I have only recently discovered this amazing thing called pot roast. I mean, I've eaten it at other people's houses, liked some of them and not liked some of them, but up until about a month ago I had never done one myself. Well, I think I might have tried one years and years ago, didn't like how it turned out, and never tried again. But now I've made 4 or 5 in the past month, it may be one of my new favorite things. I've been trying to get a little more protein and meat in our diet (less pasta and rice!), so I'm trying new meat things. Not only is it soooo good, but it fits one of my top criteria for cooking: it is easy! Now - I feel the need to say this: would you people please stop making pot roasts with envelopes and packages and cans of processed stuff? It's so not necessary. There's no work at all involved in making this delicious - meat, seasonings, onions, mushrooms if you like. You just don't need all the additives and goodness-knows-what in those packages of stuff, there's no way those processed things could make this any better.
Here's how I'm doing mine:
- 1 4 lb roast. I've found that I prefer it with a more fatty cut, this was a chuck, it comes out more moist (and makes better gravy!)
- 2 large onions
- garlic - 6 or so big cloves
- other veggies if you want - potatoes, carrots, parsnips, celery root, whatever you have.
- thyme, bay leaves, sometimes rosemary
Generously season the meat on all sides with salt and pepper. And brown it. I have a slow cooker with a metal insert that can go on the stove top, so I just brown it in the slow cooker pan. I don't add any oil to the pan, the meat I'm using is fatty enough. But if you prefer a leaner cut you might need a little oil. When it's brown on all sides, transfer over to the slow cooker. Then I chop the onions roughly and throw those in. Put the mushrooms in - whole or cut up. Put the whole garlic cloves in. Sprinkle some other herbs on top. If you are using other veggies and you want them cooked until they are falling apart (I like that sometimes, and you can use these to make a really delicious flourless gravy), then put them in now too. Otherwise wait an hour or so. (Note that I haven't added any liquid - that's ok in my slow cooker, but I think some brands say that you have to have some liquid or it will get too hot, so check your instructions.) And put the lid on. Cook on high for 4 - 4 1/2 hours. (I suppose you could do it on low for longer time, but I haven't tried that yet.) I like to put a piece of foil over the top and then put my lid on, I think it keeps it a little hotter and keeps all the moisture in.
If I think about it I'll go in halfway through and turn the meat over. But I don't always. After 4+ hours, everything is falling apart, the cooker is half filled with juices, and it is done. And it smells so good! The whole house smells amazing. Take the meat out, set in a dish, and cover with foil to keep warm.
From here you can use your juices, and your veggies if you like, to make gravy. Sometimes I make a traditional gravy - flour & butter in a pan to make a roux (look it up, I'm not going to teach you), and then add the hot pan juices to it, along with some extra broth if needed. Season with a bit more thyme or other stuff if you like. I like to throw it in the Vitamix to blend up all the chunks of onion and mushrooms - this makes a delicious beefy, oniony, mushroomy gravy. You don't have to blend in the chunks if you like to see them in your gravy, but my kids are more likely to eat it without chunks. If you have pretty fatty juices already, skip the butter and just blend in some flour and then simmer it to thicken. I know, I'm being vague - but I'm assuming you know how to make gravy, or you have a stack of cookbooks that can give you step by step directions better than I could. I just wing it.
If you put a bunch of root veggies in with your meat, you can just take all that and throw it in the Vitamix, purreeing cooked root veggies are a great way to make a delicious flourless gravy. My kids don't love this so much, a little too much veggie taste, but I think it's great.
What we had tonight is pictured below - I made a nice gravy by mixing some flour with some cold broth, then blending that in the Vitamix with all the drippings from the slow cooker, including the cooked onions and whole garlic cloves. I took out the whole mushrooms to serve on the side. We had it over mashed potatoes and cauliflower, mashed with some half & half, butter, cream cheese, garlic, salt & pepper. My kids have finally decided to start eating mashed potatoes (well, all but the one who eats nothing), and I've discovered that I can hide quite a bit of cauliflower in the mashed potatoes, and they don't even notice. And also on the side we had a little broccolini that I just cooked quickly in the microwave, and tossed in a homemade cheese sauce that I made the other day.
This right here folks is Sunday dinner, comfort food style.