Pikes Peak roast is a specialty beef cut popular in Colorado. The name “Pikes Peak” comes from a famous mountain. If your butcher isn’t familiar with the term, ask them for the “heel of round” roast.
You might be wary that such an inexpensive (and tough) cut of meat won’t be worth cooking. I promise that if you let it braise for several hours, you’ll have a spectacular meal.
I’ve made some fantastic pot roasts using the Pikes Peak cut. In this article, I’ll share my secrets for cooking the best Pikes Peak roast and a selection of recipes for you to try.
What Is Pikes Peak Roast?
Pikes Peak roast is an inexpensive cut of beef. It’s also known as the “heel of round.” It comes from the animal’s behind, just above the hock. It contains a high amount of connective tissues and small muscles.
When you braise this cut, the connective tissue breaks down, and the meat becomes meltingly tender.
Classic Pikes Peak Pot Roast
This basic recipe is so popular because it’s delicious. If you’re going to be home for a while before dinner, you can cook this meal in the oven with little work. The prep work is easy, and after you’ve gotten the roast in the stock pot with the braising liquid, it is hands-off for three hours or more.
Ingredients For 6 Servings:
- 3 lbs. Pikes Peak or heel of round roast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped or use a 14.5 oz can of tomatoes
- 2 ribs celery (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 cups red wine (Merlot, Zinfandel, and Cabernet work well)
- 3 cups of water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Ovenproof Dutch oven or stockpot (a Dutch oven will give you better results)
- Large skillet (optional)
- Large, sturdy tongs or meat forks
- Immersion blender
Even though the cooking process is slow, it doesn’t take much effort. Here are the simple steps you need to follow.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Step 2: Season the Meat
Before seasoning, pat your roast dry with a paper towel. A dry surface will help the roast brown more evenly.
Season generously with salt and pepper. If you season well, your meat will develop a beautiful crust when you brown it, called the “Maillard Reaction.”
If you have time, it’s even better to season the meat the night before, wrapping it in plastic in the refrigerator. This step will allow the salt and pepper to penetrate the meat and give you a deeper flavor.
Step 3: Browning
You can brown the meat in the Dutch oven or use a large skillet. I always go for the Dutch oven, so I have fewer dishes to wash.
Add the olive oil to a hot pan and let it warm up before browning. If you don’t let your oil get hot enough, it will steam your roast instead of browning it, and you’ll have a gray color on your meat.
Put the roast in the pot with tongs or meat forks. Be careful. It will be heavy and hot oil can cause burns if it splashes.
Brown the meat all over, not just the top and bottom. This step will help to create the crust I mentioned above.
Step 4: Brown the Vegetables
Take the roast from the stock pot and put it on a platter to rest for a few minutes while you cook the vegetables.
Add your onions and carrots to the hot pan and let them cook until they are nice and brown all over. Save the garlic for the last minute of browning because you don’t want your garlic to turn bitter and burnt.
Step 5: Deglaze the Stock Pot With the Wine
The next step is to deglaze the pot with the wine. Deglazing sounds intimidating, but it means that you should pour the wine in and use it to scrape off the little brown bits from the bottom of the pan for more flavor.
Step 6: Add Veggies and Roast Back to the Pot
Next, everything but 1 cup of water goes back into the pot.
Step 7: Add Water, Tomatoes, and More Seasoning
Add 2 cups of water, chopped or canned tomatoes, and more salt and pepper.
Step 8: Put Roast in Oven
The next step is the easiest and means you’re off the hook for a while. Put the roast in the oven and let it cook for 3 hours.
Step 9: Take the Roast Out
Remove the pot from the oven with caution, as the lid (and handle) will be extremely hot.
Remove the roast from the Dutch oven, putting it on a clean platter.
Step 10: Blend the Gravy
Some people like chunks of vegetables in their pot roast. If you’re one of these people, skip this step.
Otherwise, add a cup of water to the pot and use an immersion blender to puree the gravy. An immersion blender is easier and safer than a standard blender.
Step 11: Serve
Your Pikes Peak roast will be tender and ready to serve. Slice the roast into 3/4 inch slices and return it to the pot with the gravy to soak up more flavor and moisture before serving.
Slow Cooker Pikes Peak Roast
You don’t have to be home all day to make a beautiful Pikes Peak roast. Pot roast is simple enough that you can let your slow cooker do all the work.
Steps 1 to 4
These steps are the same as above. You may feel that you’ll save time by throwing everything in the slow cooker and skipping the steps of browning and deglazing, but you’ll miss out on many flavors.
Step 5: Add Ingredients to the Slow Cooker
Everything remaining can go in the slow cooker, including 2 cups of water, tomatoes, and garlic.
