I am a cook who uses the slow cooker very selectively – some recipes just come out too bland, colourless, mushy and generally lacking “something”. This pot roast is none of those things. The meat is tender and the gravy rich with flavour. It goes together quite quickly especially if you use the oven method to brown the roast. I have found it not really necessary to brown the roast – it comes out just fine!
To brown or not to brown meat when using the slow cooker?!?!?!? More browning should mean more flavour. I’m not sure it makes that much difference in the flavour. One of my criteria for a slow cooker recipe is the ease and speed of putting the recipe together. If browning puts you off the recipe – don’t do it. Simply carry on. I came up with a quick oven method for sealing and browning the roast which I’m quite happy with.
Any pot roasted meat will dry out quickly if left without any gravy or other liquid on it so try to avoid cutting the roast until ready to serve or place back in the gravy. For any leftovers – place meat back in the gravy to store.
Since my daughter is celiac, many of my recipes are gluten-free or at least easily adapted to gluten-free. One of my discoveries since I started cooking gluten-free was potato flour as a thickener. Potato flour is NOT potato starch – they are quite different. Unfortunately, to add to the confusion, the potato flour sold in a box in our grocery stores is really potato starch – very white and very fine. Potato flour is creamy in colour and coarser than the starch. It mixes easily with liquids – simply sprinkle the potato flour over whatever you wish to thicken – and most people will have no idea that you did not use regular flour. I have come to prefer potato flour for thickening gravies – simmer any liquid you have added it to to cook the raw potato taste out. You will need to go to a store which sells gluten-free products to find potato flour – around here that includes health food stores, produce stands and some delis. While you are there, look at the potato flour versus potato starch and you can see the difference. Potato starch will thicken liquids but is “gummier”, ie. not as nice a consistency. It is used more in gluten-free baking.
Savoury Beef Pot Roast – Slow Cooker
1 beef cross rib or any other less tender roast– whatever size fits your slow cooker
salt and pepper or Montreal steak spice
½ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (I use a garlic press)
1 small (2l3 ml.) tomato sauce (a bit less than 1 cup)
1 cup beef broth
½ tsp. salt
2 bay leaves
pinch of thyme or marjoram or fresh springs of thyme
At end of cooking:
1 cup beef broth
3 – 4 tbsp. potato flour – great for gluten-free gravy
(or 3 – 4 tbsp. all purpose flour shaken in a jar with water or beef broth)
You can skip ahead to step 3 if you are in a hurry. If you want to and have a few extra minutes:
1. Brown the roast on all sides in a little oil in a frying pan OR line a roasting pan with foil, season roast with salt and pepper or Montreal steak spice and place in 500 F oven for about 15 minutes. This is a fast and easy way to brown and seal the roast.
2. I prefer to sauté the onions in a little oil until translucent – makes the onion flavor less sharp, more mellow. Stir in garlic for last minute or two.
3. Place roast in 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Mix onions, garlic, tomato sauce, beef broth, and salt and pour over roast. Drop in bay leaves and thyme or marjoram. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 – 10 hours depending on size of roast.
4. Remove roast and cover with foil to keep warm. It should stand for at least 20 – 30 minutes to make it easier to cut. Some roasts will be so tender that all you can do is cut chunks!!
5. Heat beef broth (microwave) and add to gravy in slow cooker. Slowly whisk in potato flour. Cook on HIGH until thickened and bubbly.
If not serving right away, place roast slices or chunks back into the gravy and keep warm.