What’s The Difference Between Pot Roast And Roast Beef

What is roast beef?

Is roast beef more of a centerpiece for a meal or a cold cut? It can be both, as satisfying to eat as a sandwich with heaping slices of beef sandwiched between thick slices of hearty bread or as a steaming cut of beef straight out of the oven with mashed potatoes and a dollop of horseradish cream.

There are many large cuts of beef that make excellent roasts, as we’ve previously discussed here, but before you buy, make sure you know what you want. Certain cuts, such as the petite roast shoulder, are best prepared quickly at a higher temperature, producing an interior that is red to pink and has an amazing crust. Cuts like bottom round roast that have higher levels of fat, connective tissue, or both require a more gentle cooking method to bring them to a tender state. When the cut and cooking method are matched, you can start to consider seasoning the meat. A generous amount of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and rosemary combined in an herbaceous rub can greatly enhance the meat’s crust. Another great choice is a robust marinade, especially for the leaner cuts that don’t have the flavor that fat adds.

A crucial consideration is the manner in which you cut the finished item. Long muscle fibers that run the length of the beef are present in many of the cuts used to make roast beef. For these, note the grain’s direction and cut at an angle that is opposite to it.

Chuck appears to be the best cut for pot roast – which comes from the front of the cow – while round is a great choice for roast beef – which comes from the back of the cow.

Roast beef tends to be more used for sandwiches, in which case you’ll want a cut that isn’t so tender it just falls apart. LiveStrong.com (a great website I use frequently for these type of posts) says:

Pot roast is cooked in water, wine, stock, or broth. It’s made from chuck, brisket, or round cuts. Chuck roasts are very rich and flavorful; brisket and round cuts slice neater but aren’t as tender.

The main difference between pot roast and roast beef is that pot roast is cooked in liquid and roast beef is cooked dry.

Naturally, asking your butcher for advice is a safe bet if you’re still unsure about which cut is best for a given dish.

The beef cow’s hindquarters’ upper thigh is where the top round roast is cut. Because the top round is not a heavily worked muscle, the roast it produces is more flavorful and tender than other round cuts. Supermarkets frequently mislabel and sell top round as London broil, which is actually a technique for cooking tough cuts of beef rather than a real beef cut. A top round roast can also be prepared in a slow cooker, braised, roasted, or stewed. You can even slice it for use in sandwiches.

A triangle cut from the upper portion of the round, or the hindquarters, is called a rump roast. The beef is flavorful and lean, just like other well-executed muscles. However, because it can be tough, the rump roast should be cooked slowly at lower temperatures, giving the connective tissue in the cut time to soften and melt.

The round tip roast, sometimes referred to as the sirloin tip roast, is cut from the hindquarters next to the sirloin. Although the sirloin tip roast has a flavorful taste, it should be braised or stewed because, like most lean cuts, it can be tough. You can also use the sirloin tip roast for kebabs or slow roast it in the oven at a low temperature.

Chuck roast is cut from the cows shoulder. Because it is a highly worked muscle, the beef has a nice flavor, but it is also tough. Chuck has a high fat to meat ratio (20 percent fat to 80 percent meat is considered the best for a hamburger), so it is frequently ground for hamburgers. Chuck is used to make a very tender pot roast or stew when cubed because the connective tissue melts during the braising and self-basting process. Additional roasts derived from the chuck include the Boston Cut, English Roast, and Cross Cut.

Steak or heifer rear legs are used to cut the inexpensive eye of round roast. Though it looks like tenderloin, the eye of round is tough and lean since it is cut from a well-worked muscle. Searing over high heat and slow roasting, braising, simmering, or poaching are some methods for cooking eye of round. But since it’s so flavorful, you can also cook it like roast beef. The eye of round should always be thinly sliced against the grain, just like with other difficult cuts.