Many thanks for all the birthday wishes last Friday, via comment or otherwise — it was, to say the least, an exciting day. This was foreshadowed by a comment from my big sister (by a mere 15 months) on that post:
Sorry to be a big bucket of cold water… but please be careful of the weather today. You are headed to an area that has an almost 100% chance of tornadoes.
And, I mean, I knew this. I have access to weather.com, knew that schools in the Southern part of the state were letting students out early. But it was my FORTIETH BIRTHDAY. We had reservations at a great restaurant, had pricelined a something-star non-refundable hotel room for the night. My in-laws had come to town to keep our kids, my BIL & SIL were driving from Lexington to meet us. The plans had been in place for weeks. In short, we would be driving to Louisville that day. Weather be damned.
But then a few hours later, we found ourselves waiting out a second tornado warning in a rest stop off 65-south, just three miles north of Henryville, IN — where the most intense damage occurred. Late Friday night, looking at a map of the tornadoes that touched down that day, the biggest cluster was exactly where we were Friday afternoon. We literally drove into tornadoes.
This fact flies in the face of each of my family members. Of the females in my family, I am the only one without a tornado phobia (we can discuss the phobias I *do* have at a later date). All three of them, I’m sure, considered us certifiably insane.
So the next morning, at breakfast, my big sister sent an email to my whole weather-phobic family. It included a tongue-in-cheek list of upcoming vacation ideas for me and Tim:
- Sightseeing in the Gaza Strip
- Deep sea fishing off the shores of Somalia
- A “Hugs, Not Drugs” mission trip to Northern Mexico
- Camping trip to the Fukashima nuclear site in Japan
- Cageless-shark diving just offshore from South Africa, in chummed waters (because chum actually makes great white sharks sleepy)
- Time travel back to June, 1944, for an lovely picnic for two on the seashore in Normandy, France
She’s a funny one, my big sister.
Once we got there, it was the perfect celebration; but even late-starting birthday trips must end. When ours did, we returned home to a sick child (confession: he was sick when we left — do you now get how badly I wanted to go to Louisville?). Between nurse-playing for the past 48 hours and getting caught up on laundry, I wanted to start this week with something easy and comforting for dinner: enter the slow-cooker pot roast.
(the chuck roast after being seared, before hitting the slow-cooker)
I love this recipe because it’s simple, cheap, and makes its own gravy (a stick blender helps in making this a sort-of one-pot meal). The long-braising makes what can be a tough cut of meat fall-off-the-bone tender. All you need is mashed potatoes and a green vegetable, and you’ve got the perfect comfort dinner.
Just what a girl needs after a birthday-bashing, sick-kid-nursing, tornado-chasing weekend.
I use a small (2#) bone-in chuck roast, because that’s what came with our beef quarter. The bones give the dish more flavor, and since the meat falls off anyway, there’s no reason to get a boneless chuck (though that should work if it’s what you have). If you have a larger roast, you can use the same amount of vegetables, but might need more stock or water for adequate braising.
Recipe: Simple Slow-Cooker Pot Roast
: serving sizes vary; a 2-pound bone-in roast will serve 2-3 adults
- 2-5 pound bone-in chuck roast, preferably grassfed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp rendered fat or olive oil
- 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with a string
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 or more cups stock or water
- Season the beef roast on both sides with salt and pepper.
- In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the fat until just starting to smoke. Sear the roast on both sides until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Place in slow-cooker, and lay thyme sprigs on top.
- In now-empty skillet, saute the onion, carrot, and celery over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute just until fragrant.
- Pour 1 cup stock (or water, though not as flavorful) into the saute pan, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour vegetables and liquid over the roast in the slow-cooker.
- Add more broth or water, if necessary, so that the liquid level comes halfway up the sides of the roast.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 6-8 hours, this is a dish that can go longer since it falls apart anyway).
- Remove roast and bones from crockpot. Using a stick blender, puree the liquid in the pot to use for gravy (use a food processor if you don’t have a stick blender).
- Serve with gravy and mashed potatoes or winter squash.
Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.