This post is sponsored by my friends at the Kansas Beef Council (KansasBeef.org) on behalf of the Beef Checkoff, but all the opinions are all my own – just as always. Thanks for supporting the brands and organizations that support me.
There are few countertop appliances that I use more than my slow cooker. There’s just something about popping everything in there first thing in the morning and then coming home to a house filled with the smells of dinner that’s ready to eat!
And while I love using my slow cooker for a variety of things, turning a beef roast into tender perfection is probably my favorite thing to do with this kitchen workhorse. That’s why I love this recipe for Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Tomato Grits so much.
Obviously y’all know I love easy and this recipe doesn’t stray from that principle. It’s easy, the prep is quick, and even making the grits is pretty fast. You’ll probably spend less than 30 minutes prepping this meal and that makes it even better!
And then there’s the taste. This creates a slow cooker full of fork tender, beefy goodness that is probably one of my favorite comfort foods. The savory beef combined with the creamy grits and tangy tomatoes makes for the perfect bite!
On my blog, I love showing you just how easy it is to prepare a home cooked meal but I think it’s also important to learn why we do the things we do. In the end I think it makes us all better cooks. So let’s take a little journey and let me show you some of the why behind this slow cooker pot roast.
Let’s start by understanding why we use a slow cooker. Honestly, because it’s easy. The slow cooker (A.K.A CrockPot – which is a brand name of slow cooker) allows us to slow cook without much hands-on work. It’s great for turning tougher cuts of meat (which also often means cheaper) into moist tender bites. Which brings us to another question…
Why do we use a chuck roast? Tougher cuts like chuck roast and brisket are filled with connective tissue (collagen) which means they really need to cook on low for a long time to allow the collagen to melt into gelatin. Collagen makes for a tough bite. Gelatin makes for a tender, juicy bite. That’s what makes the slow cooker method perfect for this type of meat. Opting for more tender cuts of meat like filet/tenderloin will result in super tough, overcooked meat if you were to do those in the slow cooker because they should be cooked quickly and with high heat, not low and slow.
The other reason I like to use a chuck roast is it has tons of that super rich, beefy flavor I love in pot roast.
Thinking about something different? Be sure to check out this list of other cuts that also do great in the slow cooker.
Do I have to sear it first before it goes in the slow cooker? The short answer is no. But there’s a but at the end… First, let me clear up that confusion at searing meat “seals in the juices,” as you’ve probably heard. That’s just not true. And even it it was true, we’re cooking in more liquid, so it wouldn’t really be an issue here. But, what searing does do is add flavor.
When we brown meat by searing it on relatively high heat, we’re working to turn amino acids and reducing sugars into golden brown deliciousness. That chemical reaction is called the Maillard reaction. It sounds technical, but the important thing is that it’s a great way to add flavor. That said, if you’re in a hurry, you can totally skip this step and will still have a delicious supper, but the little bit of extra work is worth the effort if you’ve got the time.
My gravy always ends up too runny! One of the most common complaints that I get about slow cooker recipes is that the gravy or sauce is too thin at the end of cooking. Since we’re using a moisture rich method of cooking, it’s just what’s going to happen. The fix is super easy and works in nearly all the recipes. Simply remove the meat and or veggies to a plate or bowl and cover them to keep them warm. Then mix about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cool or cold liquid – like water or the broth you used in the recipe. What you’re making is slurry. Whisk it together really well then whisk that slurry into the liquid in the slow cooker. Cover it and turn the slow cooker on high. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the the gravy has thickened. Then add the meat and veggies back. If you do this first thing when you get home, you’ll have plenty of time for it to thicken up while you finish up the rest of the meal.
Why are you using quick grits and why are you cooking them so long??? If I’ve heard it one time, I’ve heard it a thousand times. “No self-respecting Southerner would ever use quick grits.” Hey, guess what!?!? I’m about as Southern as they come. I do respect my self. AND I use quick grits! Here’s why… When I get home and the roast is smelling super delicious, I don’t want to wait another 30 to 40 minutes for the grits to cook. Quick grits are ground a bit finer than stone ground so they cook faster, but they’re made from the same corn. That said, I always cook grits longer than the instructions on the packages say. I want smooth, creamy, tender grits – not a mouth full of gravel.
Also, keep in mind, these are quick grits, not instant grits.
