There’s just something about cold winter months and big pots of beef simmering away on the stove or in the slow cooker. And if you’re looking for something sumptuous to make for dinner, pot roast is definitely at the top of the list. For many, making pot roast may seem like a culinary challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’ve been reticent to try this totally traditional meal, it might be because you’re unaware of the biggest pot roast mistake you’re making.

On the surface, it seems simple enough. Take one large cut of beef, throw it into a pot with some seasonings, potatoes, and carrots, and in a few hours, you’ll have a totally tender pot roast. Not so fast there, Rachael Ray. By far, the biggest blunder people make when attempting to make a pot roast is that they choose the wrong cut of meat (via TheKitchn). If you thought that picking an expensive cut would give you the best flavor and texture, think again. While a rib eye is right for a steak, you’ll need a tougher cut of beef for a pot roast, like the chuck, brisket, or the round. After all, all those hours cooking breaks down the tendons, rendering them soft and totally tender.

Three more steps to get your pot roast right

Once you’ve picked out the right roast, you’ll still need to take a few more steps in order to make it melt-in-your mouth delish. For starters, you should pat the meat dry and then sear it, per AllRecipes. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice, and then rub it all over the roast before searing it. This step gives the roast loads of extra flavor (and will make your house smell divine, too).

And those veggies we talked about earlier? Well, you can sauté them, too, in a bit of oil. This can also help in deglazing the pan before returning the roast to it. If you want to add some incredible flavor to your roast, you can always add some red wine in addition to other cooking liquids, like this recipe from Food & Wine.

But what can make (or break) your pot roast is the cooking time. Sure, you know that it can take hours to get it fork tender, but you don’t want to overcook the meat, either. That’s why you’ll need to know how long to continue the cooking process based on how you’re planning to prepare it. Better Homes and Gardens advises cooking for at least two hours on the stovetop as well as the oven, and 9-10 hours in a slow cooker set on low.

By far, the biggest pot roast mistake you’re likely making is buying the wrong type of beef. But once you get the right cut, you’ll only need a few minutes of hands-on prep time (and many hours of slow cooking), and you’ll soon have a delicious, filling meal — and luscious leftovers for days.

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