Pot roast is my father’s favorite dish, for the leftovers. He has a great fondness for cold pot roast sandwiches. Now I could blithely tell you that my father is a Jew, and therefore this is a Jewish dish. But it does in fact appear in a number of Jewish cookbooks, and is usually considered an alternate Shabbat dinner option- for those who could afford to move up from chicken to eating cows.
But the real reason I chose to make this dish was for my friends Sandra and Rona. When I was visiting each of them in Wisconsin a few weeks ago I noticed that they both had shiny new crock pots (or slow cookers in the new marketing parlance) bubbling away on their counters. Crock pots seem to have made a comeback in the last few years. Spurred by the move towards comfort food, the recession pressure to shop further down the food chain and the fresh crop of good looking cookers in sexy colors and styles (including this monster).
Now, I cannot think of a more welcoming site when it has been hovering near zero Fahrenheit for the last fortnight, but like anything this dish benefits from some careful selection of meat and flavor components. First the meat, you want to pick out a large piece of chuck roast. Preferably a chuck-eye roast rather than a seven bone or top blade roast. Different markets will call these different names, so what you want to look for is a large well marbled piece of chuck with no bones and that is at least 2 inches thick. Also make sure it will fit in your cooker.
But my father is right about one thing, it is a great meal for leftovers. I just packed them into the fridge- tomorrow we’ll try those sandwiches.
Recipe after the break
Crock Pot Roast
1 large (3-4 lb depending on the size of your crock pot) chuck roast
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 celery stalk
3 cloves of fresh garlic
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp whole peppercorns
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup dried shitake mushrooms
1 can diced tomatoes
Dice onions, celery and garlic, set aside. Turn on your slow cooker, mine is a Rival and I set it to the high temp, six hour setting but check your manual for their suggestions for pot roast. Throw in the tomatoes, peppercorns, thyme and salt and allow to heat. In a large cast iron or other heavy skillet heat oil (any kind) until it almost smokes. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and then sear for 3 minutes each side (see photos). Remove meat to a plate and then allow pan to cool a bit and then brown the onions, celery and garlic. Once this is done add it to the slow cooker. Add the wine and mushrooms and stir everything around a bit. Now, place the meat in the cooker, scooting it down into the mix so the liquid comes up the sides, if needed add a bit of water so that the liquid reaches the top of the meat.
Let it cook, at around 4 hours check it. When done the roast should just fall apart under a fork. But the great thing is that you cannot overcook this dish. When the meat is done, switch the cooker to warm mode and then pull the meat out. Remove all of the sauce to a large sauce pan and heat to a low boil, return the meat to the cooker to stay hot. Reduce the sauce to about 2/3 of its original volume. Place meat on a large platter and then layer the the sauce over it for service.
Serve with some veggies and a good starch.