Step 6: Cook
Cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours. You can also cook it on high heat for 4 to 6 hours. Pot roast is better when cooked on low heat, but high heat is fine if you are short on time.
Skip to Step 9 and prepare to serve.
Instant Pot Pikes Peak Roast
If you need your pot roast fast, turn to a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.
I recently started using an Instant Pot after receiving one as a gift. I feared it for a while because I’d witnessed pressure cooker accidents as a child when my grandmother was canning beans.
My friends eventually talked me into using it, and I haven’t looked back. The trick to using an Instant Pot is following the recipes strictly until you get used to how the pressure cooker behaves differently than a regular slow cooker. You might not get the right results if you don’t use a recipe tailored for an Instant Pot.
If your machine has that feature, you can brown your roast right in the Instant Pot. This feature saves time and dirty dishes.
The significant difference with this method is that you will need to use beef broth instead of plain water in the Instant Pot. The pressure cooker doesn’t have time to extract all the beef flavors, so use 4 cups of beef broth in place of water.
Follow the recipe below.
Ingredients for Six Servings
- 3 to 5-pound Pikes Peak roast
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
- 1 lb. baby potatoes or creamer potatoes
- 4 large carrots, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 c beef broth
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
Step 1: Season Your Roast
Ideally, the night before, make your seasoning blend. Stir salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika (optional) in a small bowl and rub it all over the roast.
Step 2: Set Your Instant Pot To Saute
Let your Instant Pot warm up, and then add the oil. Wait 30 seconds, then place the roast in the pot with tongs. Let it brown for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Again, get the roast’s top, bottom, and sides, standing it on end and holding it with the tongs if necessary.
Step 3: Assemble Ingredients
Add onions, potatoes, and carrots to the pot, arranging them around the roast. Pour the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth over the contents of the pot.
Step 4: Cook
Put your Instant Pot on the “pressure cook” setting on high for 60 minutes for a 3-pound roast and 80 minutes for a 5-pound roast.
Let the pot do a 10-minute natural release when the time is up. After the natural release, put the vent on the venting release function. This step will allow the steam to release. Make sure the float valve has dropped before removing the lid for safety.
Step 5: Make Gravy
Take out the meat and vegetables, using a strainer to get small bits from the pot. Set the Instant Pot to “Soup.”
Whisk the water and corn starch together. When the broth boils, stir in the corn starch mixture until it thickens. This process typically takes about a minute. Add seasonings to taste.
Step 6: Serve
Pour the gravy over the sliced roast and vegetables. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to your questions about cooking and serving Pikes Peak roast.
What should I serve with Pikes Peak roast?
Now that your main dish is under control, it’s time to think about sides. My favorite side with pot roast is creamy mashed potatoes. Some other options include:
- Polenta: Polenta is a creamy cornmeal porridge that pairs well with pot roast, especially if you add Italian flavors like flat-leaf parsley and garlic.
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are a lovely lower-glycemic substitution for white potatoes.
- Crusty Bread, Homemade Biscuits, or Cornbread
It’s nice to serve a green salad on the side for a new flavor contrast. You could also serve mixed steamed or roasted vegetables for a hot side dish.
Does Pikes Peak roast have bones?
Pikes Peak roast is a boneless cut that is easy to cook and carve.
Where can I get Pikes Peak roast?
Butchers in the Mountain states call it Pikes Peak roast, but elsewhere, it is called heel of round roast or boneless pot roast. You should be able to ask your local butcher.
Are there any alternatives for these recipes if I can’t get Pikes Peak roast where I live?
Yes, any boneless pot roast or chuck roast will be fine. The lengthy cooking time (or speedy cook in the Instant Pot) provides a tender, tasty meal. Try to get a Pikes Peak or heel of round roast if you can because it has excellent flavors.
I wouldn’t say I like to put wine in my pot roast. Are there any good alternatives?
Yes, you have many options for adding acid to your pot roast. Acids like wine help break down the connective tissues, make the meat more tender, and add richness to the gravy. However, you can use other sources of acid or enzymes.
Here are some alternatives to red wine that you can try:
- Balsamic vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Cranberry juice
- Red grape juice
- Black tea
- Soy sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
Watch the amounts of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce that you use, and don’t try to substitute them for wine cup for cup. You’ll end up with far too much acid.
Pikes Peak roast is one of my favorite cuts of meat for pot roast. I hope I’ve given you a good primer on how to cook it in the oven, slow cooker, and Instant Pot.
Braising is an excellent way to transform a less-expensive cut of meat into a satisfying meal for the whole family. You’ll have even better leftovers the next day if you’re lucky.
Try these recipes today and see how easy it is to create a warm and filling family meal with Pikes Peak roast.