Scarlett's Pot Roast Recipe

04 October 2010

Oh, my goodness, what a week, what a weekend! “Busy” doesn’t even begin to describe it; my life, like most of yours, falls into periods where I keep taking on more and more, and suddenly I have no free time and can barely catch my breath! Sound familiar? I thought it might.

 Saturday, I attended a Party in Pink for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Mentally, I thought it was just a few hours of time on a Saturday. What a foolish woman I am, I should have known that it would wipe me out for the entire weekend. I am not as young as I once was, and I am CERTAINLY not as in as good of shape as I was as a 21-year old. One event can wipe me out for a week, I know this.

 (P.S. If you’re a female, this is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Check yourself, schedule your mammograms regularly, and let’s Save Second Base!)

 Saturday night, it occurred to me that I had a blog due and it was in that moment that I realized that my fridge was empty, I hadn’t gone grocery shopping in days, and I certainly hadn’t planned anything for dinner beyond my continual looking at recipes over the course of the week. I was scrambling for answers when my dear  roommate remembered that we’d vacuum-sealed and stashed a pot roast in our freezer while back. Perfect! Into the fridge to thaw it went, and I pulled open my trusty red laptop to find something delicious to do with it.

 Of all the things I stole from my parent’s kitchen when I moved out, my crock pot is my favorite. I think that anyone whose life tends towards the chaotic needs to own at least one (small one for everyday, big one for large quantities would be ideal). Having the freedom to add a bunch of ingredients to a slow cooker in the morning, leave the house for your day while letting it bubble and simmer slowly, and opening your door to a deliciously aromatic, healthy, hot meal is amazing. I decided to look specifically for slow cooker recipes this
week because it’s such an awesome kitchen too, so maybe it was just fated that I arrived at Saturday with nothing in my kitchen but one REALLY frozen pot roast.

 Now, while pot roast is a staple in most households from what I’ve been told, it was rarely served in my  house. My mom worked nights, my dad worked swing, so most of my time in the kitchen growing up was
spent trying to make a simple meal for one. We also didn’t have much money, so I think a lot of meat was beyond our budget. Honestly, looking back on it, I can’t remember a single meal of pot roast served in my house. Why I wound up buying a pot roast in the first place, I’ll never know. But, regardless, the meal was going to be pot roast, and I was going to learn something new in the process.

 Boy, did I ever. Okay, first lesson? Meat takes lot longer to thaw when your freezer hovers a few degrees above Antarctic weather. Second lesson? It is ALWAYS smart to check to see if your meat is properly
thawed BEFORE starting to cook, NOT when you have all of the veggies sliced, diced, seasoned, and waiting in the crock pot. Third lesson? When in a pinch, letting meat rest in cool water in the bathtub is an
effective method of thawing it the rest of the way. (Oh, calm down. It was vacuum-sealed in an airtight package thanks to my FoodSaver. It was hygienic. And necessary.)

From recipe hunting online, it seemed that most people consider potroast to be my favorite kind of recipe – the “let’s throw everything that we like in a pot and see what happens” kind. I decided to keep it basic;  potatoes, carrots, onions….but I found all kinds of variations out there. I even found a BEER basted  one…seriously, tell me a guy didn’t make that one!

I layered the bottom of my crockpot with bacon. You can use the store brought brand, but little tip; check with your grocer’s butcher counter. I got six beautifully cut, thick, hickory smoked slices of bacon for about half the cost (and sodium!) of buying it in a package. I layered in potatoes and carrots, seasoned it with salt, pepper and thyme, added the (finally thawed!) pot roast, covered it with onions and mushrooms, and added in beef broth.

I think my favorite part of this whole process was making the gravy, because it makes some DARN good gravy! I don’t think it would have been the same without it. I’ll be honest, I’ve never made gravy myself
before. My gravy typically comes from a pouch or a can, but now that I know how GOOD it can be just by using beef broth and the natural juices of the meat, I will definitely be taking the 5 minutes to make it on my own!

The downside of this whole process was that sadly, I didn’t allow enough time for it to cook up. The meat got overdone (I had less than I thought I did), but the veggies were all not done at all. So, back into the pot the veggies went. Then I dropped the entire potroast on the counter as I struggled to wrap it in foil to keep it warm and the juices in. Then I boiled over the gravy, creating a fantastic mess on the stove…it was an odd night in the kitchen for me.

Truth be told, I only had time for a few bites since the whole process wasn’t done until my bedtime, but it was good, and cost wise, it was less than $10.00 and could easily feed a family and still have leftovers. Even with the overdone pot roast, the meal was worth it for the gravy and the veggies. Maybe I’ll just try THAT next time, instead!

Scarlett’s Pot Roast
•       6 slices bacon, halved crosswise
•       2 pounds red skinned or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces
•       4 to 6 carrots, peeled, cut in 2-inch lengths, halved lengthwise
•       Salt and pepper
•       1 teaspoon dried leaf thyme, divided
•       1 boneless beef chuck roast, about 3 pounds
•       1 bag, about 16 ounces, frozen small white onions
•       8 ounces mushrooms, scrubbed and left whole, halved if large
•       1 1/2 cups beef broth
•       3 tablespoons tomato paste
•       2 tablespoons flour
•       2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Lay the bacon over the bottom of the crockpot, crisscrossing it to get a nice layer. Arrange potatoes and carrots over the bacon, mixing them with salt, pepper, and half of the thyme to get them evenly coated.

Rest the pot roast over the vegetables, then add onions and mushrooms over and around the roast. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and the remaining thyme.

Mix the beef broth and tomato paste, then pour over the pot roast.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. This is important. Allow yourself TIME. Turning up the heat just overcooks the meat, and really, who wants that?

Remove the pot roast and set it in a baking dish or serving platter. Remove vegetables from the crock pot and arrange around the pot roast.

Cover with foil and keep warm.

My favorite part, the gravy!

Separate fat and broth using a fat separator, or skim fat off the top of the broth; discard fat. Put the broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a cup of small bowl, whisk flour with water until smooth. Whisk the flour mixture into the broth until thickened and bubbly. Serve gravy with the meat and vegetables.

Be sure to come back next week for another kitchen adventure with Scarlett. Until then, stop by Confessions of a Shieldmaiden and say hello.

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