A slow cooker is a convenient time-saver for a busy mom. The handy kitchen appliance can also be a money saver, as a slow cooker provides an effective way to cook tougher cuts of meat that tend to be more economical. Any type of roast is good in a slow cooker, as the meat cooks slowly, which allows the tissues to tenderize the meat to absorb the flavors.
Slow Cooker Safety
Select a roast that fills your slow cooker at least 1/2 full, but no more than 2/3 full. Avoid large roasts, as a large piece of meat requires too much time for the center of the meat to reach a safe temperature. Thaw roast beef before cooking it in the microwave, as attempting to thaw and cook a roast at slow temperatures may cause bacteria to develop. Never let a warm roast sit in the slow cooker. Cook the roast on high for the first hour to bring the meat quickly to a safe temperature of at least 140 degrees.
If you want to make a one-dish meal by cooking vegetables along with roast beef, put the vegetables in the slow cooker first, then place the roast on top. Vegetables take time to cook thoroughly, and will cook faster in the bottom of the pot. Use small potatoes, chunks of carrots, turnips or onion. Cut vegetables into uniform sizes so they finish cooking at approximately the same time. To save time, you can use frozen vegetables, but thaw the vegetables first.
A small amount of liquid is necessary if you add vegetables to your roast. Add liquid such as creamed soup, tomato paste, apple cider or coffee, or mix half a bottle of creamy peppercorn ranch dressing with an equal amount of broth. Limit liquid to about 1/2 to 3/4 cup, as the roast will render additional liquid as it cooks. Although liquid isn't as important in a roast without vegetables, a bit of liquid creates a flavorful sauce for the meat or a boiled or mashed potato side dish.
Rub the surface of the roast with the contents of a package of dried buttermilk seasoning mix and let it rest for a few minutes before you put it in the slow cooker. You can also add sprigs of dried thyme, a sprinkle of minced garlic, a dash of onion powder or a few drops of Worcestershire sauce.
Spray the inside of your slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray for easy cleanup. Unless you need to stir the ingredients or check the temperature, leave the cover on the slow cooker. Every time you lift the lid for a peek, the temperature drops and cooking time can extend as much as 30 minutes. Check the roast with a meat thermometer to be sure the meat is done. For safety's sake, cook the roast until the internal temperature of the thickest part reaches at least 160 degrees. Let the roast sit on the cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Cornell University Cooperative Extension; Slow Cooking
- Kansas State University Extension Kids a Cookin'; Beef Roast With Vegetables in a Slow Cooker
- University of Iowa: Simply Savory Slow-Cooker Meals!
- University of Minnesota Extension; Slow Cooker Food Safety; Glenyce Peterson-Vangsness; 2011
- Utah State University: Introduction to Slow Cooking
- Eating Well: Healthy Crock Pot and Slow Cooker Recipes and Tips
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