Cloves Are The Secret Ingredient For A Boldly Flavored Pot Roast

If you're making pot roast, chances are you're opening up your spice cabinet. But if you haven't been reaching for the cloves, let this be a formal notice that you've been missing out. Cloves are a pantry staple for a reason; they're intense yet versatile enough to suit everything from chai spice tea to garam masala, Vietnamese pho, mulled wine, countless Indo-British dishes, and more. When it comes to your next pot roast, an overnight marinade is the key to emphasizing that knockout, warming, spiced clove flavor. To do it, simply toss a few cloves into your standard go-to pot roast marinade. As the meat tenderizes in the oven or slow cooker, it'll absorb the flavorful brine. Just choose the proper cut of meat (we recommend chuck or brisket) and cook until fork tender.

Cloves can be used for sweet or savory preparations and the accompanying spices and ingredients you pair them with make all the difference. You could balance the spiciness of the cloves with a complementary tangy combination of white wine, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. For a richer version perfect for cozying up on a chilly November evening, make your clove marinade with cinnamon, allspice, and a dark beer or stout. Or go extra savory and pair your cloves with coriander, cumin, Szechuan peppercorns, brown sugar, and red wine. For slight sweetness, you could even just marinade your pot roast in an autumnal slug of cloves and apple cider and call it a day. 

The spice of life might actually just be spice

However, less is more when it comes to powerful, aromatic cloves; that's because if their oils over-infuse, the flavor of the dish can become unpleasantly sharp and astringent. Preventing this is just a matter of frequently assessing the infusion with a smell-check. So use them sparingly at first, and if you prefer a stronger clove flavor, you can add more during cooking. An easy way to control when you can take them out is to use a sachet d'épices, which works just like a tea bag for steeping. It also saves you the tedious work of removing the cloves from the pan once the pot roast is finished cooking. If you don't have one on hand, you can grab a whole onion and stud it with several whole cloves, then pop it in with your meat as it cooks. 

Whole cloves also make an aesthetically pleasing garnish when you plate your pot roast, perfect for cold-season dinners and holiday parties. If you have any leftover marinade, you could use it as a flavorful cooking liquid for apples, carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, or fingerling potatoes. Complete the meal with a thick honey mead, a spiced hot toddy, or a glass of full-bodied red wine like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. As an added bonus, any leftover pot roast would make a flavorful base for a spiced beef stew. (We're all about two-for-one meals here).