Friday, February 3, 2012

Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast

Rachel and I have been in this quandary many times: it's 5:30pm and you wonder, "what should we make for dinner?" Typically, the meals I make have a lot of prep work. If I am proactive, I do the prep work early that morning or the night before. Without the proactive prep work, there are a lot of blank stares inside the fridge and cupboards. Rachel looked up some attractive-looking crock pot recipes, and this morning we put one to the test.

Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast
courtesy of:

3-4 pound boneless chuck roast
Seasoning Salt
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
black pepper to taste
1-2 T olive oil (depends on your pan)
1/4 cup water to deglaze pan
2-3 large onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 cup beef stock, reduced to 1/2 cup (can use a can of beef broth, but be sure to reduce it)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup tomato sauce

Rub meat well with seasoning salt, onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper. Heat heavy pan with small amount of olive oil and brown roast well on both sides. This will take a few minutes; don't rush the browning step.

While roast browns put 1 cup beef stock in saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, then let cool slightly and mix in balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce. Peel onions and cut into thick slices. Deglaze pan with 1/4 cup water and add to sauce mixture.

Place onions in bottom of slow cooker. Put meat on top of onions and pour beef stock mixture over. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until beef is tender. The meat might be partly submerged in liquid after this much time.

Remove meat from slow cooker and cover with foil to keep warm. Drain liquid from Crockpot and remove as much of the fat as you can with fat separator or skimmer. Cook down liquid by about 1/3, and serve sauce with meat and onions.
Of course (Rachel laughs), I altered the recipe some. Not much, I actually followed the cooking process with discipline. Where I made changes was in the last step. Rather than serving the meat with the liquid, I made a gravy. To do this, start with a roux (cooking equal parts by weight, butter and flour), then adding the liquid a little at a time until you find the right consistency. Just for trivia: a sauce/gravy made out of dark stock and a roux is called Espagnole and is one of the five mother sauces. From the five mother sauces, you can make any sauce.
Final Verdict: Not that great! It wasn't inedible but was too strong. I thought it interesting that the ingredients were going to be braised (cooked low & slow) in both a beef stock and balsamic vinegar. Vinegar of any kind is an acid and acid is the only liquid added to a crock pot dish; maybe with a little water. Beef stock is already strong in flavor and when added to balsamic vinegar, packs quite the punch. During the cooking process, the meat creates a broth. No need for a broth and a stock (broth is made from meat, stock from bones and vegetables). 
The gravy was delicious by itself but, with the meat, added another punch to a dish already overloaded with flavor.
Next time I will try it with the balsamic but no beef stock. Please let me know of your crock pot creations.
Happy Eating

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