Pot Roast definitionally involves liquid, so it is necessarily a braise. This might seem like a semantic distinction, but since the word roast is already taken, it really makes sense to use the word “braise” to describe the method of cooking with liquid, especially if we’re talking about something that’s going to be cooked to fork-tender instead of medium-medium rare.
This pot roast recipe made the rounds lately and is justly celebrated; this digest of braised beef recipes from Mark Bittman is also delightful. The most crucial thing to remember about any of them is that an instant read thermometer is your friend, and a fork a decent substitute. Braised beef isn’t done until it’s done: if it’s not tender when you cut into it, then it needs more time, and that’s all there is to it. An internal temperature of 210 degrees is the magic number.
The second and third most crucial things have to do with how you treat the meat before and after you cook it. Salting it well ahead of time—from an hour or so, up to a couple days—can reveal dimensions in the meat you never knew existed (cue spooky sci-fi soundtrack). And letting your dish rest before serving—from a half an hour, to even overnight—can also yield unexpected complexity and nuance in your work.
All of these recipes would work remarkably well with our American Roast, a marvelously well-marbled piece of meat from the chuck section that has become one of our all-time favorite braising cuts. If you haven’t tried it yet, this is a great weekend to venture into the unknown: all American Roasts are $3 off per pound.