Pot roast, an American classic, has been warming the bellies of families for generations. This simple, easy-to-make meal traditionally combines a large cut of beef, generally a bottom or top round, chuck or brisket and root vegetables such as onions, potatoes and carrots in a large stew pot simmered to perfection. For cooks who are just learning how to work with meat, a primary question concerns how to know when a pot roast is cooked enough to serve. When working with meat, use these time-honored methods for determining when to turn off the heat.
Purchase or borrow a kitchen thermometer. Learning how to use a kitchen thermometer will prevent you from serving undercooked and potentially dangerous food to your family and friends.
Follow the instructions that come with the thermometer. A common type of thermometer found in grocery or kitchen specialty stores is the “instant-read” thermometer. These thermometers are either digital or standard and have a probe attached to one end and a number display on the other.
Insert the probe end of the thermometer into the center of the pot roast after it has been cooking for the time indicated on the pot roast recipe. Most pot roast recipes call for about two-and-a-half hours of cooking time, but the length will vary depending on the size of the roast.
Read the number displayed on the thermometer. The USDA recommends that round or rump roasts cook to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit and chuck and brisket to 160 degrees Fahrenheit to be eaten safely. Some older recipe books may call for cooks to roast meat until it is “fork tender,” meaning the meat can pull easily off the roast with a fork. However, this is not a reliable measure of safe food handling. Rely on the temperature gauge to determine when your pot roast has cooked completely.