Wednesday, December 5, 2012

one hundred and forty-two

I've had my slow cooker for a little over two weeks now, which has been just enough time to fall in love with the contraption--and immediately fall into a state of confusion at the number of slow cooker recipes that rely on cream of whatever soup, or packaged soup mix, or soup seasoning, or... soup.  I was getting ready to give up and just throw everything into the slow cooker and call it a day, but then out of nowhere three words popped into my head: Home Ec 101 (shush, the 101 is hyphenated).  My go-to recipe index came to the rescue and I was able to get my roast on as planned.

Despite years of being one of Heather's squealing fangirls, I have a weakness: I can't follow a recipe.  Not even from a source I love and recommend.  No matter how good it may taste, no matter how classic it may be, there is not a single chef or cook that is safe from my modifications.  Most of the time, I would rely on my memory of the flavors of the finished product, rather than taking the 30 seconds to note any changes to the original recipe.

When others would ask for my recipes, I would direct them to the one that had inspired me, and would then sheepishly listen to the laments of my friends' failed attempts at "my" lime cookies, "my" roasted chicken, or "my" tortillas.  I would try to explain what changes I had made, but by that point it was always too late and the response would invariably be a short, "I'll just wait until next time you make it."

Now that I have a blog, however, I never fail to cook with a notebook at hand.  I taste, season, note, taste, season, note, until I'm almost too full for dinner (note that I said almost).  Why all of this strife?  Why not just post links to recipes and then say, "Add some rosemary and balsamic as needed?"  One word, my friends: content.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Gravy

Adapted from Home Ec 101's Wine Braised Pot Roast, this slow cooker recipe is super simple and super tasty--and the leftovers make awesome French dip sandwiches or stew!  Add some carrots and potatoes and you have a one pot meal!  The smell is almost unbearably delicious, so I recommend this meal for a busy weekend when you and your family won't be tempted to spend all day standing in the kitchen staring at your CrockPot.  (Not that I speak from experience.)

1 3-5 lb. roast (I used bottom round)
2 tsp kosher salt
fresh pepper, to taste
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 sweet onions, sliced
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
6 oz. red wine (I used a mini bottle of merlot)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1-10.5 oz. can beef consummé
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
4 large carrots, cut into medallions (optional)
2 lbs. red skinned potatoes, cubed (optional)
3 tbsp corn starch mixed with 3 tbsp cold water (for gravy)

Trim any silver skin or fat from the roast.  Season the roast with salt and pepper.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and olive oil.  Once the butter begins to bubble, place the roast into the pan, then wiggle it a bit to keep it from sticking.  Cook for three minutes, or until brown, then flip the roast.  Repeat the browning process on all sides, then transfer the roast into your slow cooker.

Reduce the pan's heat to medium, then add the onions and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes, or until the onions have caramelized.  Reduce the heat to medium-low if the onions are starting to brown too quickly.

Once the onions and garlic have caramelized, push them off to the side of the pan.  Add the wine to deglaze.  Remove the pan from the heat and dump the onions over the pot roast in the slow cooker.

Add the bay leaves, rosemary, beef consumme, Worcestershire, and vinegar to the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for about 10 hours.  For a one pot meal, add the carrots and potatoes after about 3 hours and continue to cook over low.

Remove the roast from the slow cooker and allow to rest, covered, on a cutting board.

If you added them, use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables.  Discard the bay leaves.

Turn the slow cooker onto high.  Whisk in the corn starch slurry and cook gravy until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Taste, then season as desired.

Serves 6-8.


  1. This looks SO good, coming from someone who isn't normally a red meat eater. Yum, yum, yum.

    I posted in my quinoa casserole recipe a way to make your own homemade "cream of anything" because I refuse to use it. Maybe that will help?

    1. Thanks so much! It doesn't even taste like red meat, it just tastes like all of the delicious braising liquids.

      And a second thanks for the solution to my "cream of..." soup problem. =)