A couple of weeks ago, I dreamt about a good old-fashioned pot roast with brown gravy, roast potatoes and carrots, the kind of dish we got in the school cafeteria when I was a kid. To satisfy my adult craving, the taste had to be rich, meaty, and traditional. No hot sauce, no random Asian ingredients thrown in for fun: I wanted the pot roast I remembered from childhood. I can't explain why; as cravings go, this one was quite specific. Of course, nothing prevented me from using really good ingredients, and improving on my taste memory with a terrific rendition of pot roast. I loved it all the more because I made it in the slow cooker, which perfumed the house with lovely aromas while I went about the other work I'd planned for the day. Except for a nice piece of beef chuck, everything for this recipe came directly from my well-stocked pantry.
Old-fashioned slow cooker pot roast with gravy
From the pantry, you'll need: all-purpose unbleached flour, olive oil, onion, garlic, red wine, dried mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, bay leaf, black peppercorns, Dijon mustard, arrowroot.
1/4 cup dried mushrooms
3-lb beef chuck roast
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup beef broth (low-sodium canned or homemade)
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 tsp dried thyme
12 black peppercorns
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
1 Tbsp grainy Dijon mustard (or use non-grainy Dijon)
2 Tbsp arrowroot
Place the dried mushrooms in a glass measuring cup, and fill with water to the 1 cup mark. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Set aside.
Trim the roast to remove the largest pieces of fat. You'll end up with several big chunks of meat.
In a large mixing bowl, dredge the pieces of meat in the flour. Heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan, and brown the pieces of meat on all sides, being careful not to crowd the pan. As each piece is browned, place it in the slow cooker.
When all of the meat is browned, deglaze the pan by pouring in the red wine. With a rubber spatula, scrape up all of the bits of meat that have stuck to the pan. When the wine is reduced by half, pour it into the slow cooker.
Add to the meat the Worcestershire, beef broth, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns and salt. Carefully pour the mushroom soaking water into the slow cooker; be sure not to add the sediment that has accumulated. Finely chop the soaked mushrooms and set aside (don't add them to cooker).
Cook, covered, on LOW for 5 hours, or until the meat is quite tender. With tongs, remove the meat and onions, and set on a platter.
Pour off the liquid into a small saucepan, and place on the stovetop. Bring to a boil. Whisk in the mustard. Mix the arrowroot with 1/4 cup water, and add that to the saucepan along with the chopped mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When the gravy is thickened just as you like it, pour it over the beef.
Serve hot, with roasted carrots and potatoes. Or, allow the pot roast to cool completely, and refrigerate or freeze. As with many slow cooked dishes, this one tastes even better on the second day.
More beefy slow cooker comfort food recipes:
Slow cooker barbecue beef brisket
Slow cooker beef and green chile stew
Slow cooker Tex-Mex pot roast
Slow cooker Italian pot roast with sun-dried tomatoes and olives
Slow cooker espresso-rubbed pot roast
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Cuban pot roast, from I Breathe... I'm Hungry...
CrockPot Hungarian pot roast with sour cream and paprika gravy, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Paleo pot roast, from Everyday Maven
Pot roast tacos with horseradish sauce, from Mountain Mama Cooks
Hard cider pot roast with mushrooms, carrots, and onions, from A Farmgirl's Dabbles
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