Slow Cooker Pot Roast

As the weather begins to turn and the days get shorter, I find myself craving warm, hearty meals. Pot roast is one of my Grandma’s specialties, and making it at home always reminds me of Sunday dinners at her house. She makes a hearty gravy and butter-filled mashed potatoes to go along with it, so it took me a while to find a recipe that was almost as delicious and comforting as hers without the added dairy and gluten.

I finally found a winner by adapting Cooking Light’s pot roast recipe; reducing the number of servings and turning it into the perfect slow cooker recipe.  This pot roast is my go-to cure the Sunday Scaries, and leaves us with at least one or two more meal’s worth of leftovers for weeknights. When I am on the Whole 30 or am making a conscious effort to avoid alcohol, I simply omit the wine and replace it with more beef broth.

pot roast 1.jpeg
Instead of cooking the potatoes in the crock pot, I made dairy-free mashed potatoes to mimic Grandma’s dinner

Searing the roast before adding it to the crock pot may sound like an annoying, unnecessary step, but let me tell you- it makes a huge difference. It seals in the juice and flavor, keeping the roast tender and moist while it’s in the slow cooker. Please don’t skip this step- you will not get the same great results.

After making this a few times, I learned to add the carrots and potatoes towards the end of the cooking process so they aren’t  complete mush when the roast is ready. I like my veggies al-dente, so this fix works for me. If you’d like very soft carrots and potatoes, feel free to throw those in the crock pot at the beginning of the cooking process.

pot roast 2.jpg

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Makes about 6 servings

2 1/2 – 3 lb boneless chuck roast

1 t sea salt

1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

2 T ghee or olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

3/4 C red wine

2 C organic beef broth

1 bay leaf

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 t dried thyme, or 3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 t dried rosemary, or 2 t fresh rosemary, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into eighths

4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes cut into eighths

Method:

Heat dutch oven or large frying pan. Once pan is hot, add ghee or olive oil. Salt and pepper all sides of chuck roast. Add meat to pan and sear every exposed side of meat for about 1-2 minutes, until brown.

Add seared chuck roast to slow cooker, making sure to include all juice and scrapings from pan. Add onion, wine, beef broth, bay leaf, garlic, and thyme. Set slow cooker on low for 8 hours.

Tip** If you’ll be home while the roast is cooking, baste roast with liquid every hour or so. If you’re setting it and going to work, just make sure pot roast is mostly covered with liquid.

When there is about 1 1/2 hours of cooking left, add peeled carrots and potatoes and a little more salt and pepper to slow cooker. You’ll know beef is done when it’s tender enough to fall apart.

Cut roast into large chunks, and serve with potatoes, carrots, and a ladle of broth mixture. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Applesauce

Rewind to 20 years ago in our tiny kitchen on Parkside, where my mom would be cooking apples on the stove, and my sister Liz and I would take turns turning the mill to strain the applesauce. We loved the fun, messy, time-intensive process, but nothing topped eating the fresh applesauce hot out of the pan. Fast-forward 20 years to my current tiny kitchen, where I’m up to my ears with apples from our trip to the orchard. I decided it was time to make applesauce.

Applesauce1.jpg

Since I don’t own a food mill, I decided to give slow-cooking applesauce a try.  Not only did it make my tiny kitchen smell aaaaamazing, it turned out so delicious that I am convinced I’ll never want to buy applesauce from the store again! It was so simple, and the apples we picked were so juicy and sweet that it didn’t require any added sugar.

I love this recipe because you toss the ingredients in the crock pot, set it on low, and can go work on something else. I let it cook all morning and afternoon, and this gave the applesauce a chance to really break down and let the flavors mingle. The result is perfectly chunky, cinnamon-y, naturally sweet applesauce that is perfect on its own or baked into breads, muffins, etc.

applesauce 2.jpg

Slow Cooker Applesauce

Makes about 8 cups

3 lb. apples (about 9 medium-sized)

Juice from 1/2 lemon

3 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t ground nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick, whole

3/4 C water

Method:

Peel and thinly slice apples and add to crock pot. Squeeze lemon juice over apples and add spices and water. Give it a stir and set to low for 7-8 hours. Stir every hour or so.

Tip** If you let it cook long enough, the apples will break down on their own and shouldn’t have more than a couple little lumps. If you want a perfectly smooth consistency, you can use an immersion blender to get your desired consistency.

Keep in airtight container in fridge for up to a week, or freeze for up to 6 months. Enjoy!