Pot roast. The classic American comfort food. It's meat and potatoes. I do enjoy a good pot roast. But sometimes I am in the mood for something lighter. Pot roast can be heavy. It's not as always so comforting. I have looked for ways to lighten up the classic. This post is all about showing you how to make pot roast lighter.
Lose the Beef?
Should I change the beef? Well pot roast isn't pot roast without beef (well unless it's bison!). You don't make pot roast with chicken or pork. This is a red meat dish.
What Kind of Beef Do I Use?
When making pot roast I always choose a chuck roast. It is a cheap cut of beef that becomes tender when you cook it for a long period of time. You can use a roast from the round section of the cow as well but I think chuck has more flavor. When you have the option go for bone-in meat. The bone will bring in more flavor. You may find a roast called a "7-bone roast". It doesn't have 7 bones in it, but it has a bone that is shaped like a 7. I don't find these often but when I do, this is what I use. Most of the time you are going to find boneless only and that's still ok.
Replace the Potatoes
Here is how I begin to lighten up the pot roast. First off get rid of the potatoes. Blasphemy you say. Well although I love potatoes and this is a meat and potato nation, they do tend to make the dish heavy. We need some other starch to replace the potatoes. Couscous is the perfect choice. Couscous are basically balls of semolina flour. I choose the small type of couscous, not the larger Israeli couscous, that I use most of the time. Couscous when prepared correctly can be light and fluffy. If done wrong it ends up being gummy and heavy - what we are trying to avoid. If you have never cooked couscous or don't know how to make it fluffy, check out my review of Alton Brown's way of preparing couscous.
Besides being light and fluffy, couscous is a whole grain food - so your body gets all the benefits of it being such.
Keep the Carrots
Don't worry I am not taking everything away from your grandma's pot roast. The carrots can stay. But I don't want them cooking the entire time with the meat. When you do they mushy and water logged. You can add the carrots either in the last hour of cooking or you could choose to steam or boil them separately then adding them into the roast. If you want to use any other veggie in your pot roast, treat them the same way, just remember how long they take to cook. Crunchy celery doesn't good in a pot roast.
Add Fresh Herbs
For my final tip, I say add fresh herbs. Fresh herbs had well freshness. Bright and liven the whole dish up. And this to me makes the meal feel lighter. For pot roast I like Italian parsley. Just chop it up and add it right at the table.
Moroccan Pot Roast Recipe
My all time favorite non-tradition, light pot roast recipe is my Moroccan Inspired Pot Roast. It follows all the rules I already laid out. It also contains chickpeas (garbanzo beans). The chickpeas bring a nice creamy flavor to the party as well as an added nutritionally punch, particularly protein. With adding them I can keep my actual serving of beef down, which strengths the meat further and keeps me from over consuming. Learn more about how to cook dried chickpeas in my original post with Moroccan Pot Roast recipe.
Spice It Up
My Moroccan pot roast also contain some spices inspired by Moroccan cuisine - cumin, paprika, and cinnamon. Yes I said cinnamon. Don't worry the pot roast won't taste like cinnamon rolls, however it will still make your house smell nice while giving the beef a richer flavor.
Moroccan Pot Roast
- 3 to 4 lb chuck roast
- 2 cups beef stock or broth
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- cooking oil
- 3 medium carrots peeled and cut on the bias
- chopped parsley
- 2 cups of cooked couscous
- 8 ounces of cooked chickpeas
Preparing the beef
- Heat up a skillet over medium high heat with about a tablespoon of oil. Liberally salt the beef on both sides. Add to the pan.
- Cook until the meat is brown on one side, flip and do the next side.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Place the beef in a slow cooker. Immediately take about ⅓ cup of the beef broth and add it the pan. Gently scrap all the brown bites that are sticking to the bottom of the pan. Then dump the liquid into the slow cooker.
- Add the spices and garlic.
- Cook for 4 to 6 hours or until the meat is falling apart.
- Add the carrots during the final hour of cooking.
Finishing the dish
- When the beef is tender. Add in 8 ounces of cooked chickpeas. Serve the pot roast over a bed of couscous. Add chopped fresh parsley on top and serve.
Another unique pot roast recipe, check out my Greek Inspired Pot Roast that contains feta and orzo.