I just made a pot roast on the stove, vaguely following this recipe.

My altered ingredients list would look something like this:

  • some quick sprays of oil on the saucepan and meat while searing

Chunky bits:

  • big hunk of meat (a few pounds)
  • 2 chopped onions
  • a bunch of little potatoes
  • 2 smallish carrots

Liquid stuff added to the broth:

  • a few good shots of Bragg's All-Purpose Seasoning
  • between ½ and 1 Cup of white vinegar
  • maybe ¼ C of molasses
  • last dregs of the Worchestershire sauce (a couple of tsps)
  • a tablespoon or two of garlic powder
  • some "pumpkin pie spice" — cinnamon, cloves, etc. about 2 tsp.
  • maybe ¼ C of olive oil
  • enough water to cover the roast in the pot.

Other than the ingredients list, my deviations from the recipe were I think limited to the fact that I put the carrots and potatoes in at the beginning. I may have let it simmer a bit (<= 30 min) longer than the prescribed amount of time.

The roast was not tied during cooking.

It turned out to be not unpalatable, but decidedly more bland and dry than I'd hoped for. The broth, on the other hand, is a bounding meadow of savoury deliciousness.

Other than the obvious — adding more spices — is there something I can do to future roasts to encourage more flavour to congregate in the meat?

3 Answers 3


My mother taught me to insert bits of garlic into slits made into the flesh of the roast before searing and then cooking it, something like what's described here.

Some people like cloves in there as well, though I more prefer that with bbq pork. For lamb, it's garlic and green olives. So, accordingly, you should be able to get creative and experiment with injecting some other things so the roast will take on flavors you prefer.

  • Nice, I'll try that trick next time.
    – intuited
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 3:27
  • 1
    One other thought.. overly trimming fat will reduce flavor, leave some on there.
    – zanlok
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 6:22
  • 1
    Trim fat? People do that?
    – intuited
    Commented Feb 28, 2011 at 21:51

Did you brown the meat before adding the liquid? (As described in the recipe.) You might consider browning the onions (and the other veggies) before adding the liquid as well. That would add lots of flavor for very little extra work. (It's vital to actually take the time to brown the meat, since that helps enormously to add flavor to the actual chunks of meat.)

In addition, I don't see salt and pepper in your ingredient list. Did you omit them from the roast, or just forget to write them in? I ask because often salt can make the difference between good flavor and blandness. Similarly, pepper can add a nice bite -- particularly when added both at the beginning and the end of the cooking process.

Other nice flavors to consider are adding some bay leaves, or herbs (the original recipe calls for basil, but oregano or rosemary would add nice notes), or lemon peel, or . . . the list goes on and on. Add what you like, and see how much of a difference it makes. (I'd probably add a touch of either cayenne or red pepper flakes, since I like a touch of heat -- but that depends on your taste.)

I would also second Zanlok's suggestion for adding fresh garlic. In addition, consider changing your acid (the white vinegar) for something with a bit more assertive flavor, such as lemon juice, cider vinegar, or wine vinegar. I find that white vinegar (while great for many uses) is a bit too one-note for interesting cooking unless you've got lots of other flavors.

  • I did brown the meat. I guess I left the oil out of the ingredients list. Also it seems like the broth is plenty flavourful, but that the meat just didn't absorb very much of it. Do any of the things you mention help with that? I gather that searing is supposed to help lock in the meat's flavour.. maybe this would have worked better if the roast had been tied?
    – intuited
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 3:28
  • Salt should help with the meat. You could also consider putting salt and pepper on the meat before you brown it. I'd also check to make sure that you have a tight seal on your pot -- and check your cooking temperature to make sure it's at a LOW simmer. Overcooking braised meat is really only an issue if it's too hot.
    – Martha F.
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 15:27

Well, unless you added some salt, or your "few good shots of Bragg's" was quite a bit, you might have been pretty seriously short on salt. Consider the volume of water, meat and veg you'd be trying to season. People get used to eating beef without salt so maybe that's not it, but if you're not already used to it, the meat will seem really bland if you don't use any (or very little).

Beyond that, I always remove the meat and most of the veg from the cooking liquid and then reduce the liquid some (or thicken it with a little starch, but that's only if I'm in a big rush). Then I can serve that as a gravy/sauce to go over everything, which dresses things up substantially and brings that lovely flavor to the meat. Reducing or thickening it helps it cling to the meat, which makes it nicer.

  • I would guess it was about half a cup of Bragg's.
    – intuited
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 3:30

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