat

Make cuts throughout the roast and insert garlic slices, but beware of the beef inspector.  Next make a mixture of the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl or a bag and coat the sides of the roast.

Stuff the pot roast with garlic

Stuff the pot roast with garlic

Step 2: Brown the roast and cook the onions

In the pressure cooker heat the oil on medium heat and brown the roast on all sides.  If you have room, slide the roast to the side and add the onions, otherwise give the roast a quick break from the pot by setting it aside.  Cook the onions until they are soft and deglaze the pot by adding the wine and scrapping up any stuck bits.  Replace the roast if it was removed.

Coat the roast, cook the onions

Coat the roast, cook the onions

Step 3:  Add the first round of ingredients and cook for 35 minutes

Add the broth, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, tomatoes, and any other seasonings you might want to try.  Lock the lid and heat the pressure cooker on high heat until it releases steady steam indicating it has reached 15psi.  Start a kitchen timer for 35 minutes.

Step 4:  Use the quick release method and add the rest of the ingredients

Pressure cooker releasing steady steam

Pressure cooker at pressure: releasing steady steam

pressure cooker quick release method

Quick release method releases pressure but keeps contents hot

When time, remove the pressure cooker from the heat and follow the quick release method.  This will allow the pressure to be released while keeping the contents hot.  Check the roast for doneness and if needed return the pot to pressure and cook the roast for another 5 minutes.  When satisfied add the carrots, potatoes, celery, parsnips and other hearty stew vegetables hiding in your fridge.  Distribute the vegetables around the roast inside the pressure cooker. 

Step 5:  Return to pressure and cook for 4 minutes

When time remove the pressure cooker from the heat following the natural release method.  After the lid unlocks, carefully open and remove the roast to rest covered under tinfoil while you make the gravy.  Thicken the broth by adding 2 tablespoons of a flour/salt/pepper mix with about 1/2 cup water.

Add seasonings to taste.  Slice the roast across the grain and serve with the vegetables and gravy.  Leftovers taste superb.

Pot roast

Original recipe adapted from Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes

Looking for pot roast slow cooker or oven recipes? Try this:
Alton Brown’s A Chuck for a Chuck

Thanks for reading.

"I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate." ~Julia Child  
Why learn pressure cooking?
It's 7 pm. The end of the work day stomach rumbles...

In one hand, a take out menu. In the other hand, the refrigerator door...its contents staring back almost as blankly as we are towards them. We want a homemade meal, but also want something quick and simple to make.
1. Simple and quick recipes requiring basic skills to become proficient in the kitchen.
2. Quality ingredients, not necessarily 100% organic, but meals without artificials and chemistry class additives.
3. To understand more of the story of our food and take small steps towards self-reliance.

It's true, there are many benefits to pressure cooking: the time savings, the taste, a small step towards self-reliance, sustainability... but the real benefit is in what we learn as we redefine our relationship with food. Good food can be fast. Good food can be easy.

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