The Secret Ingredient To Upgrade Your Pot Roast

Pot roast is the epitome of comfort food, but the dish of braised beef can, at times, run the risk of becoming a bit ho-hum. There are myriad ways to perk up a pot roast, but one many folks likely haven't considered is adding a tangy twist to this classic dish with the help of dill pickles. The zesty flavor and crunchy texture of pickles can transform a one-note pot roast into a nuanced culinary experience. Dill pickles bring a delightful brininess to a pot roast recipe, creating a harmonious contrast with the rich and tender meat.

The incorporation of dill pickles in recipes has gained popularity in recent years. Everything from fried chicken to cheese is being plunged into a pickle juice bath to capture some of that sour magic that works so well as a counter to richness. That's precisely why dill pickles and their brine are such a welcome addition to pot roast, itself a luscious and fatty dish.

A briny braise

To get started, pick the correct cut of beef for your pot roast. A lean cut will indeed braise down, but the result will be stringy and unpleasant. Instead, go for a cut of beef that is well-marbled and full of connective tissue that will break down in the braise and give your pot roast a rounded mouthfeel and gobs of beefy flavor. Chuck roast is the classic choice for pot roast, but brisket or bottom-round roast work just as well.

First, season the beef with salt and pepper and sear until a rich brown crust develops. If so desired, you can add flour to the outside of your beef, which aids with the browning and thickens the braising liquid that you may want to use as a sauce. Once browned, add chopped, sliced, spears, or whole dill pickles and brine to your preference in the pot. Then add back in your beef, cover, and place in a low-temperature oven to braise in all that pickle goodness over the course of several hours.

While pickles can shine alone with a pot roast, feel free to add other ingredients to the braise, such as mirepoix, beef stock, wine, or herbs. Another riff on pickle pot roast is a staple of the Magnolia State. Mississippi pot roast swaps out briny peperoncini and their juice for the pickles, and also adds ranch dressing and onion soup mixes. The result is a tender roast that is anything but ho-hum.