I’m a master procrastinator. All weekend I knew I was going to make a roast for lunches this week. And all weekend I procrastinated taking it out of my freezer. I have so much stuff in my freezer, it’s hard to find what I want. The funny thing is when I finally went down to the freezer, at 10PM on Sunday, the roasts were right there on the top. However, it wasn’t a bad thing. I got to read up on how to cook frozen roasts (which led me to my recipe – which DOESN’T contain onion soup mix!), and how to defrost quickly when your roast doesn’t fit into your crockpot when it’s frozen solid. So, everyone gets to share in the joy!
Here come the meat sweats!
So, where do we start? I like to start at the beginning.
First, here’s the recipe that inspired my recipe. The only problem is this recipe had a lot of maintenance. And I wanted to sleep (or go to work) while my roast cooked. So, I combined the steps, and eliminated a lot of stuff. I was very happy with the results.
Second, what are the recommended ways to defrost a roast?
- Put it in the fridge for a day, like a responsible. But how many of us are responsible adults? I’d say I remember to (or don’t knowingly procrastinate) defrost meat about 50% of the time. So what do you do the other 50%?
- You can soak the roast (sealed in a zip lock) in cool water. I have a hard time getting frozen meat in a Ziploc to stay under water, so sometimes I let cool water run over the meat. Total waste of water, but it gets the job done in a pinch. Flip the meat every 15 or so minutes.
- You can soak the meat in warm water (or do the same technique where the water’s running over it. Replace the water as it cools. Flip the meat more often, maybe every five minutes. Don’t use hot water, it’ll start cooking the meat.
- Defrost in the microwave. I have a defrost button, but if you don’t, do 30-40% power, flipping every 3-5 minutes, being careful not to cook.
I used the fourth, and least recommended, option. I told the microwave the beef was three pounds, and it told me it would take 27 minutes. I just wanted to thaw it enough that it would slide into the crockpot. So I ended up thawing for about 12 minutes, and flipped about four times. At that point, the edges were thawed enough to give me flexibility to fit in the crockpot sideways. After I cooked everything on high for two hours, I was able to lay the roast flat, under the liquid (with the vegetables on top).
OK, about my seasonings. First, I’ve made roast before where you stick the roast with veggies in the crockpot. With or without liquid (some people say about an inch of water, others say no liquid because the meat produces some). I had some homemade broth (recipe soon, I promise!), so I wanted to use that. And after the success of my St. Louis BBQ steaks (sorry I keep dropping reference to them!), I realized low and slow under liquid is the way to go. One time I didn’t submerge the steaks, and the ones that weren’t submerged were dry and tough. No thanks.
And I felt like stuff like alcohol or vinegar help break down the meat some so it’s extra fantastic. So that was my motivation with this one: Find a recipe that uses alcohol, and submerge the roast.
I also didn’t want to use onion soup mix because it has weird ingredients in it. I didn’t really want to mess with substitution onion soup mix ingredients. So instead, I went away from it totally. I liked that this recipe used Worcestershire sauce, and added some apple cider vinegar for good measure. I also knew I wanted to avoid peppers of any kind (food intolerance, not flavor issue), but wanted to add turmeric (one of my favorite meat spices) and cumin (for smoky flavor).
This is what I ended up with:
Crockpot Whiskey Roast
- 1 beef chuck roast (frozen is OK)
- 1 large onion, cut in quarters
- 6 small red potatoes, whole, peeled
- 2 stalks celery, cut in half
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 2 bay leaves, whole
- 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
- 1 ½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp cumin
- 2 ½ cups broth/stock
- 1/3 cup bourbon or whiskey (I used Crown Royal)
Directions: Put the roast in the bottom of the crockpot. Add vegetables and spices. Pour broth/stock* and whiskey/bourbon over.
Here’s the meat in the crockpot sideways. There just wasn’t enough wiggle room while the roast was mostly frozen to lay it flat on the bottom. I cooked it this way for 2 hours on high, then moved the veggies to one side, and laid the roast flat on the bottom. The roast was completely submerged in the broth/whiskey/apple cider vinegar liquid. The vegetables were on top of the roast.
Cook for 6-9 hours on low**. The roast should be falling apart when you take it out (but feel free to check for done-ness with a meat thermometer, if you’d like).
I remove the meat from the crockpot with tongs and remove the fat. Not because fat is bad on grass-fed beef, but because I don’t prefer the texture. I’m not a stickler on removing all of it, and if you like it, feel free to leave it. When you have conventional beef, the omega 6s are really high in the fat, so if you are using conventional beef, you might want to consider removing the fat regardless.
I only serve the meat, potatoes and carrots. I toss the celery, which I was only using for flavor.
Pro tip: When you put everything in your slow cooker, think about how many servings it will make, and adjust the veggies you put in accordingly. I wanted to get four servings out of my roast, so I made six red potatoes (1 1/2 potatoes per serving). And I put in eight baby carrots, because that’s all I had. Normally I’d put in more.
You can make a quick gravy with the broth and some type of thickener (like corn starch or flour). Make a paste out of some of the broth and corn starch. If the broth isn’t already boiling, bring to a boil, and slowly add the corn starch paste. Whisk until thickened.
A few notes:
*I read if you put a frozen roast in a crockpot, you should warm the water or broth and pour it over the roast. So I did warm my broth in the microwave until it was boiling and poured over. I’m not sure what difference this makes, other than maybe to speed the thawing process.
**If your roast is frozen, you’ll probably be on the higher end of the cooking time. If it’s thawed, I think six hours is likely good, depending on the size and thickness of the roast. I ended up cooking my roast on high for two hours because it was so frozen and I couldn’t get it to lay flat in the bottom of my crockpot, and I wanted it submerged under the liquid. I ended up cooking for about 7 ½ hours total (2 on high, 5 ½ on low). You could cook on high for a few hours if you’ll be around and want it to cook faster, but I think at least part of the cooking process low and slow is important for a roast.
22-OCT-2013 – Author’s note: I made this recipe again, this time with a roast labeled “pot roast.” Again, I put it in frozen. And again, it came out delicious. But this time I had a crisis of faith. After almost 7 hours (last time it cooked for about 7 1/2, and this roast seemed smaller), the temp was over 190 degrees and the roast was tough. Really tough. Miserably tough. I decided I was committed and wouldn’t eat the roast this way anyway, so I left it in, on low for another five hours. Yes, five hours. It came out delicious. I’ve read that you have to cook long enough for the connective tissue to break down. Apparently this roast came from a very stubborn cow. ;) Anyway, if your roast doesn’t fall apart when you take it out, commit to the cause, and put it back in. Let it cook long enough to be what a roast is meant to be: fall apart, juicy and delicious. Otherwise, what’s the point? I’m NOT one of those people who will eat bland food just because it’s food. I enjoy cooking. And enjoy eating more. Here’s to the roasts of winter future!