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Slow-cooker pot roast

September 15, 2014

Pot roast

Pot roast

I grew up with pot roast always made in a slow cooker with onions, potatoes, and carrots.  This wasn’t just how my mom made it; everyone I knew made it this way.  In fact, I didn’t know there was any other way to cook pot roast until just a few years ago.  So this is still the way I prefer to make it, because it reminds me of chilly autumn Sundays: pot roast simmering away in my mom’s little blue & white Crock-Pot, everybody (except me) gathered in the living room watching the Chiefs lose, emerging from my room (where I’d be listening to the Top 40 countdown on the radio, or maybe reading) to the overwhelming scent of delicious pot roast beckoning me to join my family.

I still make my pot roast in a slow cooker, with a giant slab of beef and big chunks of potatoes, carrots, and onions.  But I’ve also taken inspiration from Flavio’s culture and their traditional brasato, flavoring the beef with red wine and cloves.  And then there’s my secret ingredient — star anise — which adds a depth and complexity to the flavor of the pot roast.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

serves 4

one 2-lb. bottom round beef roast
salt & pepper
dried rosemary
dry red wine
1 small yellow onion, or 2 shallots, peeled and cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
3-4 whole cloves
2 star anise pods, broken into large pieces
2 bay leaves
3-4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled & cut into large chunks
3 medium carrots, peeled & cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

Place beef in slow cooker, fatty side up.  Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and dried rosemary.  Pour water around the roast (but not on top, which will wash away the seasoning), about 1-2 cups, just enough to come halfway up the sides of the roast.  Drizzle in a good amount of red wine, about 2-4 tablespoons.  Cover with lid, and set to the lowest temperature setting possible.

Four to five hours later, add onion or shallot wedges, smashed garlic cloves, whole black peppercorns, cloves, star anise pieces, and bay leaves.

Three to four hours later — or about an hour before you plan to serve — add the potatoes, carrots, fresh rosemary & thyme sprigs, another sprinkling of salt, and another drizzle of red wine.  Cover and continue to cook until vegetables are tender.  Serve with juices drizzled over pot roast.

Notes:  I developed this recipe when I had a job that allowed me to come home for lunch in the middle of the day, which is when I would add the onion, garlic, and whole spices.  If you don’t have the option of adding this stuff in the middle of the day, these things can all be added with the roast in the first step.  I always added them on my lunch break because I never had enough time to chop up an onion or dig through my spice drawer early in the morning.  If you don’t have or can’t find star anise pods, omit them and add wedges of fresh fennel with the potatoes & carrots.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2014 12:15 pm

    I will have to try your recipe. I love pot roast and always make it in the slow cooker too (except I use the seasoning packet from the grocery store- don’t tell anyone). I have been wanting to make it a little more homemade. I always omit the potatoes and make mashed potatoes and throw the beef and veggies on top. I do this now with beef stew too. I just love mashed potatoes with gravy.

    • whitney marie permalink*
      September 16, 2014 2:39 pm

      I thought about skipping the potatoes and making mashed potatoes instead last night (usually I make polenta to go with our roast, but we were out), but I was too lazy haha 🙂 I’ve never tried the seasoning packet, but I’ve gotta be honest, I’ve thought about it! It just sounds like it would taste so good.

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