Come and get your meat and potatoes

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Use your slow cooker to prepare a tender, savory pot roast filled with vegetables. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times
Use your slow cooker to prepare a tender, savory pot roast filled with vegetables. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times

Every now and then, I crave pot roast. Tender pieces of beef with chunks of potatoes, onions and carrots all drenched in a savory gravy.

I love it, my family loves it, and it’s so simple to make in the slow cooker.

At the beginning of the year, I said I wanted to highlight some basic, easy dishes this year, and pot roast is one that should be in your recipe box if you cook for a meat and potatoes family.

I’ve made different versions of this recipe over the years, but this is the one I always go back to. I first shared it in my column in 2006 and have made it many times over the years.

I either make it with a chuck roast or bottom round — in the 3-pound range. A little more or a little less is fine. I tend to buy the largest option at the store on shopping day to accommodate the beef-lovers in the family.

To satisfy the vegetable-lovers, I use plenty of potatoes. Potatoes are a favorite at my house. I choose either red or Yukon Gold cut in big chunks. When I made this a few weeks ago, I purchased small Yukon Gold potatoes (creamers) that didn’t have to be peeled or cut. So easy! Any combination of small or “new” potatoes should work. I usually cut up a peeled sweet potato for my roast, but I didn’t have one for the recent meal.

For the carrots, I’ve used both whole carrots, scraped and cut in chunks, and baby carrots — another shortcut.

I’ve let this recipe cook overnight so we can eat it for Sunday lunch, and I’ve cooked it during the day to eat after work. In that scenario, I try to do as much prep work as I can the night before. If you use the creamers, all you have to do is wash them and brush or cut out any spots you don’t like! Same with the baby carrots. Cut the onion in advance, and you’ll have very little to do in the morning.

The last time I made this roast, I didn’t add the dry onion soup mix because the box of soup mixes in my pantry had expired a year earlier. Sigh. I figured the roast would be just fine without it.

My beef-loving granddaughter gobbled up the beef and even ate a few veggies. My husband and I thought the roast was very good, but we both agreed it’s much better with the onion soup mix.

Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

2 to 3 lb. chuck roast, beef bottom round or other cut of beef

1 can cream of mushroom soup (low-fat, low-sodium)

1/2 cup beef broth (low-fat, low-sodium)

1/2 envelope Lipton onion soup mix*

One medium onion, cut into slices

2 to 3 carrots, sliced into chunks or a cup or so of baby carrots

4 to 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges or chunks or whole small potatoes, washed (I used several cups — about a pound — of Yukon Gold creamers; sorry, I didn’t measure)

1/2 to 1 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (optional)

Place chuck roast into slow cooker. Place carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes around beef. Top with onions. Mix soup, soup mix and beef broth and pour over roast.

Cook 8 to 9 hours on low. Once the beef is cooked, remove it from slow cooker and wrap loosely in foil. Leave lid off cooker and let gravy simmer on high to thicken; it won’t take long. (I omitted this step when I made it last.) You can also slide the lid to the side in the last 30-45 minutes of cooking, allowing steam to escape; that also thickens the gravy.

* I roll up the envelope with the leftover soup mix, tape it closed, put it in a sandwich bag and keep it in the freezer for the next roast.

Lisa Boykin Batts