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Monday, September 13, 2010

Company's Coming Slow Cooker Pot Roast

I recently purchased a slow cooker after seeing tons of healthy slow cooker meals that I knew we’d enjoy. Plus, I like cooking once and eating twice-leftovers!

When the slow cooker showed up, my hubby surprised me by asking if I could do pot roast in it. He lived in California for a long time, but I guess you can’t take the mid-west out of him completely. Pot roast is a meal I haven’t cooked in a long time!  Our good friends were coming over with the wife’s mom for dinner, and tri-tip roasts were on sale so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to do pot roast and mashed potatoes.

I didn’t have a recipe, and looking on line was overwhelming with the number of variations so I just gave it my best shot. Probably against the true spirit of slow cooker cooking (one pot), I browned the meat before adding it to the crock, but I thought the browning would enhance the flavor and hoped the little bit of flour would help build a nice gravy.

A lot of recipes called for cream of mushroom soup and onion soup mix but I remember I used to use golden mushroom soup so I went with that. Red wine makes fabulous gravy, so of course I included some of that. Garlic? Yep always adds a wonderful layer of flavor. Balsamic vinegar? Ditto. And, the only herb growing in my soon to be redone garden is rosemary, so several sprigs worth of that went in. And, finally some beef broth (low sodium), onions, carrots, mushrooms, salt and pepper-can’t get more traditional than that!

Company’s Coming Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Makes approximately 12-14 servings- For 4 oz meat, 1/2 cup each mushrooms and carrots, 1/4 cup onion, 2 TBSP gravy approximately 400 calories, 18 grams carbs, 25 grams fat, and 26 grams protein

4 pounds of tri-tip roast, trimmed of most of fat
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt (plus more if needed for final seasoning)
2 tsp ground black pepper; divided
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ cup EVOO
2 large onions, quartered
1 pound of mushrooms, rough chopped (I looked for baby bellas but could only find button)
5 (or more!) cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat blade of a knife
2 pounds carrots, rough chopped (bite sized)
1 10 ¾ oz can of golden mushroom soup
15 oz beef broth (I used low sodium)
15 oz good red wine (I used a nice Napa Cabernet Sauvignon)
¼ cup good balsamic vinegar
2 large sprigs of rosemary
2 TBSP butter
6 quart slow cooker with low and high settings

Take the meat out of the fridge and let the chill come off for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on the temperature of your kitchen). Trim most of the visible fat off, on the tri-tips there was hardly any. Mix the whole wheat flour, salt, 1 tsp of the pepper, and garlic powder together and rub over all sides of meat.

Seasoned flour for rub
Heat the EVOO in a large Dutch oven until shimmering and just starting to smoke. Brown the meat for 3 minutes per side to develop a nice crisp brown surface. Don’t overcrowd the pan-I browned each piece on its own.
Place the quarters of onions in the slow cooker and place the meat on top. Add soup, broth, wine, balsamic, remaining pepper, garlic, and rosemary leaves (strip leaves off stems).

This cooked on high for 2 hours, and then low for 7 ½ more hours. I added the carrots and mushrooms 3 hours before completion but I'm sure it would be just as good if you put them in at the beginning and left it to its own devices all day (I might cut the veggies a bit bigger so they don't get too soft).
To serve, remove the meat and shred it with two forks. It was so tender it just fell apart beautifully. If you have a platter big enough, heap the veggies around the meat. I served them in a separate container, just used a few for garnish on the meat.
Ladle the gravy into a serving container and stir in 2 TBSP butter-don’t skip this-the gravy was good before the butter but divine after I added it! Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed.
The meat turned out nice and juicy and the gravy was pretty darn good, even if I say so myself. I think the browning helped the flavor and the little bit of flour probably helped the gravy’s consistency-not too thick but definitely not watery. There was very little fat floating around so I didn’t even bother trying to skim it. The veggies were perfect, nice soft onions, and carrots and mushrooms that still had a bit of crunch.

Next time I think I will add more garlic-maybe stuffed into slits in the meat, and perhaps cut down the broth-had lots of gravy and even with leftovers, maybe too much.

I served this delicious “big eats” pot roast and veggies with mashed potatoes for everyone else and, trying to stay close to South Beach, roasted sweet potatoes for me.

Enjoy and please share your tips for a great slow cooker pot roast!

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