Update December 2016: This post was updated to include additional instructions for making this recipe in a pressure cooker.
Slow-Cooker, Crock Pot, call them what you like. They can be incredibly convenient at times. Other times, they're rather unpredictable and in my opinion, can yield a rather uninteresting texture to the recipe. When everything comes out the exact same consistency, the flavor and texture can be somewhat lackluster.
I rarely post (or make) slow-cooker recipes for the following reasons:
1. I usually only use my slow-cooker to keep things warm when bringing them to a party or whatnot (i.e. macaroni and cheese, dips, soups, etc.).
2. I am averse to the "Crock Pot Culture", if you will, of dumping a can of this and a can of that and a bag of this and a packet of that into the slow-cooker and then just letting it cook into submission. You can do better than that! And for much less money, less artificial chemicals, less preservatives, less sodium, using just a little more effort.
3. I genuinely love to cook. I like standing in my kitchen and taking the time to make a meal. I don't typically crave the convenience that slow cookers can bring.
I have found that to achieve really successful recipes from a slow-cooker, you need to do three things (specifically in regards to meat recipes):
1. Use REAL food. Fresh vegetables, herbs, and fresh poultry or meat. Use low-sodium broth and adjust seasoning as needed. Allow the flavors of the ingredients to do the work, not the extra sodium from cans of stuff.
2. Brown the meat in a skillet on the stove first. This caramelizes the outside, imparting flavor and will allow it to cook properly without collapsing into a mess partway through cooking time. Your meat will be deliciously tender, but still look like meat, not baby food.
3. Make the sauce in a pan on the stove from the juices in the slow-cooker at the end of the cook time. This way you have a properly seasoned and reduced/thickened sauce, as opposed to just the liquid from the bottom of the slow-cooker.
In other words- stove top, then slow-cooker, then stove top again. Believe me. It makes all the difference in the world. No one will ever know it was made in a slow-cooker. They'll think you've been slaving over the oven all day.
This recipe for Slow-Cooker Roast Beef with Red Wine Sauce will surely not disappoint!
Pressure Cooker Method:
Pressure Cooker Roast Beef with Red Wine Sauce
3-4 pound boneless beef roast (chuck works well in a pressure cooker, I don't recommend lean cuts like sirloin)
2 tablespoons oil
3 large carrots,peeled and chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery ribs,chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry red wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
pinch of ground cloves
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch
-Pat the meat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
-Heat oil in the pot of an electric pressure cooker turned to the sauté setting. Add the beef and cook until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove to a covered plate and set aside.
-Add carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the pot and sauté for several minutes until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant, stirring frequently.
-Slowly pour in the red wine, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen up any browned bits. Continue simmering for a few minutes, then add thyme, bay leaf, cloves, and beef broth.
-Return beef to pot. Lock pressure cooker lid in place and set to HIGH pressure for 90 minutes, followed by natural release. (On an Instant Pot, press 'cancel' at the end of the cooking time to turn off the 'keep warm' function, then allow to release naturally. This takes about 15 minutes.)
-After pressure has released naturally, remove the lid. Remove the beef to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm.
-Pour liquid from pot through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. (There will be about 4 cups of liquid.) Discard veggies and return liquid to the pot. Turn the pressure cooker back to the sauté function and bring liquid to a simmer.
-In a small bowl, dissolve corn starch into ¼ cup of cooking liquid and add to the pot, stirring almost constantly.
-Continue simmering until sauce has reduced by half and has thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
-Thinly slice the roast beef and top with red wine sauce. Serve immediately.
**Note on pressure cooking time: Roast will be "done" in as little as 45 minutes, but sometimes can still be a bit tough. Cooking for the full 90 minutes results in a falling-apart tender roast. I have had good results with 45 minutes though. I recommend slicing if you're doing 45 minutes, as it won't be quite tender enough to pull apart.