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Blade Roast, Slow Cooker, No Stock or Wine

I've just thrown a 4lb blade roast seasoned with just black pepper, in my slow cooker with some diced thick streaky bacon (needed using up), mushrooms, diced carrots, diced celery and a few peeled spuds. I'm kind of tired of the usual pot roast and I feel like cooking the meat in a fairly generic way so I can use leftovers in different ways afterwards. (e.g. burritos) I can always puree some of the veg and make up a sauce with some stock later.

Is there any reason why I shouldn't cook the roast like this without searing, and without liquid? As it's a fairly sinuous fatty cut, it won't dry out will it? I'm thinking it might be good if cooked on low for a very long time.

Any thoughts?

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  1. I would probably add about a cup of plain old water. It should provide a fair amount of liquid (although the bulk of it may be fat) that you can skim off after cooking.

    When I make a blade pot roast I just do onions, carrots, celery, garlic and water - no stock or wine, etc. Then you can use up the meat any old way.

    1. When I do pork shoulder I only use about a quarter cup of liquid. I feel like that just adds something wetness until the meat starts pumping it out :) It sounds to me, however, that you're not making something "generic." With all those vegetables, it still sounds like pot roast or beef stew. I usually go the Latino route myself.

      3 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        Yes, you're right. It's still on the pot-roastish side, but leaves my options open enough. I think I buckled under the pressure of deciding and just threw it all in. I can't always cook exactly what I want. I have 2 small children who tend to prefer their ingredients (at least the ones they can see on their plates) separate-ish rather than mixed up, and are for the most part not keen on strong spicy flavours.

        I have discovered that any dishes made with hamburger meat, are always better made with leftovers from a roast. Chilli-con-carne, ragu, burritos... I made a chilli a while ago with the fattier parts (chopped) from a prime rib roast, and it was really good. I won't touch store-bought hamburger meat anymore. I'm always disappointed. If I want to make hamburgers I'll have the butcher grind up a blade roast for me.

        What Latino dishes do you make with this type of cut?

        1. re: Richard Goulstone

          If you like your meat well done, soft and shred-able, this method is not for you....but if you want to retain some flavor and make more of a sliced steak option for things like salads, sandwiches or wraps, then consider low and slow dry roasting in the oven. I like mine medium-rare temperature, but it's still pretty good at medium-well too.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7572...

          1. re: Richard Goulstone

            Mostly tacos. I can get freshly made corn tortillas, good Mexican cheeses, etc.

            I usually rub the meat with various 'powders' and sear well on all sides. Into the slow cooker, add chopped onion, whole peeled garlic, jalapenos and poblanos and a quarter cup of tequila. 'Course your small children might not like that.

        2. A little off-topic, but...

          If you cut the two main muscles off the slab of gristle that runs down the middle of a blade roast, you've got a couple of decent-sized flatiron steaks. It's one of my favorite cuts - tender, beefy, and delicious.

          4 Replies
            1. re: c oliver

              Grill, broil, pan-fry - any hot dry method works great.

            2. re: alanbarnes

              That's what they call flatiron steak, if memory serves.

              As regards the OP's situation, the vegetables will exude plenty of liquid but nothing makes up for the missed opportunity to sear the meat first. Chopped vegetables can be used to deglaze the searing pan, and will pick up flavor themselves by the brief browning action. A quarter cup or so of water is optional and will speed the deglazing.

              1. re: alanbarnes

                I haven't seen a blade roast in these parts for years. Unless I can get a local producer to have his processor cut something special, I'm left with (mostly boneless) cuts of meat.

              2. Dark Ale works great!

                1. Yep. @greygarious is spot on. There was so much liquid from the veg that it just made a kind of watery pot roast. I tossed out everything but the meat. The meat itself was very forgiving. It seemed like it might be dry at first, but when cooked up with a different sauce, it loosened up, had that good fall apart texture and a good meaty flavour. Had some excellent burritos with it tonight.

                  Next time I think I'll either commit to one dish or another form the outset, or I'll slow dry roast the the meat as suggested by @fourunder. If I slow dry roast I think leftovers will still lend themselves to burritos, ragu etc. I'll have to try flatiron steak too.

                  I'm glad I did this experiment anyway. Sometimes you have to break the conventions to appreciate the difference they make. Blade is an excellent cut. Versatile, flavoursome, meaty, forgiving. Thanks for all your replies.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Richard Goulstone

                    What a shame that you discarded the liquid! You could have used it for soup, or boiled it down in a saucepan until the flavor intensified, then thickened it into gravy.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      Actually I still have it. I liquidized it to try and make a half-decent gravy, but I think it's not rescuable. I have a lot of it. It's not so wonderful. I find not so wonderful soups and sauces just seem to take up freezer space. My dog won't be as fussy as me though. :-)

                      1. re: Richard Goulstone

                        Oh, I see you did not use garlic and onion. No wonder it doesn't taste like much. Brown some of both, add to the liquid. Boil it down - a LOT - until you like the taste. If it still needs something, a splash of soy sauce works wonders.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          I did use garlic and onion. Nothing was browned though as what's the point in using a slow cooker if you can't just throw it all in? You can't put the ceramic slow cooker pot on the heat, so you have to use another pot, and by that stage you may as well put the pot you used to brown in the oven on low rather than lose all the tasty scrapings off the bottom.

                          This seems to me to be the main drawback of the slow cooker. Incidentally I see America's Test Kitchen have a new slow cooker book out. Might be worth a look.

                          No point boiling the sauce down. It's already very thick from all the pureed veg. I also added a beef stock cube to try to improve the flavour. It has a dull bacon flavour which throws everything off. Sometimes you gotta quit while you're ahead.

                          1. re: Richard Goulstone

                            I always season and brown the meat first. Slow cooking doesn't mean effortless cooking. The more you do before putting in the SC, the more benefit you'll get at the end. After searing, I can deglaze with my liquid of choice. I use both a very slow oven at times and the slow cooker at times.

                            I'm guessing that "cube" added a ton of salt flavor but I wonder where the bacon flavor came from. Yep, I agree. Time to quit even if you're not ahead :) Better luck next time.

                    2. re: Richard Goulstone

                      Cooks Illustrated's technique is to wrap the vegetables in a foil packet and set it on top of the meat. It keeps it from cooking to mush......