|Simple beef pot roast with gravy made from the braising liquid|
For my pot roast, I'm starting with a package of small beef chuck steaks- each is just about a single portion. For my braising liquid I'll start with the leftover tomato sauce (pizza sauce actually) I've been saving in the freezer. We'll add some potatoes, garlic, onion, and celery, season it, and let the slow cooker do it's thing for at least four hours. The remaining braising liquid will then become a base for a simple gravy.
Fist we'll start by cutting up about 3 or 4 potatoes into bite-sized chunks. I prefer to leave the skin on so they need a quick rinse first. The potatoes will absorb the flavors of our liquid and out beef, and add a little starch to our liquid which will make it a little easier to bring our gravy together later.
|Potato chopped into bite sized chunks|
|Sliced onions are one of the "aromatic" vegetables we'll use|
|Celery is an essential aromatic for pot roasts and most soups|
Garlic is also a great aromatic to add, it goes well with beef, and well, I just like it a lot. I'll use about 3-4 cloves of garlic chopped fairly small.
|Garlic is just good in my book, nothing a breath mint can't fix.|
|A little salt, black pepper, and thyme is all you need to round out the dish|
|Leftover frozen tomato sauce is an excellent base for a braising liquid|
The key to a great tasting pot roast is to give the beef a nice dark-brown hard sear before you put it into the pot. If you're using a standard pot over a low flame rather than a slow-cooker, you should ignore my instructions to load up the veggies first and you should brown the meat right in the pot, and leave all the nice brown stuff in there too- unfortunately, you can't do that with a slow-cooker, but since I have other chores to work on that mean I can't monitor and open flame all day, I'll settle for searing the meat on the flat-top.
Get your pan or flat-top hot, add a little oil or cooking spray. You'll want to season the meat on both sides with a little salt and pepper (the salt will bring moisture to the surface and help for the crust we're looking for). You're going for a dark brown crust on both sides of the meat, and don't worry about cooking the beef all the way through- it has a long hot bath coming that will finish the job. Try not to move or fuss with the meat- turn it once. If your pan/grill is nice and hot, it should do the job in a couple of minutes per side.
|A hard sear is the key to flavor for slow-cooked beef|
|Everything is in the pot and ready to go|
|Let out beef pot roast take at least a four-hour bath in the slow-cooker|
Gravy is actually a simple thing to make- we'll apply the same process I showed in my simple chicken gravy article. We'll start with a roux of olive oil and flour. You'll need another pan or small pot- add in about two tablespoons each of olive oil and flour over medium heat. Whisk the oil and flour together until it makes a paste, and cook it until it reaches a nice golden brown color. Don't let the roux sit for more than a few seconds without whisking, or you risk burning it.
|Gravy starts with a simple roux of olive oil and flour|
|Leftover braising liquid makes a rich, flavorful gravy|
|Simple comforting pot-roast makes a great family meal|