Thursday, March 23, 2006

The perfect pot roast

Slow-Cooker Pot Roast with Caramelized Onion Gravy
The Essential Eating Well Cookbook Copyright 2004

1 4-pound boneless top or bottom round beef roast, trimmed of fat, twine on
(I didn't trim or tie my roast)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ cup brewed coffee or 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules dissolved in ½ cup boiling water
I used brewed coffee
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water

1. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat ½ tablespoon oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and sear until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a 4-quart slow cooker.
2. Add remaining ½ tablespoon oil to skillet; reduce heat to medium. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in coffee and vinegar; pour onion mixture over beef.
3. Cover and cook on high until beef is tender but not falling apart, about 4 ½ hours. Transfer beef to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, pour juices from slow cooker into a medium saucepan. Skim off fat. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan. Cook, whisking constantly, until gravy has thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Remove twine from beef and carve. Serve with gravy.

Makes about 12 servings, with 4 cups gravy. Per serving: 174 calories, 6 G fat, 67 mg chol,
4 G carbs, 32 G protein, 0 G fiber, 99 mg sodium

I was skeptical about this recipe. I was sure the meat would be tough since the roast I used (I can't remember if it was bottom round or some kind of rump roast or is there even a difference?) is one without a lot of fat running through it. I usually roast it at a high temperature and serve it medium-rare. But this meat was perfect. Tender but not stringy. I've never had such a perfectly cooked piece of beef come out of the slow cooker. I cooked this the night before and when it was time to serve it, I heated and thickened the gravy on the stovetop and I sliced the beef and wrapped it in foil and heated that in the oven.

I couldn't make my mind up about the gravy. When I took it out of the slow cooker I wasn't thrilled with it (I didn't season it with salt and pepper until I reheated it). But I was congested and my taste buds weren't performing at their peak so it was hard for me to judge it. When I ate it with the beef, I felt like it should be sweeter but that's only because I'm used to sweet gravies since most of the stews I've been making have some brown sugar added to them. In the end, I decided I really did like the gravy, it was just more 'sophisticated' than I'm used to but that's a good thing. We really need to get away from the sweet stuff.

This is one of my new cookbooks, from Eating Well. I think I'm going to like it. It's a bit fancy, but not over the top.

Question of the Day: Do you own a slow cooker? How often do you use it?


The Cookbook Junkie said...

I used to use my slow cooker quite a bit - I would throw just about anything I could in there for an easy dinner. More misses than hits.

I haven't used it very often since starting this blog.

MommyProf said...

I love the slow cooker and I wish I used it more. I have a small family and a smaller slow cooker (maybe 3 qt? It was a wedding present, so I don't remember), so there's not as much that I can make.

That pot roast looks yummy, though.

Heather said...

I am trying to use my slow cooker more. It was another one of those HAVE to haves and I feel I need to justify the storage space for it. If something isn't used in our house I put it in the basement where it never gets used. My library book is helping me come up with some different ways to use it.

ConnectKitchen said...

I dont use mine that much. Here is a helpful hint. You can brown the roast in Olive oil before placing it in the crockpot. It helps with color and flavor.

ConnectKitchen said...

whoops, that was me( Randi). I forgot to sign out of our community kitchen blog.

Anonymous said...

I love my crockpots and use them weekly to make beef stew, fruit cobbler, drinks like iced tea and apple cider, shredded bbq beef for sandwiches, chicken noodles, meatball appetizers, artichoke dip, pot roast, etc. and I just bought an attachment to make bread in it - but haven't tried yet.

My mom and grandma always used a crockpot so I grew up learning how to use it for lots of things so maybe that's why I use mine more than the others who posted? Plus I've never heard anyone call a crockpot a slow cooker. Everyone I know calls them crockpots. Maybe that's regional?

Anonymous said...

I have one and don't really use it that often.With soccer starting,I'm going to have to drag it out.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have one and like to use it, if I can ever remember to plan ahead of time. But, that doesn't happen very often. That, to me, is the main problem with them - you HAVE to plan ahead.

Anonymous said...

I just made a batch of apple butter in my crockpot,and it was creamy smooth.The best apple butter I've ever tasted.
Not to mention that my entire house smelled wonderful for days.My favorite thing is to put a beef roast and a pkg of onion soup mix in and cook on low for 10 hours.Slice the beef onto a crusty bun,top with carmelized onions and use the liquid as a dipping sauce for French dipped sandwiches.
I also like to put a slice of swiss cheese on the bun.Yummy!

Anonymous said...

I don't have one, probably because we don't have kids (when you NEED one!!! Lol) and also my mom never used one (not sure why not with four kids!) , so I didn't ever feel like something was missing. My mom friends love theirs though! I love the chili cheese dip my friend makes in hers!!