Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sort of Mom’s Sunday Pot Roast

Pot Roast

“Stringy Meat” - what a non-appetizing sounding dish! But that’s the name by which we knew Pot Roast at our house and it did mean delicious to us. But then we grew up eating things like “Trees” (Broccoli); “Pop Corn Soup” (Corn Chowder); and “Monkey” (Welsh Rarebit).
“Monkey”?... Really?

My mom liked her meat with a good char on it, so her steaks always went on the grill only when the others were done to purposely let the grill flare up and carbonize the outside. So when she made her Sunday Pot Roast, she would put the fully cooked roast under the boiler to “finish” while she made her gravy. This method didn’t always make for the juiciest of roasts, but then that’s what mom’s gravy was for.

We know that searing, by any method before cooking, serves to keep most of the juices in the meat as it cooks and begins to melt the fat. But the usual searing techniques don’t produce much of a crust. So, in homage to my mom, I’ve turned up the flame both figuratively and literally.

Chuck cuts of beef need to be cooked low and slow to fully break down their tough but tasty tissues. I’m using a slow cooker for my low and slow cooking method to produce a mouthwatering, tender Pot Roast.

I promise to tell you all about “Monkey” sometime soon.

Sort of Mom’s Sunday Pot Roast
Serves: 4 to 6     Preparation Time: 20 Minutes     Cooking Time: 8 Hours, unattended


• 3½ to 4 Pound Beef Chuck Roast
• 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
• ½ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• 1 Container Concentrated Beef Stock (See Tips and Trending)
• 1 Cup Low Sodium Beef Stock
• 1 Small Sweet Onion, sliced
• 3 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour

Preparation Steps

Step 1. Pat the Roast dry and season one side with half of the Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper. Place the Roast into a dry cast iron skillet, seasoned side down, and season the other side.

Step 2. Broil the Roast in the skillet 2” from the heat source for 5 to 6 minutes until the meat begins to char. Turn the Roast over and broil for another 5 or 6 minutes.

Step 3. Transfer the Roast from the skillet to a slow cooker set to Low. Reserve the accumulated fats and juices in the skillet. Spread the Concentrated Beef Stock over the top of the Roast; the heat from the meat will melt the Concentrate. Pour the Low Sodium Beef Stock over the Roast until the level of liquid comes just over halfway up the meat. Depending on the size of the Roast and the slow cooker, you may find that you use more or less Low Sodium Beef Stock to reach the desired depth of liquid in the cooker.

Step 4. Set the skillet with the reserved fat and juice over medium heat. Add the Onion slices and cook for 2 minutes, carefully turn the slices over and cook for another minute. Arrange the slices on top of the Roast and pour the remaining juices from the skillet over the Onions. Cover and cook for 8 hours without disturbing the slow cooker lid. After 8 hours, test the Roast for tenderness. The meat will be thoroughly cooked, but may require additional time to reach your desired tenderness. If further cooking is needed, replace the slow cooker lid and cook for another one to two hours. When the Roast is done to your liking, remove the meat to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Step 5. Use a fat separator to separate the meat juices from the fat, reserving 3 tablespoons of the fat and putting it into a medium sauté pan over medium heat. If you do not get 3 tablespoons of fat add enough Unsalted Butter to supplement it. When the fat(s) are heated, add 3 tablespoons of All-Purpose Flour and stir to make a roux. When the roux is beginning to color, gradually whisk in 2 cups of the separated juices and cook until bubbling. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Taste the gravy and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve with Sautéed Asparagus or another simple green vegetable and Fluffy Lumpy Mashed Potatoes.

Tips and Trending

~ Occasionally I turn to a prepared ingredient instead of creating my own. One of these ingredients, Concentrated Stock, has come into wider availability in recent years. If you’re unfamiliar with these, they are a super-reduced, gelatinized meat or poultry stock that easily melts into hot dishes. I prefer to use Knorr® brand for the flavor and measurement, each container is just over 1 ounce.

~ This is not a “one pot meal” pot roast. This recipe is all about the meat but you can convert it to the typical Yankee style by adding a couple of quartered onions, a few roughly chopped carrots or parsnips along with some quartered Yukon Gold potatoes.

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