Balsamic and Onion Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

 POT ROAST
I’ve tried a lot of recipes for pot roast, and too many of them start with “open a packet of xxx” – which, while it may make a really nice roast for some, is far too salty for this family.  I stumbled across this recipe for pot roast that has a gorgeous gravy and only a few ingredients (like balsamic vinegar, beef stock and tomato sauce) and lots of onions.
Personally, I won’t be doing pot roast any other way than this way, despite having a few extra pans to wash. Even my picky, picky Mikey-like 12-year-old gave this a smile and a thumbs up at the table (and the only forms of meat she typically likes is bologna and chicken nuggets, which are barely meat – and a really nicely cooked steak. She’s a tough audience.)
Seriously, this is the perfect cold weather meal, served over mashed potatoes to make use of the gorgeous gravy. Add a fresh tossed salad and some hot yeasty rolls (if you aren’t watching carbs).  This roast is divine!
 

Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast

1-1/2 – 2 medium white onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 cup beef stock (I like the Kitchen Basic’s brand – it comes in an 8.25 oz container)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3-4 pound boneless chuck roast, fat trimmed
1 tsp (ish) Onion Powder
1 tsp (ish) Garlic Powder
1 tsp (ish)) Seasoning Salt 
black pepper to taste
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup water (for deglazing pan)
1 tsp cornstarch (optional, to thicken jus)

Peel onions and cut into thick slices (you want them thick to both hold the roast and so they hold up under a long slow cook).  Add onions to the bottom of your slow cooker.
Place one (1) cup beef stock in a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup.  Let cool slightly, add balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce and mix well. Set aside.
While stock is reducing, rub meat well with seasoning salt, onion powder, garlic powder (I eyeball this, but if I had to measure, I’d say about 1 tsp of each) and black pepper. Heat heavy pan with olive oil on medium-high heat and sear roast well on all sides. 

When the meat is brown on all sides, remove the roast from the pan and nestle it on top of the onions in the slow cooker.  
De-glaze the hot cooking pan with 1/4 cup water. Add the de-glazed pan drippings to stock mixture, and then pour over your roast.
My oldest asked for carrots as well, so you have the option of thickly slicing 4-5 carrots (about 2 cups) and adding them around the roast.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until beef is tender. (7 hours was perfect for my 3-lb roast.)

Place the roast and onions on a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Now, for the yummy cooking broth:

OPTION 1: Since chuck roast is a fatty cut (and especially if you opted to NOT trim that roast as well as you should have, in the interest of time *ahem*), you will want to separate as much fat from the remaining broth as you can, pouring the de-fatted broth into a saucepan.

TIP: If you don’t have a separator, use this trick: place a gallon ziplock in a small mixing bowl, opened wide. Pour in your broth, seal the top, and holding the bag over your saucepan with one corner pointed down (keeping that bowl handy), cut off a small piece of that corner of the bag. The fat will have separated to the top of the storage bag and when the liquids are close to reaching that fat, quickly set the bag back in your bowl.

Reduce your liquid by about 1/3. The resulting broth will have more of an au jus consistency.

Personally, I prefer a more gravy-like sauce. If this is how you roll, make a slurry of cornstarch and a few tablespoons of the broth in another bowl, then add back to the saucepan and whisk until slightly thickened.

Tip: since you will end up with a good amount of gravy, sometimes I hold out some of the reduced liquid as au jus for sandwich leftovers topped with those gorgeous onions. Mmmm! Just a thought.

OPTION 2: For the “I ain’t got time for that” crowd, after removing the onions and roast to the serving tray, crank your slow cooker up to HIGH and add in the slurry of cornstarch and water, whisking until it’s thickened a bit.

I prefer option 1 but I confess to slipping to option 2 when I’m rushed (and after serving, letting the broth cool and then skimming off the separated fats for left overs. SHHHH.)

Serve sauce (however you roll) along side of the roast and cooked onions (and on top of mashed potatoes). YUM!
Pot roast
Balsamic and Onion Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 7 hours

Yield: 6-8 servings

Balsamic and Onion Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • For the broth
  • 1 cup beef stock (I like the Kitchen Basic's brand - it comes in an 8.25 oz container)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp cornstarch (optional)
  • For the Roast
  • 3-4 pound boneless chuck roast, fat trimmed
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Seasoning Salt 
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water (to deglaze pan)
    1-1/2 - 2 large onions, peeled and thickly sliced
  • Optional: 4-5 carrots

Instructions

  1. Peel onions and cut into thick slices (you want them thick to both hold the roast and so they hold up under a long slow cook).  Add onions to the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Place 1 cup beef stock in a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup.  Let cool slightly, add balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce and mix well. Set aside. Tip: for ease of prep on a busy morning, I make the stock mixture the night before and refrigerate in a sealed container.
  3. While stock is reducing, rub roast well with seasoning salt, onion powder, garlic powder (I eyeball this, but if I had to measure, I'd say about 1 tsp of each) and black pepper.
  4. Heat heavy pan with olive oil on medium-high heat and sear roast well on all sides. 
  5. Place roast on top of the onions in the slow cooker -  and then de-glaze pan with 1/4 cup water. Add the de-glazed pan drippings to stock mixture, and then pour over your roast.
  6. Optional: thickly cut carrots and arrange around the roast.
  7. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until beef is tender. (7 hours was perfect for my 3-lb roast.)
  8. Place the roast and onions on a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
  9. Now, for the yummy cooking broth:
  10. Option 1: Since chuck roast is a fatty cut (and especially if you opted to NOT trim that roast as well as you should have, in the interest of time ahem), you will want to separate as much fat from the remaining broth as you can, pouring the de-fatted broth into a saucepan. TIP: If you don't have a separator, use this trick: place a gallon ziplock in a small mixing bowl, opened wide. Pour in your broth, seal the top, and holding the bag over your saucepan with one corner pointed down (keeping that bowl handy), cut off a small piece of that corner of the bag. The fat will have separated to the top of the storage bag and when the liquids are close to reaching that fat, quickly set the bag back in your bowl.
  11. Reduce your liquid by about 1/3. Personally, I prefer a more gravy-like sauce, so make a slurry of cornstarch and a few tablespoons of the broth in another bowl, then add back to the saucepan and wisk until slightly thickened. (Note: before adding the cornstarch, the sauce has more of an au jus quality; since you will end up with a good amount of gravy, sometimes I hold out some of the cooking juices as au jus for leftover sandwiches. Just a thought.)
  12. OPTION 2: For the "I ain't got time for that" crowd, after removing the onions and roast to the serving tray, crank your slow cooker up to HIGH and add in the slurry of cornstarch and water, whisking until it's thickened a bit.
  13. I prefer option 1 but I confess to slipping to option 2 when I'm rushed (and after serving, letting the broth cool and then skimming off the separated fats for left overs. SHHHH.) 
  14. Serve sauce along side of the roast and onions (and on top of mashed potatoes). YUM!
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The balsamic and onion add such a richness to this recipe and the smell is SO good.
What’s your favorite thing to cook in a slow cooker? Share in the comment section below!

Here are a few more slow cooker recipes I think you’ll love!

Minestrone-soup

thai pork

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