As you may remember, The Boy and I try to have a nice Shabbat dinner together most Fridays. Most of the time, because I’m working all day, it’s a quick and easy fish or chicken dish. Last week, I decided to be a little fancier and go with a pot roast. But who has time for that when you’ve been working all day? Turns out, me! Yep, time to break out the old slow cooker again! Well, the new slow cooker. These bad boys have come a LONG way. I’m sure we’ve all had slow cooker pot roasts that were basically shoe leather. I don’t understand the technology but somehow, these things have been engineered to not cook the everloving crap out of whatever is inside.
This is another of those recipes that, with a little planning in the morning, you can come home to a wonderful meal without a whole lot of trouble.
There is some debate as to whether searing the meat before braising is actually necessary. It is not necessary for proper cooking, but I find that it gives the meat a bit more structure and lots more flavor. So I simply rub whatever meat I am cooking (in this case a 3 lb chuck roast) with salt and pepper and sear on all sides until a nice brown crust is formed. I follow up by sweating celery, onion and carrot (mirepoix) and some garlic in the same pan. Deglaze the pan with some red wine or beef stock and throw it all in the slow cooker with some herbs (with just enough liquid to not quite cover the meat) and a can of tomatoes. When you get home from work, you can very quickly put together a couple of sides and you’ll be good to go for a very nice, traditional family dinner.
Whether you are celebrating Shabbat or simply having a nice meal with your family, a good pot roast is comfort food. It makes you think of family and home.
Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- 3-4 lb beef roast (I used a chuck roast because it was on sale this week), mine is rolled up and trussed with some kitchen string, but you don’t have to do that
- salt and pepper
- 2-3 T vegetable oil, divided
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 whole garlic cloves
- 2 C (approximately one can) beef stock, water or wine (or some combination of these, I used stock and wine)
- 1 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- Bundle of fresh herbs (I used thyme and oregano), optional (tie with bay leaf in a piece of kitchen twine for easy removal at the end)
Salt and pepper all sides of your beef. Heat 2 T oil until almost smoking in a large skillet over medium high heat. Carefully place seasoned beef in pan – it’s going to sizzle like crazy. Turn after a few minutes or until nice crust is formed on first side, about 3-5 minutes. Continue to turn and brown the entire thing. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate. Reduce heat to medium-low.
Add remaining oil to pan if necessary and add celery, onions, carrots and garlic. Saute and stir for about five minutes until they begin to become slightly translucent and are beginning to brown. Remove veggies to crock pot with canned tomatoes. Combine everything well.
Increase heat to medium high and add whatever liquid you are using to deglaze the pan. Stir liquid, scraping up any delicious brown bits until it begins to bubble.
Place beef roast in bowl of slow cooker with veggies adding all the drippings from the plate it’s been resting on. Pour liquid from skillet over top and toss bay leaf (and herbs if using) in there with it. Liquid should come about half way up the meat. You don’t want to fully cover it or you’ll end up with boiled meat. Yuck.
Set slow cooker to low and cook 6-8 hours (I tell mine what time I want to eat and don’t have to set a temp).
When done, remove meat from slow cooker and set aside to rest. Turn off slow cooker. Remove bay leaf and herb bundle (if using) and discard. Allow veggies and liquid to cool for a little while (make your sides now). Skim off any excess fat. Then use an immersion blender (my “stick” blender is one of my top five kitchen gadgets) or transfer veggie and liquids to a blender and carefully blend until smooth (Hot liquids in a blender can be pretty explosive so either use an immersion blender or do not firmly attach the lid of your blender. Cover top of blender with a kitchen towel to protect from boiling hot splatters!). Instant delicious gravy. If it’s not thick enough, you can simmer over low heat to reduce it to desired consistency.
Cut off strings if you have trussed the roast. Slice meat against the grain, plate it up and drizzle with gravy. Who am I kidding? Drown it if you like.
I serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles, nice green vegetables and crusty bread or challah for a satisfying home cooked meal.