Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

slow-cooker-bolognese-dinner-is-served-coverHard to imagine a dish more worthy of Sunday Supper than a bowl of tagliatelle served with a hearty Bolognese Sauce, warm Italian bread and a bottle of red. I grew up in a non-Italian household with the quick “Americanized” version of this sauce (browned ground beef and a jar of marinara)  and not ashamed to admit I still make that version for the family when I’m pressed for time.  Simply referred to as “spaghetti,” it may not be the real deal but we all enjoy it.

This year, I have decided to go back to my Sunday Supper roots and resurrect some of the classic recipes, made from scratch with no shortcuts.   I’ve made Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce many times, but wanted to give my new slow cooker (see Equipment Notes after the recipe) a try, so made some adaptations and came up with a sauce that will comfort one and all.

Start with the holy trinity of flavor bases: onion/carrots/celery.  First chopped then finely minced (note the personalized Dinner Is Served cutting board!)slow-cooker-bolognese-dinner-is-served-3

Add a few pinches of classic Italian herbs:slow-cooker-bolognese-sauce-dinner-is-served-1

And let us just pause for a moment to admire this freshly opened bottle of Savory Spice Shop’s California Basil:slow-cooker-bolognese-dinner-is-served-2

And some best quality tomato products:slow-cooker-bolognese-dinner-is-served-4

Along with a little vino (red instead of the traditional white wine), and balsamic vinegar.  Then just let your slow cooker do all the work!  A last minute addition of creamy mascarpone cheese or cream cheese provides that extra dose of richness.

I have to say, this sauce is MADE FOR the slow cooker. The meat is incredibly tender and the sauce develops such a unique complexity. I will still approve of the “quickie” version for a busy weeknight but weekends are made for slow, old-school kind of cooking.

Until next time…be well, eat well, love lots!slow-cooker-bolognese-dinner-is-served-cover2

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound mild bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup EACH chopped onion, celery, carrots
  • 1 TBS chopped garlic
  • 1 can whole tomatoes (28 oz), preferable imported Italian San Marzano
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone or cream cheese

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add beef and sausage and cook until no longer pink. Drain through a sieve and place on a paper lined plate; set aside.

Mince the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food processor and transfer to a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Pour the whole tomatoes along with their juices into the food processor and pulse a few times until chopped.  Add to the slow cooker.  Add all the additional ingredients except for the mascarpone cheese.  Stir.  Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.  Just before serving, stir in mascarpone or cream cheese.  Serve over pasta and garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese or slivered fresh basil.

Serves 6


On Christmas Day, I was heating some cocktail meatballs and sausage in my slow cooker when my old faithful totally died.  Bummer!  I looked up my order history on Amazon and turns out the model was six years old.  Eh…not a super great lifespan, in my opinion.

I decided to go with another brand, Cuisinart, as a replacement and found this ultra cool model on It not only slow cooks, it has a heating element to brown food and a steamer insert (perfect for steaming artichokes, corn, etc.).  I love the lighter weight interior and non stick surface.  So far I am totally in love with it and fingers crossed it will make it past 6 years!cuisinart-slow-cooker





Savory Shortbread Biscuits with Parmesan Cheese and Herbs


Last weekend we spent a quiet evening with great friends and amazing food, ringing in 2017. I think for many, 2016 was a year of great challenges and I know that was certainly true in my case.  I thought about things I want to do more of this year (or less of!) and at the top of my list was sharing more recipes with you so…to start off 2017, I am presenting this recipe for savory appetizer shortbread biscuits that are so easy to make and a sheer delight to eat!

Also new to my blog: A “postscript” section after the recipe on “Equipment Notes” featuring a kitchen gadget or appliance that I have found particularly helpful in making the recipe 🙂

Now back to the biscuits.  As someone who has had their fair share of challenges with various pastry doughs, this short pastry thankfully is very forgiving and requires a handful of ingredients:

20161231_163051507_iosReally, just flour, butter, Parmesan cheese, some fresh herbs and not much else!  Combined into what at first may seem a crumbly mess but never fear!20161231_163940001_iosJust work in a little water, a little kneading and a cooling off period in the fridge and you’ve got a nice round of dense, flavorful dough which rolls out effortlessly.20161231_164335266_iosAlthough you may certainly roll the dough into a log and slice it into rounds, I much prefer using my little 1 1/2″ biscuit cutter, a souvenir of my culinary school days.biscuit-cuttersAnd one final prep tip that literally involves the tip…of your knife, to loosen each little circle of biscuit dough before placing on the sheet pan to bake. Works like a charm!20161231_175228849_ios-1Now just bake for about 23 minutes until golden. These melt in your mouth, buttery biscuits pair beautifully with any kind of wine or cocktail or along side a salad course.  They make a nice hostess gift, wrapped, and they keep well for days OR freeze for future use.

