March 6, 2011

Pot Roast

"Did you ever stop to taste a carrot? Not just eat it, but taste it? You can't taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie." ~Astrid Alauda

This is a great recipe to pull out whenever you have a crazy/lazy day scheduled. If spring ever gets here in Upstate New York, I know many of us will be shuffling kids from games to practice, working in the yard, or just enjoying the long, overdue sunshine.  The last thing we want to do is stand inside chopping onions and stirring a soup pot. Slow cooker recipes are wonderful for nights you don't want to tie yourself to the stove. Flip a switch in the morning, and dinner is ready and waiting when you come home at five! If you're lucky, there will be leftovers for lunch the next day.

I've tried this dish a few different ways, and the rule has to be:  cook it "s-l-o-w". You can bake it in the oven or use a crock pot on the lowest setting. Also, I don't use the typical variety of vegetables, mainly because I feel they come out too soggy if used in a slow cooker. I love garlic smashed potatoes with the roast, so I cook some vegetables, like the potatoes, separate. You can personalize this recipe by tossing in whatever you'd like, such as yellow onions, red potatoes, celery, and so on. Anything goes! (Try using all organic ingredients if possible, including the meat).

Pot Roast/Slow Cooker
serves 4-6

One 4 lb. boneless chuck roast (organic, grass-fed if possible)
2 large leeks
4 large carrots
1 Italian sweet pepper (also called cubanelle)
3 garlic cloves
olive oil
salt/fresh cracked pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 and 1/2 cups good quality beef broth
1 can - condensed cream of mushroom soup (low sodium)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons tomato paste
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning

Rinse the beef with cold water, pat dry with paper toweling, then set aside. Wash and scrub the carrots, leeks and pepper. You don't want to slice the veggies too thin, it's best to quarter them into chunks. Cut up the carrots...
then the leeks (be sure there's no residue, they can be a bit on the "earthy" side).
Thickly slice the pepper...
then the garlic. Slice off the top and bottom of the garlic. Give a little whack to each clove with the back of your knife. Peel and leave whole.
Place the vegetables in the bottom of your slow cooker, heavy stoneware pan, or dutch oven.
Now prepare the roast. Heat a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of a large skillet. Rub a few handfuls of flour into the roast, then generously salt and pepper. Do this to both sides.
"Searing" is a technique that seals in meat juices very quickly. On medium high heat, place the roast into the pan. Brown for 3-4 minutes...
...flip, and brown the other side.
Remove the roast from the pan, and set it on top of the veggies in the slow cooker or ovenware. Wipe out the oil from the pan with a damp paper towel. In the same pan, you're going to make a "roux", which is a butter-flour paste used for thickening sauces and gravies.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat...
add a small handful of flour,
then stir until you see the flour begin to dissolve into the butter, about 1 minute.
Be sure the beef broth you're using is free from excess fat. It should look clear and grease free.
Slowly add the broth to the butter-flour paste. Using a whisk, combine until the butter has melted and there are no lumps. Now whisk in the condensed soup.
Add a good, quality organic tomato paste. I like to use Muir Glen products.
Add three generous teaspoons to the broth mixture.
Continue to gently whisk ingredients together. Add a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce (or you can measure), and finally, the red wine and dried Italian herbs. Keep whisking!
Now have a taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary. Slowly pour sauce over the roast and veggies.
For slow cookers: Cover, and cook 8 hours on low setting.  For ovenware: Cover tightly, cook at 300 degrees for 3-4 hours.
You want to be able to shred the meat with a fork. If it doesn't seem as tender as you'd like, thinly slice and place it back in the oven or slow cooker for another hour or so.


Ispirato Design said...

I'm so happy I finally had a night to relax and look at some blogs that aren't design related. I'm your newest follower and this is my first food blog! So many recipes that are my kind of cooking!

"Vanilla and Thyme" said...

Thanks so much! I really love your blog, it's so inspirational-