Just the smell of this pot roast simmering away in my crockpot the other day totally brought me back to dark-at-4:30 winter days of riding home with my mom from basketball practice to skitter over the icy sidewalk into our house to this very same aroma. My mom did a lot of carting my siblings and I around to various sporting events, she and my dad at most of our games, which didn’t leave a lot of time for cooking dinner once we all finally got home.
So…she turned to pot roast. Cheap. Easy. Hearty. Ready-and-waiting-for-you pot roast.
It’s good to have nice, comforting meals for your children to come home to, especially when your daughter makes a complete and utter fool of herself in front of a large crowd.
Here’s how it went down.
My older sister Sara is by far the most athletic member of our family. She probably broke just about every basketball record at our small-town high school and went on to successfully play on scholarship in college. Being seven years younger than her and attending the same small high school, I got a lot of “Oh, you’re Sara’s little sister, aren’t you…” which in my young and insecure adolescent mind roughly translated to, “Oh, you must be amazing at basketball too, aren’t you?”
So heading into my freshmen year, I felt like I had a lot to prove…I knew I wasn’t anywhere near as good as she was, but I didn’t want to be a complete let-down. Fast-forward to our very first game that year…we were playing our rivals in a season-opening tournament, which meant that there were a lot of people watching, there to support the eight teams in the tournament. Sitting four rows back in the crowd was none other than my sister’s high school basketball coach, who I was certain was only there to watch me and compare my talents to hers.
We were a young team, with a new coach, who after going down 10-0 in the first few minutes of the game, turned to her bench and yelled, “Does anyone on this team know how to dribble with their left hand?!” due to a series of mishaps we’d had, trying to run plays to the right-hand side of the court.
Eager to prove my merit and get some playing time, I strategically raised my left hand, and into the game I went. It took me a minute or two to get over some nervous jitters and just as I was starting to find my rhythm, it happened. My most embarrassing moment.
In an effort to rebound the ball, I had gotten tangled up with another girl underneath the basket. Neither of us got the ball, and there was suddenly a fast break: the ball and most of the other players were down on the other end of the court, lickety split.
I was sprinting down the middle of the floor to catch up, no ball or person around me, and just as I reached center court, I tripped..on my own feet and in a Superman-like display, flew about three feet before hitting the ground in a thud-inducing face-plant, skidding to a stop a few feet later. And the worst part was, I realized the crowd was silent in wincing pity. Face red and glowing from my embarrassment and a quickly developing floor-burn, I picked myself up and quietly jogged towards the rest of my teammates, willing the crowd to forget about me. Forever.
While we may have gone on to lose the game, and while I may have had a rug-burned chin for the next two weeks, at the very least, I came home a family that only laughed behind my back and a mom who fed me pot roast.
This pot-roast should be a part of your regular rotation. On sale, pot roast meat is cheap, and paired with its inexpensive pals carrots, onions, and potatoes, this whole meal is about as frugal as they come. This version of pot roast, thanks to the Pioneer Woman, has lots of flavor, and the best part is, you can throw everything in the crockpot and go about your busy winter days without having to worry about dinner. Fork-tender meat, over mashed potatoes, with this easy recipe for homemade gravy…is possibly the world’s most comforting, hearty meal. So whether you’re just on the go, or you have just walked out of your boss’s office with your skirt tucked into your leggings, try out this ultimate comfort food soon!
(recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks and my mom)
This easy slow cooker pot roast recipe has lots of flavor and yields fork-tender meat. Plus, this recipe for classic homemade gravy tops this meal off perfectly. I adapted the recipe by using dry spices instead of fresh and by cooking it in the crock pot.
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
salt (preferably coarse salt like kosher)
3 to 5 lb. chuck roast (could also use top or bottom round roast)
2 onions, peeled and cut in half
6-8 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch sticks
2 c. beef stock
1 tsp. dry crushed rosemary or 3-4 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tsp. dried thyme or 2-3 fresh thyme sprigs
Gravy (makes 4 c.)*
4 tbsp. fat (from beef drippings [instructions below] or butter)
4 tbsp. flour
2 c. of beef stock (from the crockpot when meat is done cooking)
seasoned salt (I like Lawry's)
(*You can control your gravy amount using this formula: Use equal parts fat and flour. Use 1/2 c. beef stock per 1 tbsp. fat/flour.)
For the Pot Roast:
Liberally salt and pepper your meat on both sides.
(Note: This following step of browning the onions, carrots, and meat is OPTIONAL...It adds some good flavor, but is not necessary if you're short on time!) In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Using tongs, place your onion halves in the oil for about a minute on each side or just until browned. Remove and set aside.
Then put the carrots in the hot oil; roll them around for about 2 minutes until slightly browned. Remove and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot, heat it again until very hot, and then add your meat to the pot. Sear for about 1 minute on each side and then remove it.
With the burner still on high, add 1 c. of beef stock, whisking constantly to deglaze your pot and get all of those flavorful meat bits loosened from the bottom of the pan. Turn heat off after about 1 minute.
Grease your crockpot with cooking spray. Place your seared meat in, and then throw in the onions and carrots. Pour the beef stock (the stock you used to deglaze the pot) over the meat...use enough to cover the meat about half-way (you may need to use some of the additional beef stock that you did not use for deglazing; if you don't use it all, set the remainder in the fridge for making the gravy later).
Sprinkle everything with the dry rosemary or thyme, making sure the spices get mixed into the stock. (or tuck fresh spices into the stock).
Cover the crockpot and cook on high for about 4 hours (may need a little more time if you're using a 5-lb. roast).
You'll know your roast is done if you can break off pieces of meat with your fork.
Serve the meat with the carrots and onion slices over some steaming mashed potatoes.
About 10 minutes before serving, skim off 4 tbsp. of the grease from the top of the juices in your crockpot. (You can do this carefully with a spoon or by pouring a cup of the juices into a separate container and letting it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes; the fat will rise to the top of the container).
Melt fat over medium heat in a saucepan until it is melted and hot; sprinkle in the flour gradually, whisking constantly to form a roux. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook the roux, stirring almost constantly, until just slightly darkened.
Slowly add your 2 c. of beef stock (that you've gathered from the crockpot or if you don't have enough, from what you reserved before), whisking constantly, so that no lumps from the roux remain. Add the seasoned salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over LOW heat, whisking pretty much constantly, for about 10 minutes or until adequately thickened.