Quick! You Have One Hour . . .
To do ANYTHING you want – what do you do?
a) Rob a bank
b) Take a nap
c) Read a book while soaking in a hot bath with a glass of wine
d) Absolutely nothing!
e) Get a massage
f) Make dinner, scrape pans, sweep the floor and collapse in a heap on the couch
If You Chose “F” Do Not . . .
I repeat, do not read this post! The paragraphs below are meant to get you OUT of the kitchen and BACK TO those things you promised yourself you’d make more time for: a night out with friends, yoga – heck, maybe just a shower. If this does not interest you, please exit via the little red “x” in the top left corner.
[looks around] Okay, now that we’re alone I have a confession: I love to cook, but I don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. If you feel the same way, here are two secret weapons for cooking from scratch in a fraction of the time.
Secret Weapon #1: The No-Thaw Pot Roast
We all know crock pots save a ton of hands-on time, but they often require a lot of planning: remembering to thaw meat + shopping for ingredients + getting up early enough to chop/dice/sear/etc.
High five if you are always that organized, but I’m not! That’s why this roast is different. Though there is a searing option, I’ve created a recipe that I can throw together in a matter of minutes without planning ahead. If you’ve wondered how to cook a frozen roast without thawing, this recipe is for you.
Secret Weapon #2: Freezer Cooking
On days I get home late and slap my keys on the counter with no idea what’s for dinner, I opt for pre-prepared ingredients from my freezer. For example, I can quickly thaw some cooked, shredded chicken to burritos, a chicken salad, soup, paleo quesadillas, or stir fry.
Freezer cooking is one of my favorite ways to simplify weeknight meals, but it can feel intimidating when you’re first getting started. If you’ve ever wondered which foods can be frozen or needed tips for getting started, you may find my Freezer Cooking 101 Guide helpful.
Ranch-Style No-Thaw Roast
This is a from-scratch adaptation of this “To Die For” pot roast which has been hailed around the web as one of the most delightful combinations of flavors every thrown into a pot and ignored for hours. I agree!
- 3-4 pound chuck, arm or rump roast (where to buy 100% grass fed beef)
- 1 cup water or broth
- 1 batch ranch seasoning mix (about 7 tablespoons – see recipe below)
- 1 batch Italian seasoning mix (3 tablespoons + 3/4 teaspoon – see recipe below)
- onions, carrots, potatoes, etc. as desired
- 2-4 tablespoons flour or arrowroot powder for making gravy (optional)
- coconut oil, ghee, tallow or lard for browning, optional (here to buy pastured lard, how to render your own lard)
- A sprig of fresh herbs if you have them (I added rosemary)
Ranch Seasoning Mix:
- 3 tablespoons dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Italian Seasoning Mix:
- 1 tablespoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried celery leaves
1. Though this step is optional, I recommend browning the roast to seal in it’s natural flavor and juices before placing it in the crock pot. Here’s how:
A. Place your roast in a bowl of warm to hot water for 10 minutes to slightly thaw the outside, flipping once to make sure each side is submerged. While you’re waiting to move on to the next step, measure your spices into a bowl.
B. To brown, warm 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil/ghee/tallow/lard in a pan over medium/high heat. Place roast in the pan and cook on all sides until the exterior is nice and brown.
C. If desired, you can build the complexity of this dish’s flavor by tossing your veggies in to caramelize before adding them to the crock pot. Onions and carrots are delicious this way. Potatoes, not so much
2. Place any veggies you want to include (onions, carrots, potatoes, etc) into the crock pot, then add the roast. Pour one cup of broth/water around the roast. Sprinkle seasoning over the top and cover. (NOTE: Herbs lose some of their flavor when left in a crock pot for several hours. This recipe compensates by using more herbs to that the flavor is well-distributed throughout the roast. However, you can just as easily add them at the very end of the cooking process. Start with half of what the recipe calls for and then increase as desired. You may want to add some additional salt since it’s included in the seasoning mix and you’re not using the full amount.)
3. Set to high and cook for 5-6 hours, or low and cook for 8-10 hours, or until meat is tender. Add spices if you haven’t already.
4. When the roast is ready, make gravy using one of these two methods – I use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch. Add salt if desired.
Is It Safe To Cook Frozen Meat In A Crock Pot?
Before I wrap up this post, I want to mention that there is a lot of conflicting advice on the web about whether it’s safe to cook frozen meat in a crock pot. Some say it will cause the meat to stay too long at a temperature which promotes bacteria growth. However, the manufacturer of the Crock Pot brand of slow cooker has issued an official statement, saying it’s fine if you follow these guidelines:
- Add at least 1 cup of warm liquid to the stoneware before placing meat in the stoneware.
Do not preheat the slow cooker.
Cook recipes containing frozen meats for an additional 4 to 6 hours on Low, or an additional 2 hours on High.
However, if you’d like the peace of mind that comes with knowing the roast has reached the recommended temperature, use a meat thermometer to measure when the roast has reached 150-155F. Because the internal temperature will continue to rise while it rests it will reach the recommended temperature of 160F.