Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

While we’re starting to feel the effects of spring around here, there are still some chilly, rainy, dreary days hanging around. Now is the time to squeeze in all those wintery comfort foods before it gets too warm around here to truly enjoy them. I think I need to whip up a few more soups, one last pot of chili, and get to roasting as many winter vegetables as I can, before I wake up and realize it’s too late! But first, one key “winter” dish must be executed: pot roast.

I’m sure there are way too many pot roast recipes already, so I hope you’ll bear with me as I share my version. You see, as much as I can grill a steak with ease or whip up a pumpkin soup in no time, my pot roasts, in my opinion, have always left something to be desired. Too dry, too bland, too mushy…you name it, I’ve done it to a pot roast. So over the years, I’ve tweaked my techniques and recipes, making notes along the way. And now, I think I finally have it.

What did I discover that improved my pot roast? Here are a few tips/tricks:

- Some fat=flavor here. I have tried to make a pot roast with a really lean cut before, and it just wasn’t the same. Dry and uninteresting. Chuck roast is my preferred cut. I make a point to skim off the fat before I serve, both to balance flavors and to cut back the fat content in the finished dish.

- Don’t skimp on the salt. While I don’t heavily salt any of my dishes, I’ve found that proper amounts of salt really brighten the flavor of the meat. I salt in two stages – once before I brown the meat, and again once I’m finishing the dish and checking for seasoning balance. What’s the right amount of salt? That varies, depending on whether you’re using a store-bought stock or homemade. (I don’t salt my homemade stocks) It also depends on personal preference. What tastes salty to me might be bland to you. (I’m actually rather salt-sensitive – I have used such a light hand on salt at home for so long, that when I eat in restaurants, many dishes taste very salty to me!)

- Browning the meat before braising is essential. It’s an extra step, and so therefore takes some time, but the flavors are so much deeper when the meat is browned.

- Remove the potatoes from the pot roast, and instead serve mashed potatoes on the side. I just dislike the mushy texture of the soggy potatoes after they’ve cooked in the pot roast all day.

- Using alcohol as a flavor booster. You’ll see in this recipe that there are two kinds of alcohol. While this is not a requirement, I found that the combination of red wine and brandy added a depth to the dish that I couldn’t replicate otherwise. And with 6-8 hours in the slow cooker, I can’t imagine a smidgen of alcohol content remains.

- Taking advantage of that no-fuss, hands-off kitchen appliance: the slow cooker! When I compared the slow cooker to using my dutch oven, the slow cooker created a more tender, moister pot roast. The added benefit of reduced energy consumption (when comparing the slow cooker to the oven) definitely helps too.

So while this is a bit more involved than most of my slow cooker recipes (which are more of a “dump-and-go” routine), it’s worth it. And as with any slow cooker dish, the aroma that permeates throughout the house is wonderful. It definitely brightens any dreary, rainy day!

What makes a good pot roast, in your opinion? Do you have any secret ingredients in your recipe?

Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

1 3 lb chuck roast

salt and pepper

1 large onion, sliced

1 celery stalk, sliced

5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1/2 c mixed mushrooms (or button mushrooms), sliced

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

2 c homemade chicken or beef stock

2 c full-bodied red wine (I used a dolcetto)

1/3 c brandy

1-2 T cornstarch

1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

Pat the roast dry and season with salt and pepper. In a skillet at medium-high heat, brown the roast on all sides. Place the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, mushrooms, thyme, and bay leaves in the slow cooker, and lay the roast on top. Pour the stock, wine, and brandy over the roast. Set the slow cooker to low and allow to cook for 6-8 hours.

Remove the roast and vegetables with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the leftover juices, and skim the fat off the top (or use a gravy separator). Place the juices in a small saucepan. Spoon about 1/2 c of the juices in a small bowl, and whisk in the cornstarch. Pour this slurry back in the saucepan and bring the juices to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir until juices thicken into a gravy. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Place the roast and vegetables back in the slow cooker, and pour the gravy over. Turn on high and rewarm for about 15-20 minutes.

Serve on top of mashed potatoes, garnished with parsley. Serves 6.

