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Recipe for slow cooker espresso-rubbed pot roast


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

From the pantry, you'll need: instant espresso, unsweetened cocoa, smoked paprika (sweet or bittersweet), ground cinnamon, oregano, cumin, sea salt, agave nectar, tomato paste.

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.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

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

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Looks awesome. Seems like it would be a great for a cold or rainy day. I really like the combination of flavors... thanks

Love the sound of this rub!

Is there a reason you used decaf coffee? Just curious.

Todd, this is a really nice pot roast!

Pam, the rub is good, different, earthy. I think you'll like it.

Honey, I used decaf to make it a bit more child-friendly. But, of course, any instant espresso or coffee that you have on hand will be fine.

This dish seems great. I love cooking meat long /slow and the espresso, chocolate, paprika combo sounds faboo.

CJ, the spice combination definitely kicks up this pot roast a few notches. I always like pot roast better the second day (and usually at room temperature), and I enjoyed this version with several different mustards and chutneys.

I've never considered rubbing beef or steak with espresso (or coffee, for that matter), but now that I've seen it I can't unsee it! This looks awesome and I bet the flavor was fantastic. I am featuring this post in today's Friday Food Fetish roundup (with a link-back and attribution), but please let me know if you have any objections. As always, it's a pleasure to be following your creations…

This sounds like a wonderful pot roast! (Bookmarked!)

JW, I've used a coffee-based rub a few times, on beef, always combining it with chili or cumin, other earthy flavors. Thanks for the shout-out!

Kalyn, not my grandmother's pot roast, for sure, but something really different. And, like all pot roast, it's great cold, too.

Yummmmmmm....like a great "cowboy steak" but without all the extra effort of grilling. This sounds so good for a rainy Sunday at home!!

My girls are 12 and 13, and I know they will love the assertive flavors of this roast! And I love slow-cooker recipes (a new convert:)!
I am probably going back to full-time work and I am collecting crock-pot recipes, trying not to bore my girls with interminable stews:)
(BTW, Kalyn's new site is a life-saver!)

We have been using our slow cooker a lot lately, and the meals have been good but all seem to taste the same. This is definitely going to be different. Hope to try it next week.

This sounds fantastic I can't wait to try! Is it ok to sub honey for the agave nectar?

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