My French Pot Roast—in the Slow Cooker

French slow cooker recipes, anyone? Here’s one of my favorites: French Pot-au-Feu  / French Pot Roast in the Slow Cooker.

My Recipe for French Pot Roast in the Slow Cooker

My Recipe for French Pot Roast in the Slow Cooker

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I love my braising pans. But what about the slow cooker? Truth is, I’m very selective about what I’ll cook in one; too often, everything just turns into an indistinct muddle.

Yet there are some dishes that do beautifully in this appliance. Pot-au-Feu (or French pot roast) is one of them.

First, a definition: Pot au feu, or pot on the fire, is a dish made simply by simmering beef (usually a cut from the shoulder, such as a chuck roast) with vegetables until it’s done. Generally, the resulting broth is served as a first course; then, the meat and vegetables are served as a second course.

Truth be told, the basic pot-au-feu can be simple to a fault. That’s why I’ve flavored-up my version with two great braising ingredients: wine and herbes de Provence. I also use touch of balsamic vinegar to deepen the sauce. (Yes, French women use balsamic vinegar, too. Why wouldn’t they?). And instead of serving the braising liquid as a first-course soup, I turned it into a sauce….and a wonderful sauce it is!

Here are a few highlights of making my French pot roast….if you want the full recipes, simply head to the bottom of the page.

1. Get the best cut for a pot roast. I used a boneless beef chuck (shoulder) pot roast. I also really love the 7-bone roast or a chuck arm pot roast. These three roasts may be used interchangeably. Get 2 to 3 pounds.

First, buy a beautiful piece of chuck roast. I got mine from Whole Foods. Isn't she lovely?

I got mine from Whole Foods. Isn’t she lovely?

2. Get Your Aromatics in Line: Don’t you love the word “aromatics”? I swiped that from Molly Stevens, the queen of braising. She uses it to refer to the good things that go into the braising liquid to give the roast its unique flavor. (See my thoughts on her book, plus a great recipe from it.)

You'll need: Salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1 onion, 4garlic cloves, red wine, and beef broth 1tablespoon balsamic vinegar 1teaspoon dried herb de Provence, crushed

You’ll need: Salt and pepper, a couple carrots, an onion, four cloves of garlic, balsamic vinegar, and herbes de Provence

3. Brown the roast on all sides. If you have a traditional ceramic slow cooker, you’ll need to do this in a deep skillet and transfer it to a slow-cooker. But if you have a slow-cooker with a browning setting, just do that in the cooker.

This is why I love the Cuisinart Slow Cooker: You can brown the roast in the cooker itself.

This is why I love the Cuisinart 3-in-1 4-Quart Cooker: You can brown the roast in the cooker itself.

4. After you’ve sauted the onions/carrots/garlic and added the herbs and liquids, return the meat to the cooker and cook on low for 8 hours OR on high for 5 hours.

A word about the Cuisinart 3-in-1 4-Quart Cooker. I love the way it will switch to a “warm” setting after the cook-time is done. That means if you’re out and about, the cooker will keep the roast at food-safe (and ready to eat) temperatures until dinner. No more overcooking the meat!

Cuisinart Slow Cooker

Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cooker. It’s changed my slow-cooking life.

 

MY FRENCH POT ROAST—in the Slow Cooker

(Serves 4 to 6)

1 (2-to 3 -pound) boneless beef chuck pot roast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if needed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small carrots, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2  cup red wine
1/4 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried herb de Provence, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons flour
Pureed potatoes, Any-Night Baked Rice, or cooked noodles

1. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides in the hot oil a deep skillet (or in the Cuisinart 3-in-1 4-Quart Cooker—I set mine at 375° when browning). Transfer the meat to a plate.

2. Reduce the heat to medium. If the pan is dry, add another tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and carrot; cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes; add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Add the wine, beef broth, Balsamic vinegar, and herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil, stirring to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. (If doing this step on the stovetop, pour the liquid into the cooker at this point.)

3. Place the browned meat in the cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours OR on high for 5 hours or until the meat is tender.

4. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and cover with foil to keep warm. Set the cooker on 375° (or transfer the cooking liquids to a clean saucepan). Work the butter into the flour to form a paste (a beurre manié). Bring the liquid to boil; whisk in the beurre manié bit by bit until sauce is as thick as you like. Serve sauce with meat.

PS: If you’re interested in the Cuisinart Cuisinart 3-In-1 Cook Central 4-Quart Slow Cooker, here’s an Amazon affiliate link. I just noticed that it’s on sale today (11/5/2014) for $116—it’s regularly $240. (Once you get to the page, click on the 4-quart option–in my view, it’s the best size for most families.)

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