Slow Cooked Pot Roast

Pot Roast

This recipe will serve 8 to 10 people, depending on how much your guests like their meat! The recipe calls for fresh thyme and parsley. I’ve noted the equivalent in the ingredient list for dried thyme, but for the parsley, it is slightly different. Because you are using half the parsley on the vegetables and half in the gravy, you would need the equivalent of 2 tablespoons dried on the vegetables and 2 tablespoons dried in the gravy. If you wish to use fresh herbs, please refer to the vegetable checking page to learn how to properly clean them.

Ingredients:

One 4-pound beef chuck roast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for coating
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into ½ inch wedges
3 cloves garlic, mashed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
3 cups low-sodium beef/chicken/vegetable broth
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped

Directions:

Sprinkle the roast all over with 2 ½ teaspoons salt and 1 ½ teaspoons pepper. Coat in flour and shake off any excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the roast to the skillet and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer the roast to the insert of a 6-quart slow cooker, along with the carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and stir until the oil begins to turn brick-red, about 1 minute. Add the flour and wine and whisk until thick (it’s OK if there are some lumps). Add the beef broth, bay leaves, thyme, allspice, ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and bring to a simmer, whisking, until the gravy is smooth and thickens slightly, about 4 minutes. Pour the gravy into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. The roast and vegetables should be tender. Remove the roast and let rest for a few minutes. Discard the thyme stems and strain the vegetables, reserving the gravy. Toss the vegetables with half the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir the remaining parsley into the gravy and season with salt and pepper. Slice the roast against the grain. Serve the meat and vegetables on a platter, moistening them with some of the gravy; serve the remaining gravy on the side.

If you want to make this ahead of time, follow all the same steps, browning the meat and creating the gravy, but allow them to cool. Slice up your vegetables, and add everything (minus the parsley) to a large gallon sized freezer bag. When you wish to actually cook your roast, let it defrost in your fridge first, then add it the crock pot and follow the remainder of the above instructions. It may take a while for the roast to defrost, even overnight. I suggest having a drip pan underneath it in the fridge so that you don’t have to worry about any errant juices.

Crock Pot Week Day 5 – All’s Well That Ends Well

That's All Folks - Crock Pot Week

Well folks, it’s the end of the first edition of Crock Pot Week. I hope that you enjoyed the recipes, the fun facts and the cleaning tips. We will be doing another edition of prepare-ahead crock pot recipes at a later date, so if you have any suggestions or requests for converting some of your favourite recipes, let me know! I thought we’d wrap things up with a classic that growing up in Jewish home always seemed exotic to me… the Sunday Dinner Pot Roast. Sure we had Friday night dinner every week, with brisket, or flunken or delicious chicken dishes, but to me Pot Roast was a mystery. I would ask people about it and they would drool, telling me about the melt-in-your-mouth meat, the delicious gravy and tender vegetables. Now I know that it is quite a simple dish, no mystery at all! Remember when your roast is done, let it sit for a bit to rest and retain it’s juices, then slice it AGAINST the grain. You will have wonderful, tender meat. Enjoy this dish for Friday night or Sunday night…. or any day of the week!

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

An easy way to up the nutrition on this dish is to use high fibre or whole wheat pasta instead of regular. If you don’t have fresh basil, you can used dried instead. The rule of thumb when converting is to use ⅓ of the amount dried that you would fresh. So this recipe calls for ½ a cup of fresh, so you would use 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of dried. This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

12 chicken thighs, skin and fat removed
Olive oil spray or enough oil to coat a pan
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
½ cup chicken broth, more if needed*
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups cooked (12 oz. uncooked) pasta

Directions:

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and spray with cooking oil. Add the chicken to the pan and brown on each side for about 3-4 minutes. Add all other ingredients to the slow cooker, except the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms in the last hour, mushrooms can be omitted if you are not around to toss them in. Cook on low for 6 hours. In the last hour add the mushrooms. Serve over pasta. If you are preparing this ahead of time, complete the steps above, however after browning the chicken, allow to cool and then add all of the ingredients, minus the mushrooms and pasta into a gallon sized freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and store in your freezer. On the day you wish to make your Cacciatore, allow it to cook on low for 8 hours. Again, add the mushrooms in at the last hour and then serve over pasta. *Depending on your crock pot you may need to add more liquid.

Crock Pot Week Day 4 – Tips for Cleaning Your Crock Pot

Burnt Crock Pot

As Crock Pot week starts to wind up you’re starting to realize that yes, the prep may be a cinch, but there is still the clean-up! And of course, like me, you left the pot sitting a little too long after dinner, and now you have a stubborn stuck-on mess to get rid of. So here are some tips to help you get back your shiny clean pot so you can make another recipe!

