Saturday, March 6, 2010

Slow Cooker - Boneless Chuck Roast

My personal tastes run toward the ridiculously expensive. Take my relationship to beef. I wait until I have a few extra bucks and splurge on ribeyes, our favorite cut. This means I sometimes forget about the simple beef roast. But when I give it a chance, I'm always pleased.

I grew up on chuck roast, and I still enjoy that cut and flavor: satisfyingly beefy. It was on sale this week,  and I was excited. It's a great cut to cube for beef stew or Hungarian goulash, but I really wanted to make it in the slow-cooker.

While this is not their recipe, I've got to give a special shout-out to America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. I've learned a lot about cooking from reading the recipes and tips, as well as everything else published by the folks at Cook's Illustrated magazine. I love everything about it. If it were a wine, I'd describe it as 'nerdy but accessible'. It's ad-free, well-illustrated, and scientific. The recipes are so detailed, they're practically foolproof.

A few thoughts:
  • Set aside the extra 15-20 minutes and brown the meat and vegetables. It will add depth to your finished dish. If you don't want to take my word for it, believe my mom. She's not a foodie. She's a very practical woman who doesn't like to fuss over a dish, and I can remember her standing over the frying pan awkwardly turning big ol' roasts - because she could taste the difference. 
  • If you don't do wine, try a 'dry' juice like cranberry or pomegranate.
  • This recipe would suit a 6 quart slow cooker. Mine is 5 quarts, and there was about 3 cups of liquid that just wouldn't fit - but still plenty of delicious sauce. 
  • Served with baked potatoes and salad. We're planning on leftovers with noodles.
  • My estimated cost per serving is $2 for the main dish, salad, and potatoes (had a nice coupon for the meat)
Slow Cooker Boneless Chuck Roast and Sauce
Makes 8+ servings

5-6 lbs. chuck roast (I used two smaller roasts for a total of 5 lbs.)

1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 dashes cayenne
2 dashes paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried ground thyme

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
6 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
8 oz. sliced mini-bella mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped celery (fresh or frozen)
1 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 beef bouillon cube
2 bay leaves

In a small bowl, mix kosher salt, cayenne, paprika, pepper and thyme. 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Pat the top of the roast dry with a paper towel and  sprinkle with a teaspoon of the salt mixture. When oil is hot, place roast seasoned side down in pan. Sprinkle an additional teaspoon salt mix on top. Brown roast on both sides, 5-10 minutes, and place into slow cooker. If working with two smaller roasts, brown each one individually.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onions and cook about 4 minutes. Add carrots and cook about 4 more minutes. Add mushrooms and cook an additional 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables begin to brown. Add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen and browned bits. Add the Worchestershire sauce, tomato paste, chicken stock and bouillon cube and bring to boil. Add bay leaves.

Pour liquid and vegetables into the slow cooker over the browned roasts. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high 6-7 hours.

When meat is fork tender, remove from liquid and place in serving dish (a large casserole would work well here). Remove as much fat from the liquid as you can (I used a gravy separator) and purée the vegetables in batches. Transfer to a gravy boat if you're feeling fancy, or just put in a bowl with a ladle. Serve.


  1. This was so great. I was never a huge pot roast fan but this was especially tasty. I was wondering if you have any suggestions for the extra gravy/pureed vegetables? Seems like it would make a nice base for a soup?

  2. I found your recipe via Google and made it today for our family -- absolutely wonderful! Perfect for an autumn evening. Much like the previous poster, I am not a huge pot roast fan but this was really really good, my usually picky daughter was gobbling this as soon as it came out of the slow cooker.

    I definitely think you could use that extra gravy/pureed veggies as a soup base. I commented to my husband as I was blending that it looked like a veggie soup in the beginning.

  3. Thanks so much. The soup base is a great idea!