By LINDA GIUCA, Special To The Courant
The Hartford Courant
October 24, 2013
Maybe it's the beginning of the chill in the air when the sun goes down, or the leaves displaying their fall colors. Whatever the reason, we had a craving for pot roast and decided it was time to dust off the slow cooker.
We found a bottom round roast on sale at the supermarket, although this cut is interchangeable with chuck, top round or brisket. These cuts of meat tend to be tough, which makes them unsuitable for roasting, but long, slow braising in liquid – the slow cookers forte – tenderizes the beef.
The cooking juices can be spooned over the meat and vegetables before serving or thickened with a cornstarch slurry, if you prefer a thicker gravy. Taste the gravy for salt and pepper. The salt in the beef stock and in the Worcestershire sauce should give enough salty flavor to the gravy.
SLOW COOKER POT ROAST
>>1 2- to 3-pound chuck roast
>>Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
>>2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
>>1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
>>3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
>>3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
>>6 small red potatoes
>>4 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
>>8 ounces sliced mushrooms
>>1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
>>1 bay leaf
>>1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
>>1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
>>2 cloves garlic
>>2 cups beef stock
>>1 tablespoon water mixed with 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
Season the roast with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chuck roast on all sides in the oil. Transfer the roast to a slower cooker. Add the vegetables except mushrooms to the pan and brown, stirring frequently, until onion begins to soften. Transfer the vegetables to the slower cooker. Add the mushrooms and remaining ingredients except the slurry. Cook for 4 to 5 hours on high or 6 to 7 hours on low. Meat should be fork tender. Remove meat from the slow cooker and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing across the grain. Arrange the sliced meat on a platter with the vegetables. For a thicker gravy, mix the cornstarch slurry into the hot cooking liquids and stir until well mixed and thickened. Spoon the cooking liquids over the meat. Serves 4.
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