Valley Bounty: Pot Roast

Some of our most iconic New England foods began their culinary life as working class dishes: roasted potatoes have long been a staple of farmers’ tables, lobster was famously looked down upon by wealthy consumers, and the humble pot roast has a long history as a fixture of Sunday dinner tables. Cuts of beef from larger muscles near the cow’s shoulders (called “chuck”) and the rear legs (called “round”) are tougher than tender cuts from the central muscles (like sirloin and tenderloin) because they contain a higher ration of connective tissue to muscle and fat, and so have traditionally been more affordable. Long, low-heat slow cooking helps break down those connective tissues by converting collagen (tough and chewy) into gelatin (tender and delicious). The traditional pot roast is prepared in a Dutch oven or other lidded baking dish — brown your roast briefly in a pan with a bit of butter, then place it in your Dutch oven with aromatics like onion, garlic, and rosemary, along with some water or beef broth to keep things moist, and cook at a low heat (around 275°F – 300°F) for about an hour per pound of beef. Chuck and round roasts also take well to the slow cooker, and can cook on the Low setting for up to a day.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)