**Warning**
These instructions are for cleaning the stoneware crock part of your crock pot. Never submerge the base of your crock pot (the part you plug-in) in water. To clean that part just use a squirt of household cleaner and a damp rag or sponge.

Method 1Throw it in the dishwasher

If your crock pot is dishwasher safe and the mess inside is only a little stuck on you might be just fine by tossing the crock in the dishwasher. Pretty simple.

Method 2Soak it in hot soapy water

Put your crock pot in the sink, squirt in some dish-soap and fill with the hottest tap water you can. Let it soak for 1 to 2 hours and wash as usual.

Method 3Baking soda

If soaking your crock pot didn’t work, pour out all the water from the crock and sprinkle liberally with baking soda and scrub. The baking soda acts as a scouring powder that is safe to use on almost all surfaces. This usually does the trick. But… if scrubbing with baking soda doesn’t work then dump about ¼ cup of baking soda into the crock, fill it will water to cover all the burnt areas, squirt a dollop of dish soap and put the crock into the heating base of your crock pot. Cover and “cook” on high for 2-4 hours. The combination of heat, baking soda and detergent should do the trick.

Method 4Oven cleaner (The Last Resort!)

Oven cleaner…. it is toxic, the fumes are horrible to breathe in and it’s just some really nasty stuff. But as the last resort dry your crock off as much as possible and spray some oven cleaner on the burnt areas and let it sit a few hours to overnight. Repeat as necessary.

Method 5Prevention (The Best One!)

Here a three tips for preventing a mess.

  • Use a crock pot liner. These are heat safe plastic liners that you can cook in. Much like an oven bag.
  • Spray your crock with non-stick cooking spray. This will not help you from burning your dish but it usually helps release anything from the sides and bottom of your crock should you burn it.
  • Follow the recipe and cook for the listed length of time. If a recipe has a time range, such as 4-6 hours. Cook for 4 hours and then check it to see if it is done yet. If not cook longer. Time ranges are given in many recipes because different crock pots cook slower or faster than others. If your dish is done at the lowest time range turn it off or if your crock pot has a “warm” setting put it on warm to keep it till time to serve.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

These sweet and tangy meatballs are wonderful and filling, as a main course or served as smaller portions for an appetizer. Have the kids roll the meatballs for you, to get them involved in the kitchen (and to save you the work!) Easy tip: Want the same size every time? Invest in a small sized ice cream scooper! Just make sure to label it clearly “MEAT” so that you don’t accidentally use it on dessert!

When serving a crowd, this recipe easily doubles.

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs. ground meat
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 cups cola/ginger ale
1 ½ cups ketchup
1 can sliced mushrooms

Directions:

In a large bowl mix together all of the ingredients, save the soda, ketchup and mushrooms. Form 1 inch sized meatballs. Set the crock pot on low and add the soda, ketchup and mushrooms. Stir to combine. Add the meatballs, and let cook for 3 to 4 hours. Check after 2 to make sure the sauce is still liquid enough. You can always add water/chicken stock or more soda if needed. Once cooked through, serve over rice.

In order to make this ahead of time, prepare the meatballs as above, and then lay them out on a cookie sheet or other flat surface that you can stick in your freezer. Allow the meatballs to freeze at least half-way through, before removing them from the cookie sheet and storing them in a gallon sized freezer bag. On the day you wish to prepare your meatballs, add the liquids and the mushrooms as you would above, then add in the frozen meatballs and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Check half way through to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot, adding more as needed. Once done, serve up over rice.

Crock Pot Week Day 3 – Where Were We?

I'm Back

Dear Readers… yes, all 9 of you (thanks Mom!), sorry for the short break in blogging, but I was away on a brief business trip to the exotic land of Bangkok, Thailand! At a later date I will blog all about the trip and maybe even post a few pics, but for now, let’s pick up where we left off on those great meals that waiting for us to come home at the end of the day. While I probably should have saved the curry dish to post today, instead let’s serve up some fun and delicious sweet and sour meatballs. These sweet tangy meatballs served up over rice make a great meal that the whole family will just love.

Curry Chicken

Curry Chicken

Add a little Indian flair to your dinner table with this easy curry chicken. This recipe serves 8.

Ingredients:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into large chunks
2 medium onions – thinly sliced
1 15 oz. can chickpeas – drained and rinsed
2 medium sweet potatoes – peeled and diced
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large or 2 small zucchini, diced
2 cups coconut milk – light or regular
1 cup chicken stock – low sodium
1 5.5 oz. can tomato paste
4 tablespoons curry powder – salt-free
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cracked pepper
2 tablespoon finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
1 fresh chili, sliced (optional)
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced (optional)
4 kaffir lime leaves, sliced (optional)
1 cup green peas – frozen
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
cilantro – optional garnish
Rice

Directions:

In the bottom of the slow cooker, whisk together coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato paste, garlic, ginger and all of your spices. If you are using the chili, lemongrass and kaffir leaves, add them now too. Add chicken breasts, onion, chickpeas, both kinds of potatoes and the zucchini. Using tongs, gently toss ingredients together to ensure everything is evenly coated. Cook on Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours. Stir in peas and lemon juice 5 minutes before serving. Serve over rice and with plenty of fresh cilantro.

