Braised Arm Roast

Braised Arm Roast

When Mark was a boy, his mom always started her Braised Arm Roast early on Sunday morning so that it was ready by the time they got back home from church. She learned from her mother that a long, low oven is key to transforming an inexpensive cut of meat into a tender treat.

Here’s a bonus. Leftovers freeze extremely well in freezer bags, which are then easily defrosted in the microwave for quick weekday lunches. Just right on Bread from Heaven rolls.

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Time: 4hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • 1 (3-4 pound) chuck arm roast (commonly labeled as chuck arm, arm roast, pot roast)
  • 1 tablespoon roughly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
To prepare, remove the roast from its packaging and place on a large plate; pat dry with a paper towel. Scatter seasonings over roast; massage into all sides. Cover with an inverted bowl; set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes before continuing. Drying the surface assists browning and helps the seasonings adhere. Taking the chill off promotes even braising.
  Place an oven rack in the lowest position; start preheating to 250°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer). Ovens often run hot or cold, or preheat slowly.
  • 2 large white or yellow onions, chopped
Meanwhile, prepare and set aside.

Tip: With onion on its side, cut off and discard stem and root. Cut in half from pole to pole; discard dry or tough layers. Place cut sides down and slice parallel to the equator to ½ inch, holding the pieces together as you work. Cut across slices to chop.

Holding slices together reduces exposure to eye-irritants.
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
Once the oven preheats, place a 6-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat and circulate the butter to coat the base. When it begins to foam (2-3 minutes) add the roast. Sear 3 minutes. Preheating the Dutch oven discourages sticking and promotes searing (rapid browning). The Maillard (my YARD) reaction (browning) adds rich flavor.
  With a big fork, or tongs (whichever feels most comfortable for the shape of the roast) turn and sear second side 3 minutes. Remove Dutch oven from heat. The goal is not to cook the meat through, but to simply achieve a sear on the two largest surfaces of the roast.
  • 2-3 dried bay leaves
  • ¼ cup beef broth
Arrange bay leaves around roast; add broth and prepared onions. Insert a barbecue thermometer probe (long probe, long cord, digital display) into the center of the roast. Cover and braise undisturbed in the oven to 200-205°F (3-4 hours). A barbecue thermometer takes the guesswork out of braising meat. Slow braising to 200°F preserves attractive reddish pigmentation (myoglobin) and breaks down connective tissue.
  Rest meat at room temperature 30 minutes before lifting the lid. For maximum liquid reabsorption, continue resting until the thermometer registers 120°F. Shred with two forks and transfer to a serving dish. Resting improves color and increases capacity to hold moisture.

Additional Testing Notes: Slowly heating meat to 160-180°F over 1-2 hours dissolves collagen into gelatin with minimal dehydration. If oven allows an extra low setting of 200°F, heat meat slowly to 120°F (2+ hours), then increase oven heat to 250°F to slowly to finish cooking to 180°F (1+ hour). It is similar to temperatures used in smokers.