Chunk of Chuck, Two Ways

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I joined the throngs of Arkansans at grocery stores last Wednesday, stocking up on foodstuffs before sleet and ice would make travel impossible for a whole (ahem) day and a half. We Southerners are wired as a people to respond to inclement weather by buying chunks of meat and making chili, stew, and pot roast. The urge is impossible to resist. Lemmings are we.

My intention for the mountain of chuck roast I heaved into my cart (really, just leave the legs on it next time; I’ll ride it home) was mostly just to make enough stew for my household and my father-in-law to last us through Snowmageddon 2013. The new recipe I was trying called for balsamic vinegar and tomato paste, plus cutting the meat into smallish pieces, all visible fat excised, and simmering in the oven for about three hours.

Well, trimming the fat from each individual inch-and-a-half piece took way too long. Half of the meat went into that dish, and the rest went back in the fridge. We liked the stew well enough, but not so much that I’d make it again. The next day, faced with more ice on the roads and that extra chuck roast in my fridge, I decided to resurrect the old ways and chunk the chuck into a slow cooker, as per the directions on the back of a package of Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Onion Soup Mix. With a little ministration, I’d be done with my part in short order, and the slow cooker would do the rest.

It was the best idea I’ve had in a long time.

You’ve probably had this recipe before. Your mother served it while Walter Cronkite was intoning the latest news from NASA. Maybe the leftovers were reheated for the next day’s dinner in a microwave as big as a TV. How easy is it? You brown 3 pounds of chuck roast in a little vegetable oil on a skillet, then plunk it into a slow cooker onto a bunch of scrubbed and sliced carrots and potatoes. Combine 2 envelopes of the soup mix with some water and pour over all. Cover with a lid, then try to leave it alone for about six hours on high, although I switched between low and high a few times when the contents of the pot threatened to bubble over.

While our dinner simmered, I was able to have a heart-to-heart chat with Last born, wash and fold several loads of laundry, and join First born chasing our dog Kai after he escaped through the front door, setting off on an unleashed romp through our sleet-coated neighborhood. (In hindsight, why we thought we could catch a Siberian Husky running joyfully, full-tilt, on ice and snow is beyond me. His very being is wired to lope long distances over glaciers, and a woman in an apron and orthopedic shoes, waving a bag of hot dogs, cannot hope to compete.) Luckily, a passing police officer managed to nab Kai on one of the streets half a mile away. Kai loved his ride in the front seat of the police vehicle.Thank you, officer.

Dinner was ready by 6:30 p.m., regardless of the attendant distractions. That’s the beauty of a slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast, adapted slightly from the recipe on the back of a box of Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Onion Soup Mix. And no, Lipton® didn’t give me anything in exchange for featuring their soup mix on my blog. ‘Tis I who am grateful, because I got two tasty dinners out of this recipe. And I am glad to know where the “®” key is after writing this post.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 lbs. boneless beef pot roast (chuck)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into one-inch pieces
About 2 pounds of red or white new potatoes, cut in half if large
2 envelopes Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Onion Soup Mix
3/4 cup water

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and brown roast on both sides.
Coat the inside of a 3.5-to-4-quart slow cooker with non-stick spray. Arrange carrots and potatoes in the bottom. Place browned roast on top.

Combine the two envelopes of Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Onion Soup Mix with water. Add to skillet, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Add soup mixture to slow cooker. Cook covered on low 8 to 10 hours or high 4 to 6 hours.

Thicken gravy, if desired, by combining additional 1/4 cup water with 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Stir into pot roast mixture already in slow cooker, and cook on high 15 minutes or until thickened. Serve it forth.

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