In this wacky weather year, April has given us mild and mostly dry days, good for extreme weeding in the emerging herb garden, with evenings still cool enough for a fire in the hearth and a hot meal on the dinner table. Though I made this espresso-rubbed pot roast in the slow cooker, you can braise it on the stove or in the oven, too. I'd call this a pot roast for grown-ups; the instant espresso, cocoa and smoked paprika create an assertive, earthy rub that mellows with long cooking. When I prepare the meat, I trim all visible fat, which often means cutting the roast into large chunks along the natural separations. The chunks, easier to brown, fit comfortably into the slow cooker or Dutch oven, and leave very little fat in the sauce at the end.
Slow cooker espresso-rubbed pot roast
A post on Everyday Paleo inspired the spice rub for this recipe. Serves 6.
For the spice rub:
1 heaping Tbsp instant espresso
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (pimentón), sweet or bittersweet
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
3-1/2 lb chuck roast, trimmed of all visible fat (yield: 2-3/4 lb, approximately)
1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup brewed decaffeinated coffee
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Fresh black pepper (optional)
1-2 tsp agave nectar (optional, but recommended)
Combine all ingredients for the spice rub in a small bowl, and mix well. Place the trimmed meat in a large mixing bowl, and rub on all sides with the spices. Shake off excess.
In a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker, place the onion and smashed garlic.
Heat a deep sided, nonstick frying pan over high heat. Pour in the oil, then add the chunks of meat and brown thoroughly on all sides. Add the meat to the slow cooker.
Pour the brewed coffee into the frying pan (be careful -- splattering will occur!), along with the tomato paste and balsamic vinegar. Reduce heat to low, and continue to boil the liquid for 2 minutes, scraping to loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the liquid has reduced by one third, pour it into the slow cooker.
Cook on LOW for 7 hours, until the meat is falling-apart tender. Remove the meat from the slow cooker.
Pour off the liquid through a fat separator, or allow it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes in a measuring cup. Skim off any fat, and taste the sauce. If you wish, adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and agave nectar, and pour over the pot roast. If you want thicker sauce, boil it down in a small saucepan before reuniting the liquid with the meat.
Serve hot, over noodles or rice or potatoes. Like all stews, it's better the second day.
*NOTE: To cook stove top or in the oven, place the browned meat and other ingredients in a heavy Dutch oven; cook for 3-1/2 to 4 hours on lowest heat.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Slow cooker Tex-Mex pot roast
Slow cooker beef stew with potatoes, parsnips and rutabaga
Coffee cake with espresso-cocoa swirl
Quick and easy fudge mocha brownies
Roasted chickpeas with garlic, cumin and paprika
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Black bread, from 101 Cookbooks
Chocolate cake with raspberry white chocolate cream cheese frosting, from This Week for Dinner
Chocolate caramel espresso chews, from Culinary in the Desert
Grilled Moroccan flank steak, from Blue Kitchen
Ancho-spiced steaks with Cuban espresso sauce, from Peanut Butter and Julie
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