Here is to a happy healthy 2017, to good friends and memorable meals. I look forward to sharing many more recipes with you in the months to come ♥



  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 ounces finely grated Parmesan Cheese (preferably freshly grated)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon water, or more as needed
  1. Place the butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on medium-low until creamy.
  2. Add the Parmesan, salt, pepper, herbs and flour one at a time until evenly combined.
  3. Add 1 1/2 tablespoon of water and the dough will start to clump. Empty the contents of the bowl to a surface and knead lightly to form a ball, adding additional water, a few drops at a time, until the dough just comes together.
  4. Flatten the dough and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Roll the dough to 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to make small crackers, re-rolling the dough as needed.
  7. Place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for approximately 22-25 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in container. Biscuits may be stored in the freezer for up to a month.

Yields: About 40, 1 1/2″ biscuits


My single blade, carbon steel Mezzaluna (literally “half moon” in Italian) has been a prized tool in my kitchen for over 20 years. It’s gentle rocking motion and super sharp blade, make mincing herbs a breeze. Also works great for mincing garlic, onions and just about any other vegetable.  They’re also very safe to use, making it a perfect tool to introduce an older child or teen to food prep.

Mezzaluna knives are available at many online retail outlets and vary in price from very inexpensive ($7.99 for this HIC 6.75-inch Chopper) to pricey ($69.95 for Wusthof’s 9-inch Knife).  My pick would be this wooden-handle, 10-inch SCI Mezzaluna, made in Italy and available on for just $18.27.  Happy chopping!20161231_163351825_ios-1


A Special Reason to be Thankful

This Thanksgiving is extra special but not because of the food.  Special because we’re able to celebrate the holiday with my dad, who turned 94 years old in September and has gone through many health challenges this year.  We are thankful he’s home with my mom and sister and close by to me and my family.


My Thanksgiving wish to you is of course to enjoy good food, but more importantly, to take the time and realize the blessings in your life and enjoy the moment.   I know I will be doing just that.

Ann – Dinner Is Served

Thanksgiving 2016

Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup (Salmorejo)

Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup (Salmorejo) - Dinner Is Served1

I will never forget a summer a very long time ago when my husband I lived in the city in a third story walk-up condominium.  With no central air and a window unit that cooled it down to just barely above melting temperature.  We worked all day in stuffy suits and traveled to and from work in crowded buses.  Those were the days we found salvation in a neighborhood restaurant named Chardonnay.   A dark and sleek spot with marble table tops that were  cool to the touch. If felt like plunging into a swimming pool, washing away the heat and grit of the day.

The days of bus commutes, stifling suits, panty hose are long gone.  And there is no Chardonnay (the restaurant that is), but I do have this creamy chilled, no-cook soup to fulfill that need on the hottest of summer days.

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This creamy, chilled bread-thickened soup has is origins in the Southern region of Spain near Córdoba, where sun ripened tomatoes are blended with fruity olive oil, onions, garlic and day-old bread.  Traditionally topped with Spanish  Jamón and hard boiled eggs (note I took the liberty of substituting crispy pancetta for the Jamón). I also added a red bell pepper as recommended by a blogger from the region.

How much do I love this soup?  Well I recently entered it into a cooking contest at work and took second place among a group of other Spanish-themed soups.  The winner, ironically was a delicious goat meat stew which technically is African, not Spanish… But I was not about to quibble because it was truly wonderful

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Cannot think of a better way to cool off and enjoy the best summer has to offer. Enjoy!

Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup (Salmorejo) - DInner Is Served2

Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup (Salmorejo)

3 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

8 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes, cored, halved, and seeded

1 small red bell pepper, seeded, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 dense baguette (about 10 oz.), cut into large pieces (see Note>)

12 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped

¾-1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 tbsp. sherry vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

12 cups finely chopped pancetta, sautéed until crispy

Freshly chopped chives (optional)


Place salt, tomatoes, pepper, garlic, bread, and onion in a bowl, cover with boiling water, and let sit for 1 hour. Drain vegetables, reserving 1 cup soaking liquid; place in blender. Squeeze water from bread; place about ