One of my favorite memories growing up was getting ready for church on Sunday mornings while smelling Mom's preparations for our Sunday Dinner. It seemed an expected thing for her and many other church-going cooks to get up early on Sunday mornings to get the pot roast in the oven before going to church. I remember many comments throughout a minister's sermon warning the congregation to forget about the pot roast and consider the impending judgment of God on their lack of attention. I wonder how many church-going cooks truly enjoyed Sunday services without worrying about the roast burning ... or the impending judgment.
A good roast beef dinner (on any day other than Sunday!) is like a quilt ... cozy and comforting. The fragrance as it cooks tempts you to nibble on it before it is ready and makes you impatient to scoop up some mashed potatoes to go with it. With all that temptation and impatience, I feel more "impending judgment" coming my way!
I'm not sure why, but all day Tuesday, I was so hungry and all I could think about was Cracker Barrel's Roast Beef Dinner. I commented to that effect on Facebook and garnered two "likes", 24 comments, and three invitations to dinner. For the record, I've taken a raincheck on those invitations!
My brother-in-law said, "If you don't have Cracker Barrel, where do you go to get that kind of food?" Well ... I make it myself. Thankfully, between my mom and two grandmothers, I have a bit of good Southern cooking heritage!
Yesterday (Wednesday), I put the roast in the crockpot about noon and the prospect of dinner teased us all afternoon. We made mashed potatoes, whole baby carrots kissed with a little butter, and sweet peas. I even made biscuits. All I will say is that Cracker Barrel has some competition in the roast beef dinner department ... AND roast beef tastes almost as good on Wednesday as it does on Sunday. :)
My Best Roast Beef … (and a Killer Gravy!) - [Keep scrolling to the bottom of the post for the downloadable, printable recipe.]
- 1 (3-3 ½) pound beef chuck roast (Trim some fat, if desired.)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning
- 1 yellow onion, cut in half and sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, smashed and the skins discarded
- ½-¾ cup red wine
- 4-5 twigs of thyme
Season the beef chuck roast generously with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Heat a Dutch oven, or a deep skillet, over medium-high heat. When it is heated, add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, then gently put the beef chuck roast in. Allow to brown evenly, about 5-7 minutes. When the meat lifts easily from the pan, turn it over to brown the other side.
When it is browned on both sides, lift it into a crockpot. Add the onions and garlic to the Dutch oven or deep skillet. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for 7-10 minutes until the onions are translucent and have absorbed some of the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Carefully pour the wine into the pot and stir to get all of the browned bits scraped up. Turn off the heat and pour the wine and onion mixture onto the beef chuck roast in the crockpot. Add the twigs of thyme.
NOTE: It will seem that there isn’t enough liquid with just that bit of wine, but as it cooks, the meat will release its own juices and you’ll end up with a roast covered in concentrated juice enough to make a killer gravy! No matter how much you want to, DON’T add beef broth or water!!
Cover the crockpot and turn on high. Let cook for at least 6 hours. You can turn it to the low setting after 4 hours, if desired, but it isn’t necessary.
To make the Killer Gravy: Ladle the “meat juice” from the crockpot through a strainer into a medium saucepan (about 1 ½-2 cups). In a small bowl, coffee cup, or Pyrex measuring cup, measure 2 Tablespoons of flour. Add 2 Tablespoons of the “meat juice”. Whisk together. Turn the heat to medium/medium-high, then pour in the flour/”meat juice” mixture while whisking. Keep whisking/stirring until it thickens. If it doesn’t thicken as much as you want, mix a bit more four and water to add. If it thickens too much, add a bit more “meat juice”. Et voilá … Killer Gravy.