I’ll admit that I have an unreasonable relationship with coffee. It’s my sidekick. Coffee wakes me every morning. It keeps my fingers warm while I clutch my mug, wishing this old house had better insulation. Coffee keeps me company while I write. It wakes my sleepy head up early everyday and occasionally gives me a sweet iced pick me up in the afternoon. A tall cup of joe is a great excuse to loaf around a cozy coffeehouse with my sweetheart and a newspaper, and then buy the little guys fancy hot chocolate. It’s a great companion in the car (so long as your car dancing does not spill it) and a welcome distraction when you need to wander from your desk and be off task for a few. Coffee can accompany whipped cream, add ooomph to your chocolate cake, flavor ice cream, and braise beef.
Yep. It’s awesome. And it’s also my scapegoat.
I don’t need a lecture on the perils of caffeine dependency. We all have our vices. But coffee does tend to provide me with a most reasonable explanation for my sometimes out of turn behavior. Not paying attention? Not enough coffee. Talking too much? Too much coffee. I have a short fuse. I blame the coffee.
Chad and I made a quick run to the grocery store the other night. Just a milk, eggs, cereal kinda thing. It wasn’t crowded and we wove our way from the produce towards the dairy department with ease. Let’s discuss grocery store etiquette for a minute. In my world, you walk like you drive: stay to the right. If you have to walk in front of a person that’s scanning a shelf for something, you say excuse me. If you need to peruse cans of green beans but someone else beat you to it, you mind your personal space and wait your turn. If there is a woman eyeballing the shelves for healthy cereal that doesn’t break the bank and you need the corn syrup laden discount bag of garbage that’s behind her, you need to refer to rules 2 (say excuse me) and 3 (mind your personal space and wait your turn). You do not lean in behind her and her boyfriend, reaching your arm past BOTH of them like you’re leaning in for a group hug and grab your crap without saying a word. Because that woman WILL freak out on you. And then she will blame the coffee.
I make no apologies. We made it out of the grocery store unscathed, my mood greatly improved by the woman dressed as a pirate that I spied shopping the deli. Chad says he would still love me if I dressed like a pirate. And he totally tolerates it when my coffee withdrawal inspires me to loudly correct rude strangers in the grocery store. Maybe it’s because I make a mean pot roast.
But maybe not.
Heat a little oil and sprinkle all sides of a 3 or 4 pound beef chuck roast with coarse ground black pepper and kosher salt. Over medium high heat, brown all sides of the roast and then remove it to your slow cooker. Saute onions in the drippings left in the pan until they are golden brown. Then add garlic, thyme, a little kosher salt, more coarse ground black pepper and onion powder.
Add coffee and balsalmic vinegar and then bring it all to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a minute. Then add all of it to the slow cooker with the beef roast.
Add potatoes if you like, and then cover and cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. Halfway through tuck carrots and celery in with the roast, recover and continue cooking.
When the roast and vegetables are done, remove them to a plate for serving and ladle the drippings into a saucepan. Skim the fat off the top and over medium heat wisk in the cornstarch (you can add a little of the broth in a cup and mix it with the cornstarch until it’s smooth to keep the lumps out of your gravy- then pour this into the remaining drippings on the stovetop).
Coffee Braised Slow Cooker Pot Roast
A 3-4 pound beef chuck roast
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste (I’m partial to freshly ground or coarse)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 onions, very coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 cup strong coffee
2 tablespoons balsalmic vinegar
3 cups of potatoes, cut into “two-bite” size pieces
3 stalks of celery, trimmed and cut into sticks
7 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season all sides of the beef chuck roast with the kosher salt and coarse ground pepper and then brown it in the skillet. Remove it to the slow cooker. Add the onions to the skillet and saute until soft and golden. Then add the garlic, thyme, kosher salt, onion powder, and black pepper. Cook for another couple of minutes and then por in the coffee and balsalmic vinegar. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for another minute and then empty the contents of the skillet into the slow cooker. If you are using potatoes, add them now. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or low for 7-8 hours. In the middle of cooking, add the carrots and celery. When the roast is done remove it to a plate. Ladle the drippings into a saucepan and wisk in the cornstarch until it’s thickened over medium heat. Serve the roast with the gravy.
And have coffee after dinner.
Recipe adapted from Eating Well.