Saturday, April 30, 2011

Crockpot Cooking: Italian Style Pot Roast

One of the things I like best about using my crock pot when I'm going to be out (you know, other that having the meal pretty much ready that evening) is the smell when you open the door. This is one of those that has all the kids going, "Oh!! That smells soooo good!", and wondering how much longer it will be before they can eat. Some of the ingredients in this are interchangable with other things. I'll list the things I used this time and will let you know of the other possibilities in the photo descriptions.

Italian Style Pot Roast

Chuck roast                             12 oz. can tomato paste
1 pint diced tomatoes               stock (or water and beef base)
onions                                      carrots
zucchinni                                  salt or seasoned meat tenderizer
pepper                                     italian seasoning
olive oil

Look!! It's not frozen!
Okay, so that's only because I just bought it the night before and never put it in the freezer. But still, it counts.
Searing the meat in a hot pan in a little olive oil is optional, but the brown goodies in the bottom of the pan are good in the sauce. Put the roast in the crock pot and sprinkle with salt, or seasoned tenderizer, and pepper.
Deglaze the pan with the stock or water as soon as you take the roast out. If you used water, add a little (no more than 2-3  teaspoons) beef base and stir, scraping up all the little stuck on bits in the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste and stir it in a bit. I don't really know how much water I used. I just poured some from the kettle on the stove. When I stirred in the tomato paste it was a little thick so I added a bit more. Maybe 1 &1/2c. The consistancy was that of spaghetti sauce when I was finished, which brings us to the first of our alternatives. If you want to go the super easy route, you can just use your favorite spaghetti sauce for this. Pizza sauce will work too. You can also use red wine in place of the stock, but I didn't have any. I rarely do, so I've never actually tried this with the wine, but it'd probably be good. I know I like red wine in my venison with mushroom gravy. 
Pour the mixture from the pan on top of the roast and then add the diced tomatoes and carrots. You could most likely skip the tomatoes if you used a chunky spaghetti sauce.
Then add your onions and zucchini.
The other alternatives revolve around the veggies. I've done this before with nothing but onion, I've seen it done with cubed potatoes, diced celery, or with all of the above.
I didn't want potatoes (didn't need another starch for supper), I had just a little more shredded zucchini in the freezer, so I put that in (yes, it is still frozen), and I don't voluntarily put celery in anything but stock and chicken soup (even then it's in big chunks so I can easily pick it out). You could use fresh zucchini and dice it, but I love slipping shredded zucchini in on the kids every chance I get. They never know it's there. :D

If you used spaghetti or pizza sauce you may not need to add any additional italian seasoning. If you used the tomato paste and diced tomatoes, you probably will. Either way, I like to wait until closer to serving time to add any additional seasonings or herbs. That way I can taste the sauce and see what I think it may need before I go adding something. If you're unsure what to do, a teaspoon of italian seasoning is a pretty safe bet.

You can either leave the veggies in chunks or you can blend the sauce to a smooth consistancy. I never blended it 'til I had an immersion blender. I just didn't think it was worth the trouble of running a couple of batches of hot liquid in the blender - well, in truth, I just don't like cleaning the blender. The immersion blender is one of the absolute best kitchen gadgets ever. The results of a blender, the clean up of a whisk. At any rate, you can serve this over pasta or you can shred the meat and put in on a hoggie type roll. I really like rolls with the crusty outside. Delicious.

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