Friday, May 13, 2011

Crock Pot Beef Roast with Potatoes, Onions & Tomatoes

I know what you're probably thinking right now - beef roasts don't exactly fit with the premise of this blog, especially the "healthy" bit. But this blog is also about real life, and in real life sometimes you have a crap day at work and decide to make a juicy beef roast for dinner because a salad just wouldn't cut it. Also sometimes your job is great and you just want some beef, and for all of your sakes I hope that this is the case. Not to mention the numerous benefits of a crock pot for anyone with a "real life" schedule.

You'll just have to trust me when I say that I made much healthier food in between the butter-loaded mushroom balls with gravy, and the beef roast... also with gravy. Because I did.

... But I digress.

One of the most wonderful things about crock pots, and slow cookers in general, is that you can slow-cook a very inexpensive cut of meat and turn it into a tender, juicy, buttery meal. For this roast I used a just-under-two-pound center-cut chuck steak.

seasoned or kosher salt
garlic powder
thyme or paprika
2ish lb center-cut chuck steak
1 onion, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 can whole or stewed tomatoes (I used about 14 oz of whole tomatoes, and I think more would be even better)
1 packet onion soup mix
about 1 tablespoon cornstarch, or white flour

1. In your crock pot, toss in 2 large-chopped potatoes, a chopped onion, the garlic, and some whole or stewed tomatoes with all their juices. Combine the soup mix with about a cup of water, and pour it in.

2. Rub the meat with seasoned salt, a little garlic powder, and thyme or paprika. (I used thyme). In a pan, brown the meat on both sides, then plop it on top of the veggies and set the crock to "low". This is important: DON'T wash the pan. You'll want those crusty bits later.

3. Cook for about 5-8 hours on low, depending on your machine. 

My 5 quart machine was a bit large for this, but there was no way it would have fit in the 2 quarter. Just keep in mind that if your crock is less than 2/3 full, you should check on it occasionally to be sure nothing is getting overdone. After about 6 hours the roast was tender and juicy, and the potatoes were not over-mushy.

4. Gravy: When cooking is complete, switch crock to "warm," and ladle out about 1.5 cups of the brothy juices into the pan you used to brown the meat. Over medium-low heat, use a metal spatula to scrape the pan while the juices heat up. Then, whisking constantly, GRADUALLY add about a tablespoon of cornstarch, or some flour. Cook gravy until it has thickened and reduced slightly.

Yes, that is a paper towel pretending to be a napkin. Don't judge me.
Cut the meat, spoon out some veggies, pour a little gravy on top and enjoy! This should really be served with a good fresh bread to soak up the delicious juices. Of course, this made much more meat than we could eat, but I am looking forward to using in a steak & eggs creation for brunch tomorrow.

You can easily experiment with the veggies in this dish. Root vegetables will fare best, so think carrots, parsnips, turnips, etc. You could also use mushrooms, but I would add those about 30-40 mins before you want the dish to be done. They are otherwise apt to turn into mush.

Brady said that this tasted like something his Grandma would make, and though I've never had the pleasure of experiencing her cooking, I took it as a big compliment!

Quote of the Day: "The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love, like being enlivened with champagne."  ~ Samuel Johnson

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