It’s cold. Have I mentioned this lately? And it’s cloudy and damp and … I so live in the wrong climate. Unfortunately, I live here, which means that I need to cook with the seasons, and right now… it’s comfort food season. I’m doing a lot of soups and stews and other hearty dishes. The best ones come in the crock pot where I can put everything in first thing in the morning and come home to a comforting and warm meal.
This week? We did pot roast. It’s one of my favorites because I can quite easily grab what I have on hand and toss it in without measuring too much. If I’m a little short on something, that’s fine. If I want some more of another flavor, that works, too. So the measurements here? Totally an estimate. Do what works for you.
2-3 lb roast
2 ribs of celery
5-6 medium red potatoes
1/2 c chicken or beef stock
2 T parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
2 T oil
Heat up a heavy pan. I use my cast iron skillet because I know it will heat evenly and retain its heat. Once the pan is hot – medium high heat – add the oil. You want to wait until this point to add the oil. When the metal gets hot, it opens its pores, so the oil goes into them and helps to make essentially a nonstick surface. Trust me.
Salt and pepper all sides of the roast, then add it to the pan. You want to sear it on each side. Don’t move it until it has a nice crust on it or it will stick to the pan. And yes, I do actually sear all six sides.
While the roast is searing, cut up your veggies (except your potatoes, which are a starch and not a veggie – those come later!). You want everything to be bite size – nothing so big that you have to cut it once it’s cooked and nothing so small that it won’t stay on your fork with the rest of your meal. I’ll also wash my organic carrots really well and not peel those – but that’s me. I slice my onions and leave them that big. They are then easy to fish out for the wee one who won’t eat them but manageable for me to put on my fork. I don’t want it diced. Layer all your veggies into the bottom of your crock post.
Once your pot roast is seared, add it to the crock pot atop the veggies. Sprinkle the parsley atop this mixture, and add the stock for a cooking liquid. You truly need just a little bit because the meat and veggies will release a lot of juices.
Cook on low for 2-3 hours. At that point, cut up your red potatoes. I leave the skin on my red potatoes because I like it – and there’s lots of good vitamins and minerals there. Add those around the meat at this point. If you add them earlier, I find they get too cooked and mushy for my taste, so I hold off on adding them until this point. If you’ll be gone all day, go ahead and add them at the beginning.
Cook on low for another 2-3 hours or longer. When it’s ready, the meat will literally fall apart as you pick it up with a fork. That’s perfection in my eyes. You can also pull out the juice after you remove your veggies and meat and potatoes and make a thicker gravy, but my family doesn’t like that. To do this, put the juices into a small pan and heat it until it’s boiling. Slowly add gravy flour, a tablespoon at a time (it will vary depending on how much juice you have, but usually it’s about a quarter cup for me) and reduce it for about five minutes. Check to see if it needs and more salt and pepper, then serve it atop your pot roast. Or be like us and skip this step and just serve it as is with the juice as more of a soup/stew kind of thing.