Comments

    • Claudia says

      Sounds delicous, just the liquid seems WAY too much! That would make the roast completely submerged in liquid, right?

      • altawrites says

        Claudia – I suppose it depends on what size of crockpot you use. It only came about halfway up the meat for me. If you’re concerned, I’m sure cutting the liquid back wouldn’t be an issue. I just enjoyed that there was lots for gravy. :)

  1. says

    Woohoo another slow cooker recipe i can add to my list. I’m trying to find as many excuses to use the slow cooker. Yum!!! All of the sudden i feel like making myself a pot roast sandwich. hahaha…

  2. says

    I am loving all the slow cooker recipes at the moment, and this sounds wonderful. I am still in that newbie slow cooking phase where I still can’t quite believe that you can put all the ingredients in and get a wonderful home cooked meal with almost no effort!

    Thanks for the recipe.

  3. says

    A good pot roast is very much great comfort food. Yours looks lovely. I almost never make mashed potatoes with mine (usually I do roasted potatoes at the same time, but add them later in the process to help avoid the mushy factor), but pot roast and mashed potatoes are the ultimate dish. :-)

    I love all your tips, Alta. I have a killer Bourbon Pot Roast recipe for chuck roasts. We also cook a lot of venison (family members who hunt) and one key factor for cooking venison roasts is to be sure to add fat as you said. Venison is very lean. Sometimes it tastes “gamey,” but adding beef fat (trimmings from roasts or steaks) or pork fat (bacon) takes that taste away and provides delightful flavor. I don’t always brown mine first, but if using the oven, I cook at a higher temp initially and flip over before reducing temperature. I guess I’m getting a similar effect that way.

    Shirley

  4. says

    Sorry, haven’t dropped by for a while…. I love using the slow cooker but mainly for soups. I’ve yet to try making meat with it. Mmmm… will try one of these days. Thks for sharing!

  5. says

    What else I can say! I just love this slow cooker recipe. I think this is one of the housewives’ favourites. Simply delicious and perfect recipe to serve the whole family.

    • tastyeatsathome says

      Kristy – I definitely agree, I think it’s any home cook’s favorite, especially when there are other things that need to be done! I left the house for a long while, making my husband endure the delicious aroma while I ran errands.

      Blackswan – You should definitely try meats. I’ve made shredded beef and pork for tacos and enchiladas (even tamales) so many times in the slow cooker.

      Cookin’ Canuck – It makes SUCH a difference – seasoning throughout the cooking process.

      Cristie – Thank you!

      Shirley – Bourbon Pot Roast…sounds amazing. And I’m super-jealous of your venison supply. I have to go out of my way to get venison, but I LOVE it. And yes, you’re correct, and I usually use that high temp in the oven method with a traditional roast to brown the exterior too.

      Simply Life – Thank you!

      Lauren – It’s amazing – how that little slow cooker can do so much!

      Jenn – OOh, pot roast sandwich. You’re speaking my language!

      Sook – Thank you!

  6. says

    Your pot roast looks delicious. I really like the idea of the addition of red wine and brandy. I will have to remember that-great post. Thanks for sharing.

  7. says

    I always say this on slow cooker posts, but mine cooks really hot. It’s frustrating because things cook too quickly and dry out. I’ve heard that all the newer ones are that way. I think the larger ones (6-8qt) work better, though. I just haven’t gotten a new one since the one I have is my new one. Enough of that! Your roast looks great. I like the red wine idea and will try that next time, however I cook it. I agree on the potatoes, we like them better cooked separately.

  8. says

    The pot roast looks fantastic! Although it’s been 60 degrees for the past 3 days here, I’m still not convinced winter is over! Haha!

  9. Tori says

    Another tip/trick for you to try when making a Pot Roast is using Grass Fed Beef. I work with La Cense Beef and our beef is higher in omega 3 acids and lower in omega 6. Grass fed beef is not only healthier for you but the flavor difference is incredible!

  10. says

    Found this post on Tastespotting. Made this pot roast for dinner tonight and it turned out awesome! I love boozin’ up my meat hah! Served it alongside with roasted asparagus, baby bella mushrooms and mashed potatoes with fried shallots and garlic.

