One of my favorite comfort foods is tender, pull-apart pot roast, shredded over hot mashed potatoes and topped with ladles of juice a.k.a. drippings OR a quick homemade gravy...oh, dear. It's the type of comfort food meal that sings to my soul.
Growing up in Kansas, my aunt used to slow cook a chuck roast on the stove top every once in awhile. She'd always layer it with carrots + huge chunks of chopped potatoes before placing a lid on top to let it do its thing. A perfect stick-to-your-bones, meat n' potatoes kinda meal.
As a kid, I always cherry-picked big chunks of meat and potatoes out of the pot come mealtime, piled them onto a plate, sprinkled them generously with salt, and then dunked every bite in ketchup! Ack. Don't judge.
These days I'm all about slow cooked pot roast with red wine, broth, and herbs made in the slow cooker or Dutch/French oven. (And no ketchup.) Yum, yum, yum!
But a person can only eat the same ol' pot roast for so long before they decide to experiment, right? That, and I don't always have wine on hand when I get a sudden hankering for slow cooked beef.
That's how this recipe came to be. I was out of wine and decided to surf Pinterest for slow cooker pot roast recipes that used other seasonings. I found this pot roast recipe and thought it looked amazing, but didn't want to use any canned cream of mushroom soup or dry onion soup packages (both typically contain a ton of sodium, additives, preservatives, etc.)
So, I looked up how to make homemade onion soup mix using real food ingredients (thankfully there are a ton out there with varying spices) and settled on this recipe from The Gracious Pantry.
Why this one? It only took me a few minutes to mix together using spices I already had on hand (except for dried onion flakes) and I love that it contains dried turmeric, which is so good for you! I definitely recommend giving it a try if you're looking for a healthier alternative to the dry onion soup packets they sell at the store.
I made sure to apply some to the outside of the roast before searing it (for extra flavor) and then added the rest to the broth to infuse the veggies and beef. From there, I added my normal pot roast mix-ins: sliced onions and root vegetables (carrots and sweet + spicy parsnips--mmmmm), which I sauteed first in a bit of cooking oil.
If you're waiting for me to mention how I add the potatoes to the slow cooker...well, I don't! I know it's really popular and a total time-saver to cook potatoes with the meat, but I actually prefer to fix them separately.
What? You think I'm a total weirdo? Pssssssshhh.
Here's my logic: 1) Mashed potatoes are the perfect vessel for pot roast juices and homemade gravy. 2) When you cook the carrots, onions & potatoes all together, they end up tasting the same.
I happen to enjoy a little variety in my meals. Hence why I'm pro potatoes on the side. Nothing wrong with that. Plus, it gives you the flexibility to switch it up with other mashed sides like cauliflower, sweet potato, or even squash! So many delicious options.
Ohhhh...and I should probably tell you that if you're short on time and not so good at planning ahead (me!), you can totally make slow cooker pot roast on the HIGH setting in about 4-5 hours. Pot roast purists might think that's blasphemous of me to suggest, but it works when you're pressed for time!
So...are you ready to nosh on some savory melt-in-your-mouth beef with tender vegetables and creamy mashed potatoes on the side? Let's make it happen!
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Side Dish Recommendations:
- Mashed Potatoes
- Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes)
- Cauliflower "Mashed" Potatoes
- Orange-Maple Roasted Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Notes & Tips
- If you want to use the drippings/juice to make a gravy you can either make a roux (using flour + butter) or a quicker gravy with cornstarch mixed in water. This is my favorite homemade gravy recipe using flour (I tweak it based on the amount I want to make & the type of drippings I'm using).
- When I don't have time to do it that way, I will instead do 1 cup of drippings (fat included - I don't measure) + 1 cup of broth heated in a skillet, mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water, then pour that into the drippings, stirring constantly until thick (about 2-3 minutes). I then season to taste with salt & pepper.
I'd like to hear from YOU!
What are your favorite sides to serve with pot roast?
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