Monday, January 30, 2012

Sneaky Beef

Alley Cat by Chet Atkins
I know that Chet Atkins isn't the original artist on this song - it's Bent Fabric, who released it as a piano number in the early sixties.  I love that recording as well since I play the piano.  So why did I go with Chet?  Because it's guitar.  And it's Chet.  And that, people, is a formidable duo in my book!  Also, my father used to play this song on his guitar.  Case closed.  Why Alley Cat?  Because it's a sneaky sounding song.  I can just see that old cat slinking down an alley, seeing what mischief he can get into.  I can also see it as the perfect backdrop for a magician act - you know, lots of hand waving, "See?  Nothing up my sleeve!" paired with long pauses, and then the big flourish of pulling a rabbit, or in this case, a roast, out of your hat.  It's winter and it's the best time to pull an entire meal of sneaky comfort food out of your hat!  It's a very dramatic and satisfying end to, really, not much effort at all!

I always feel a little guilty when I serve this and get raves about how delicious it is and how I shouldn't have gone to so much trouble.  I didn't.  Hence, the sneaky label.  It's the easiest thing out there to eat - other than pouring yourself a glass of water!  If you don't already know about it, it's time you did.  Especially if you're as busy as I am - and chances are, you are!

I don't remember who shared this trick with me but I'm so glad they did!  It's been a "go-to" for ages now and, when my kids leave home and ask for something simple to make, I share it with them.  Two ingredients and a crock pot!  Oh dear, I'm almost embarrassed at how easy this is!  Here we go.

Crock Pot Roast
Printable Recipe Card
1 beef roast, I used a chuck roast
1 envelope dry onion soup mix

Yep, that's it!

Put the roast in the crock pot and sprinkle the soup mix over top.  Top with the lid.

There's no liquid, it makes its own!

Cook low and slow for 6 - 8 hours.  If you like to slice your roast, cook for less time.  At 8 hours, my preference, it just falls apart.  I had to really work to get a bit of the roast to stay together for that picture at the top!  From this point you can use it for so many things!  Add barbecue sauce to the shredded meat and you have a wonderful BBQ beef sandwich!  Add some cumin and chili powder and you have a great filling for tamales or quesadillas or tacos!  It would also be delicious with some teriyaki sauce or soy sauce  and asian spices and served with rice.  

To make the gravy, just pour the liquid from the pot into a sauce pan.  Pour 1/4 cup of cold water into a jar with a lid.  Then add 2 tablespoons of flour, put on the lid, and give it a shake!  When the liquid in the pan is at a slow boil, stir in the flour/water slurry and stir.  It will thicken right up.  Taste and add salt, if needed.  Super easy!

You might have noticed those glorious carrots on the plate.  

I was in Seattle over the weekend and stopped at Pike Place Market and found these gorgeous heirlooms and HAD to have them!  

Knowing they would be going with this roast I figured I'd have to give them a special treatment, something with bright accents to counter all the unctuous flavors of the roast and mashed potatoes.  

I gave them a strongly angled cut to create more surface area then steamed them for about 5 minutes, just until al dente.

While they were steaming I got a sauté pan ready with a tablespoon of butter, melting and swirling it around to coat the pan.  When the carrots were ready I just tipped them into the sauté pan, seasoned them with kosher salt and a bit of chopped fresh parsley and fresh dill.  I tossed them around a bit because that's what chefs do.  Perfect!


  1. That looks SO TASTY! The carrots are spectacular. YUM!

    My mom taught me the same trick when I left home, although she adds cr of mushroom soup. It's tasty but not as versatile as this in the end. I think I'm gonna have to try it this way very soon. Thanks!

    1. You're welcome, Melanie! Let me know how it goes! I have also used the recipe with cream of something soup along with the onion soup mix. I use that recipe for individual-size steaks. It's also VERY good.