Crockpots do make cooking easier. However, if you aren’t careful instead of a tender, juicy cut of meat, you can wind up with a mushy, flavorless mess. Here are the ways to avoid that.
The biggest mistake most people make is overcooking. You can’t put in anything, leave for work, and return 9 hours later to a nice meal. The easiest way to solve that problem is to monitor the pot. But if you must do that why even use a crockpot? Invest in a crockpot with a timer. They are more expensive, but so worth the extra money. Set the timer for 30 minutes less than the recommended time. Sitting in the warm liquid will finish cooking the meat.
The next mistake most people make is starting with the wrong cut and type of meat. Don’t cook chicken in a crockpot. No matter what anyone tells you. Don’t. People lie. Start with a cheap, fatty cut of beef. More expensive cuts fall apart. Cheap cuts become tender when cooked low and slow. Cuts such as chuck, brisket and bottom round are perfect. A bonus is that you save money. Always sear the meat before placing it in the pot. It doesn’t hold in the juices, as some believe, but it does add complex flavors and keep the meat from being gray.
Most veggies cooked in a crockpot are going to fall apart. Root veggies like carrots, potatoes, rutabagas and parsnips are good choices for slow cooking if you leave them in big hunks. Other veggies can be used for flavoring, but don’t expect to be able to serve a piece of broccoli or a mushroom that you cooked for 5 hours.
Fresh herbs become flavorless when cooked for too long. Dried herbs become muddy and bitter. The secret? Add any herbs you are going to use an hour before the dish is done.
Never add dairy or rice to a crockpot. Rice becomes a gummy mess and dairy curdles. If you are making beans, use dried beans and don’t add any salt or sugar to the pot until the beans soften, otherwise they never will.
This recipe follows the rules and is very tasty.
|Crockpot, Shredded Beef Sandwiches with Aus Jus|
Time: Cook-5 hours 30 minutes, Active time: 30 minutes, Sandwiches in about 6 hours
Hardware: knives & cutting board, measuring cups & spoons, skillet, tongs, plastic container, crock pot, strainer, saucepan, gloves, a bread knife, a baking sheet, small owls or ramkins
- 2-2 ½ pounds chuck roast
- Olive oil for the bottom of the skillet
- 2 large onions (4 cups)
- 16 ounces baby Portobello mushrooms
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 cups low sodium beef stock
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon prepared spicy mustard
- Large loaf of French bread
- 8-1 ounce slices of gouda cheese
- Horseradish sauce (I like Boar’s head)
- Salt & pepper
Remove the roast from the fridge. Pat it dry and salt liberally. Set aside. Wash and slice the onions, mushrooms and garlic.
Turn your crock pot on high. Pre-heating the crock helps cook your food evenly.
Add oil to the skillet on medium high. Add the sliced veggies and cooked until softened. This will take about 7 minutes. Place half of the veggies in the plastic container and the other half into the crock pot. Put the saved veggies in the fridge.
Turn the pan up to high. Add the roast. Sear the roast on all sides. Add the roast, Worcestershire and stock to the crock pot.
Cook on high for 5 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Don’t overcook.
At the 4th hour mark, not before, add the thyme and mustard to the juice in the pot. Test the meat for doneness. Measure the mustard before you open the lid. Complete this step as quickly as possible and replace the lid.
When the meat is ready, remove it from the pot and allow it to cool enough to handle.
While the meat is cooling, strain the liquid in the crock into the saucepan. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes.
Place the reserved veggies in the microwave and heat up for a minute or so. You just want to warm them.
Using your gloved hands, shred the beef. Discard any fat or gristle.
Pre-heat the oven to 400˚.
Slice the loaf longways, but not all the way through, like a hotdog bun. Then cut it into four individual buns. Assemble the sandwiches on the baking sheet by heaping the meat on the bread then topping the meat with some of the veggies, then topping that with two slices of cheese. Bake, open face, for 4 minutes or until the cheese melts and the bread is crispy. Generously top each sandwich with horseradish sauce and serve warm. Pour the aus jus into the small bowls and give one to each guest for dipping.