So there you have it, a little more WHY than usual, but I thought this would be a grand opportunity to help you understand the reasons we do some of the things we do. As I said before, I think it makes us better cooks in the long run and helps us understand how to fix things when they go wrong.
Y’all are just going to love this recipe. And if grits aren’t your thing, you can serve this with mashed potatoes, rice, just about anything. Pro tip: The leftover beef makes a pretty incredible sandwich, too!
Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Tomato Grits
- 1 2 to 2 1/2-pound chuck roast
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 (.87-ounce) packet brown gravy mix
- 1 (1-ounce) packet au jus mix
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 (8-ounce) container sliced mushrooms
For the grits
- 5 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups quick cooking grits
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the roast and sear both sides for 5 to 8 minutes or until golden brown.
- Lightly spray the crock of a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add the roast to the crock of the slow and sprinkle the dry gravy mix and au jus mix over it. Pour the water over. Add the mushrooms. Place the lid on and cook on low for about 8 hours, or until the roast shreds easily and is fork tender.
- To make the grits, heat the water to boiling and stir in the salt. Whisk the grits into the boiling water being sure to break up any lumps. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the grits are tender to your liking. Stir in the drained tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust salt to taste.
- Serve the grits topped with the roast.
If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.
hi there i’m guessing that grits are oats porridge but what is au jus. love the sound of the recipe.Thankyou for all the wonderful recipes
Grits are ground corn and in this recipe the au jus refers to a powdered mix that you use to make au jus.
Made this as a surprise birthday-eve dinner for my husband. It was tender, delicious, flavorful, and perfect! Will definitely make again!!
Awesome! I’m glad y’all enjoyed it! Tell him we all said happy birthday!!
Okay, so I am so northern… What are quick cooking grits? In NJ I think I can purchase Quaker 5 minute grits (which didn’t get good ratings on Southern Kitchen) or Bob’s. Are Bob’s Red Mill quick cooking?
Please help. I love your blog. I love your food. And I’m making the cheesy grits (the ones you bake) you have in another recipe with this pot roast b/c I love cheese in my grits and my husband won’t eat tomatoes…. Haha.
Quaker 5 minute grits are quick cooking grits. They may not be the best, but they may be the only option. I do use those sometimes. I’m not sure about Bob’s – though I’m going to guess they aren’t quick cooking and won’t work great in this recipe because they’ll need a longer cook time and more liquid.
Good recipe I think, thank u Stacey, I’m not a very good cook – but will do my best!????
I hope it will turn out GREAT for you!
Just some food for thought as you are into a bit of the science of cooking.
I, too, love to cook roasts in my slow cooker. Also, it does “fall apart” after enough cooking. But after awhile, I began to realize that falling apart was not what I wanted in roast proteins, pork or beef.
Why? If you ponder on it for a while you realize that the falling apart roast is long and stringy because we have cooked it to the point it literally falls apart. I grew up in in the South and my mother used her magnalite pot on the stove top in the original form of slow cooking. Her roasts were always tender but it was still in a state where we could cut it across the grain, as we all were taught to do to make meat easily chewable. Plus, the left over roast placed in the fridge, the next day was easy to slice into sandwich thickness slices for delectable poboys with the left over gravy, too.
I once many decades ago read a book by a butcher. He said to take the turkey breast off the bone and slice it across the grain because it wouldn’t be tough to chew. I have done that since and everyone prefers it because you can cut the slices on your plate with a fork, they are so tender.
Well, I started using my slow cooker with a thermometer and stopped the cooking and removed the roast to a plate at the desired temperature. I found that to make the roast sliceable across the grain and, viola, I suddenly had my mother’s roasts again. Sliced as wanted, then the next day leftover roast was sliced thin for sandwiches.
So, anyway, sorry for the lengthy post. It is not criticism. It is just “food for thought”, pun intended. ????
PS, great blog!
Hi Alan! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. You know, I think it really revolves around how you were raised. In our house, fall apart roast was a good thing and we only sliced it when it didn’t have enough time to cook all the way. Regardless, I think it’s great to have both points of view represented here. Thanks for taking the time to share!
Tomato grits? Get outta here – I am going to make tomato grits tonight!! This entire meal looks delicious. I just received a copy of your cookbook, cannot wait to make many of your recipes.
I sure hope you’ll enjoy them! And thanks for getting the book! It’s very hard to come-by these days as most places are sold out.