I love my slow cooker. It saves me SO much time in the kitchen by allowing me to cook in bulk to either eat from for several days in a row or portion and freeze for later. One-pot-meals in the slow cooker sure are great, but sometimes I just don't want to eat the same thing in a row for several days. So, I got the idea to start cooking up my roasts with a bare minimum of additional ingredients, or sometimes, with nothing extra at all, so that the meat can be used in a wide range of different final dishes. Since the meat is minimally seasoned, I can reheat it in any number of recipes, using whatever ingredients I happen to have on hand. Monday night can be a stir-fry with broccoli, bok choy, green beans, and ginger with coconut aminos or tamari and maybe a splash of sesame oil, and Tuesday can be a hearty tomato sauce-based dish with lots of herbs and maybe some extra garlic and onion, plus peppers and mushrooms.
You get the idea!
A trick I use to get more offal into my diet: for beef roasts, I add beef heart to the slow cooker, with up to 50% of the meat by weight in the crock being heart (but usually I keep it more like 25-33%). Beef heart, especially grass-fed beef heart (which is what I recommend you stick to), has a wonderful, deep, husky flavor, and really adds to the complexity of the flavor of the meat. However, it can also be pungent (that's the best word I can use to describe it), and verge on being overpowering. If you're new to heart, I'd suggest limiting the proportion at first (maybe 1 lb of heart and a 5 lb roast). If you put a roast and heart in the slow cooker at the same time, when they finish cooking, the roast will be falling-apart tender and easily shredded with just a fork, but the heart will be firmer, although still very tender, and I usually need to use a knife to help me get it into smaller pieces that blend well with the shredded roast. You can slow cook heart long enough that it shreds easily, and now I have forgotten how many hours I cooked it to get that result, but it was a looooong time. I actually really enjoy the different textures that result when you cook the roast and heart for the same amount of time.
Why should you be eating beef heart? That's worthy of a post all on its own, but in short, like other organ meats, it is VERY nutrient dense. It is a rich source of B vitamins, selenium, iron, zinc, copper phosphorus, and the big one, co-enzyme Q10, a powerful antioxidant that is present in almost every cell in your body, and is used by your cells to generate energy in the form of ATP. Beef heart is one of the most concentrated sources of CoQ10 of any food.
From the University of Maryland Medical Center, CoQ10 is also indicated to help treat or prevent: heart failure, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart damage from chemotherapy, heart surgery, periodontal disease, and given after a heart attack it may prevent further heart attacks. See a theme? Eating heart is good for your heart! There's something to the old adage to "eat what ails you".
I cooked up a chuck roast myself this weekend, and took some photos for a quick tutorial. I had carrots and onion that needed to be cooked, so I included those, along with a few cloves of garlic for good measure.
I kept the carrot pieces fairly large so I could easily pick them out of the pot after cooking finished. We ended up eating the carrots as a side dish, and the leftover meat was just that: meat (with the remnants of the slow cooked onions & garlic, of course. But those things REALLY cook down in the slow cooker. Sometimes I discard the onions after many hours of slow cooking).
Can't forget good salt! (Celtic sea salt pictured)
Arrange your veggies (if using any) in the bottom of the crock.
Put your hunk 'o meat on top, and sprinkle on a generous amount of salt. I also added some water and a splash of apple cider vinegar, so that there was some liquid covering the bottom of the crock. If using no veggies, you'll need enough cooking liquid to cover about half of the roast.
Turn on your slow cooker. In this case, since I was home and my roast was frozen solid, I started the roast on high and left it for about 2.5 hours, then switched to low for about another 4 hours.
You'll have to adjust the cooking time on your roast depending on: type of roast, how many pounds of meat you've got, what veggies you may have added, and if your roast is frozen vs thawed. I've left plenty of roasts in the slow cooker on low all day (started just before going to work) and come home to an amazing, tender meal. I wouldn't do that for a small, thawed roast with no veggies, though. You can also always add extra liquid--like water, apple cider vinegar, or bone broth--if you need to leave your roast cooking for 8-9+ hours, if you're letting it cook while you're at work or overnight while you're sleeping.
Another thing you can do: drain the liquid left after cooking and freeze to use as broth in other recipes. I like to use pint canning jars, but be sure to leave an inch or so of space at the top to account for the liquid expansion when it freezes.
What's your favorite slow cooker roast recipe? Favorite slow cooker one-pot meal recipe?