In order to make this ahead of time, simply whisk together coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato paste, garlic, ginger and all of your spices in a small bowl. If you are using the chili, lemongrass and kaffir leaves, add them now too. In a large gallon sized freezer bag, place the chicken and vegetables, except the peas, and pour your liquid spice mixture over everything in the bag. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Rub the chicken through the bag, rubbing the sauce over and into chicken. Store the bag flat in the freezer until frozen through, then you can stand it up until you’re ready to use it. When it comes to the day you decide to serve the chicken, cook on low for 8 hours, and then follow the rest of the steps for preparing the dish the same as above.

Crock Pot Week Day 2 – The Benefits of Slow-Cooking

Slow Turtle

So we all know the obvious benefit of crock-pot cooking… it’s having a nice hot meal ready and waiting for you! But what are some of the other benefits that you might not have thought of? Here’s one for you: Economics! Not only does a crock-pot use very little electricity to run, it also doesn’t heat up your whole kitchen and house the way leaving your oven on would. True we may be starting the early days of Fall, but you still don’t want your oven to make your whole house feel like an oven! And speaking of economy… when you slow cook, having the meat basting in its own juices for hours, you can use tougher, usually less expensive cuts of meat. The meats that seem a good price, but all that fat and connective tissue? FLAVOUR! The slow cooking will give it time to melt away and make a moist delicious roast! One last plug for the use of crock-pots: Safety! As a person who tends to be a bit (read: Majorly!) klutzy, it’s a lot safer to have a small, contained appliance plugged in all day or overnight, rather than leaving your oven or stove-top on, even on low. Anything that can help me cut down on kitchen accidents is A+ in my books!

Teriyaki Chicken

Terriayki Chicken

This sticky, sweet and tangy chicken recipe uses boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. You’ll find the meat is juicer and MUCH less expensive! Yields 8 Servings

Ingredients:

3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup regular or reduced-sodium soy sauce
⅓ cup cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
¾ tsp. ground ginger
4 ½ tsp. cornstarch
4 ½ tsp. cold water
1 bunch scallions
Sesame seeds
Rice

Directions:

Place chicken in a 4-qt. slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pepper; pour over chicken. Cook, covered, on low 4-5 hours or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken to a serving platter; keep warm. Transfer cooking juices to a small saucepan; skim fat. Bring cooking juices to a boil. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and cold water until smooth; stir into cooking juices. Return to a boil; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Toss the chicken in the sauce, saving some to pour over the rice. Thinly slice the green portion of the scallion and top the chicken with the scallions and sesame seeds. Serve the chicken up over hot rice.

In order to make this ahead of time, in a large gallon sized freezer bag, place the chicken, and combine the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pepper and pour over the chicken in the bag. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Rub the chicken through the bag, rubbing the marinade over and into chicken. Store the bag flat in the freezer until frozen through, then you can stand it up until you’re ready to use it. When it comes to the day you decide to serve the chicken, cook on low for 8 hours, and then follow the rest of the steps for preparing the sauce the same as above.

Crock Pot Week – The Working Mom’s Secret Weapon

CrockPot

Ahh the crock pot! You know, you can use it for more than just cholent! In fact, all week, I will be posting recipes that you can prepare in advance, freeze in gallon freezer-bags and then pop into the crock pot as you leave your house in the morning. When you get home at the end of your day, you will have a nice warm, slow-cooked meal waiting for you! All you need to do make some rice or pasta (depending on the dish) and voila! You’ve got a meal that would have taken you hours to prepare ready for you and your family.

Interesting fact: Did you know the Crock-Pot was invented by a Yid? Irving Naxon, the inventor of the crock-pot got the idea from the stories his mother would tell him of when she was growing up back in the old country, each Friday afternoon her mother would send her to the local bakery with their pot of prepared but yet uncooked cholent. There it would be put into the oven for a full day, while the family observed the Sabbath and the hot oven cooled to warm while not in use for that same period. At sundown she would go to the bakery and bring the family their delicious pot of steamy stew.

Irving remembered the story and was inspired to find a way to create a heating element that surrounded the pot in the same way that an oven would have. He wanted to find a low cost, low electricity use solution.Today, the crock pot is central to American cooking. Irving passed away in 1989, but I’m sure he would have been proud to see his invention used for his mother’s cholent, and so much more!

To read more about Irving Naxon go to http://www.beyondbubbie.com/my-dad-the-inventor-of-the-crock-pot/