  11. Elyse says

    I would love if you could make a condensed “print version” of this, sans comments. The recipe looks great but I can’t bring myself to print 8 pages to get it; way too much paper wasted. I’ll keep my browser open to make it today, and if I like it I will hand print it. But that’s definitely a bummer.
    thank you.

    • tastyeatsathome says

      Elyse – I definitely need to figure that out for you. I have all of these “improvements” that I keep meaning to make…and haven’t! I’ll check it out and hopefully will have something for you soon. :)

      • tastyeatsathome says

        Okay, so to let you all know – I set up the print option, however, it would seem that it still prints the comments. WordPress is somewhat limited in their options, unfortunately. :(

    • Heather says

      If you are using Windows, open Word. Then, hold down the left mouse button and select what you want to print from the webpage. Next, either right click on the highlighted text and select “copy” or use the shortcut control+c. Then go to Word and hit the “paste” button/right click and select “paste”/control+v. That will put the text into the document and you can print from there. As a bonus, if you save the document, you now have an e-copy! If you are using a Mac or other operating system, I’m sure there is a very similar method you can use.

  12. Diana says

    Made this recipe this weekend…wow! What a hit! I followed it almost exactly: I did omit the mushrooms and brandy; added a bit more garlic and celery. I also added in the potatoes; they didn’t get mushy at all, just nice and soft. The gravy was very nice, and the last step of letting it all warm up together in the crock pot…perfect!
    It was so good, my kids didn’t even complain about eating it two nights in a row! SCORE! Thanks for a great recipe!

  13. Dolan says

    Instead of the corn starch, you can try making a roux (heat flour and butter (or other fat) in a pan until golden brown/tan), then whisk in the juices.. I’ve made gravy this way via other recipes, so may try this tonight when my pot roast finishes. Thanks for the great looking recipe :) I don’t know the pros and cons of roux’s vs corn starch for sauce thickening. Maybe someone else can share

  14. Kathy D says

    Thanks for this awesome recipe. Love the combo of wine and brandy. It gave the dish a depth of flavor we really enjoyed. I’ve never liked the standard slow cooker pot roast made with cream of mushroom soup (icky), but the braised mushrooms were great. I had to substitute dried mixed mushrooms but it worked as well.

  15. Dolan says

    Update on the roux: using it as a thickening agent was fine, but the butter probably adds more fat to the dish than most would desire. I did enjoy the nutty flavor that the roux added though. (for the roux, I heated 1/4 butter and 1/4 cup flour for several minutes until a golden tan color). Overall great dish, and probably even better with the brandy and bay leaves that I was missing

    • altawrites says

      Dolan – thanks for the feedback! I could imagine a roux would put a yummy nutty flavor. (for those making it gluten-free, using a flour mix of half sweet white rice flour, half sorghum, works well for roux)

      Kathy – Thanks – glad you enjoyed it!

  16. Jim says

    Awesome. This was my first attempt at a pot roast and I am glad I chose this recipe. I threw in some parsnips and they were a very good addition. Thanks!

  17. Marilyn Riordan says

    Hi great looking roast, will try it soon. Just wanted you to know, I have a new crock pot that you can braise your meat right in the crock pot. It not only slow cooks, but bakes, and steams also. It is the new Ninja slow cooker. This is the best I have ever seen. I have owned several over the years and it is nice to be able to braise and then slow cook in one pot. Thanks for the great receipes, keep them coming.

  18. Katie says

    I followed the recipe, but doubled the garlic, tripled the mushrooms and added one bulb of fennel cut into 1/2″ chunks. Excellent recipe!

  19. Erica says

    This was delicious!!! I’ve had a hard time finding a pot roast recipe with enough flavor for me. Thank you for sharing!

  20. siliconivy says

    Just wanted to say thanks for this recipe. This was my first pot roast, & first time cooking for some of my family. They loved it & I got the best compliment one can get, requests for the recipe. Only change I made is I didn’t make the gravy, just went with the au jus, which was delicious with biscuits.

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