The spices in pot roast are often not the focus of the recipe; however, they are essential to its success. Along with the seasonings, you will also want to ensure that the cooking time and temperature are adequate. Quality ingredients along with a low and slow cooking method will deliver a tender and succulent roast. Here are the right spices to use on your pot roast.
A key element in savory dishes, onions make up a big part of the pot roast flavor profile. All kinds of onions will work. A yellow onion will bring an assertive, pungent herbaceous flavor profile while a green onion will bring an even sharper version of the same taste but with a more powerful grassy note. Onion powder will work as well and can provide nuttiness to go with the umami element of the onion flavor.
Red wine brings several benefits to a pot roast including acidity and tannins. The acid and tannins in cooking wine can help to soften the muscle fibers of the pot roast while providing a delightful complement to the other flavors in the dish. The alcohol in the wine can help to bring out the flavors of other ingredients while also helping to break down fat in the dish. You may want to avoid sweet wines since pot roast won’t usually be enhanced by sweet flavors. Look for the driest red wine you can find.
You will see thyme in most versions of pot roast. In some cases, it will be the only herbal component. A member of the mint family, thyme is more assertive than other mints like basil and spearmint. It is not as sweet and offers up a strong camphoraceous note along with a little bitterness that can help to enhance the savory properties of pot roast. Thyme pairs well with onions, red wine and other pot roast seasonings.
Another popular herb for pot roast, rosemary also belongs to the mint family just like thyme. It does not show up in as many recipes as thyme. Rosemary has a piney, resinous flavor that can add a distinctive fragrant note to pot roast. Not only will rosemary enhance the taste of the pot roast itself, but it is also a great flavor for the potatoes and other vegetables accompanying it.
Another ingredient that doesn’t always show up in pot roast recipes, garlic can enhance the roast’s meatiness with its earthy and sulfurous background note. Some recipes omit garlic so that all the aromatic, brothy flavors come from onion but garlic’s pungency can do a lot of increasing the umami of pot roast and saving it from blandness.
The only source of heat in a traditional pot roast recipe, black pepper should be freshly ground. While the pre-ground stuff is better than nothing, fresh ground black pepper will add a spicier bite along with complex flavor and aroma notes that include hints of citrus and pine.
You won’t see paprika in some pot roast recipes. Its visual benefits are usually lost in what is usually a dark brown dish without much in the way of color. That said, it can provide some flavor benefits like a little fruitiness as well as heat and smokiness depending on the type of paprika. Get the most from its flavor benefits by adding it later in the cooking time.