Monday, March 24, 2014

Slow Cooker Sunday

MIDTERMS ARE OVER!  I don't even think that all caps does that statement justice.  School and work have been so busy that I haven't gotten to post anything this month, so I wanted to make a really special dinner for a relaxing Sunday night and practice my Crock Pot skills.  I made Howie and I a deliciously tender beef pot roast with potatoes, veggies, and a side of flaky biscuits.  I'll admit, it's definitely a winter dish, but it was also snowing yesterday, so I think it's justified.  And who wouldn't pair this comfort meal with a night that involved making (non-visual) progress on our 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and watching American Hustle.

I started making the meal at 11:30 a.m., and it was ready to eat by 6:30 p.m., so plan for about 7-8 hours. Every good pot roast, especially its gravy, needs some fresh veggies in the pot for flavor, so I used onions, garlic, celery, carrots, brussel sprouts, and peeled potatoes.  

In a large skillet, I heated about 3 tbsp. of olive oil over medium high heat.  I started by putting the onions in the skillet and letting them brown for about 5 minutes to develop that golden brown, crisp crunch that adds loads of flavor to the juices in the Crock Pot.  I left some of the onions together in large chunks, and some of the onions in smaller pieces, but they all fall apart in the slow cooker anyway; if the onions don't hold their form, don't worry!

Now that we got a delicious onion flavor infused into the oil, it was time to remove the onions from the pan and add the garlic, brussel sprouts, celery, and carrots.  The brussel sprouts and garlic cook in about 3 minutes, so watch them like a hawk!  I turned the brussel sprouts after 2 minutes and they developed a golden brown hue on one side...meanwhile, the celery and carrots barely had any color!  I took the garlic and brussel sprouts out, and let the carrots and celery keep cooking for an extra 4 minutes. Mmmmm flavor!

 Next up was the star of the show, the roast!  I chose a 1.5 pound chuck roast, but would highly recommend getting a larger roast due to the fatty content of this cut of beef.  I'll be honest, I thought this size would be more than enough for 2 people, and I would have all these great leftovers for sandwiches the next day...and then comes the sad moment when I cut it up and we were only left with 2 small pieces of lean meat because of the way the fat was marbled inside.  Chuck roast is perfect for a slow cooker because it begins to fall apart the longer it sits, but definitely get at least a 2.5 pound piece, even more if the dish is for 4 people.  After seasoning GENEROUSLY with salt and pepper, I seared each side of the beef for about 2 minutes to lock all of the delicious juices inside before transferring it to the Crock Pot. It looks tempting, but don't try to take a sample of the roast after this short searing, it's completely uncooked on the inside!

After removing the roast, I poured 1/2 cup of beef broth into the skillet to deglaze the pan and remove all of the delicious flavors from the sides into the broth.  I carefully put the roast on the bottom of the Crock Pot and loaded the veggies into the nooks and crannies next to and on top of the beef.  In a large liquid measuring cup, I combined 1-1/2 cups beef broth, 1/2 cup water, 2 tbsp. tomato paste, and a packet of Lipton Beefy Onion Soup Mix together until fairly smooth, and poured the mixture on top of the meat and veggies.  I added the remaining broth, along with 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, and 1/4 cup ground black pepper to top of the mixture and gave a little stir to mix the spices into the broth.  I peeled the potatoes, and set them gently on top of the mixture so they don't get too soft, and let the Crock Pot do its thing all afternoon on low heat.

One word of advice: DO NOT CUT THE POTATOES IN HALF.  I let my impatience get the better half of me around 2:30 when everything else was starting to cook and the potatoes were still rock hard, and cut 2 of them in half.  These 4 halves literally disintegrated into the broth by the time dinner rolled around.  Be patient!  Once we were ready to eat, I placed the meat on a cutting board to carve, and put the veggies on a separate serving plate.  If the meat is about to fall apart when you move it, then you cooked it just right!  I whisked 4 tbsp. flour into 1/4 cup water until there were no lumps, and added this mixture directly into the juice in the crock pot to thicken the gravy to pour over top, stirring quickly while adding the flour.  It's time to serve and enjoy...and don't forget the flaky biscuits!

Just for laughs...this is our progress on the puzzle after almost 3 hours of puzzling.  The progress is pretty non-existent, I'm aware.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share your thoughts!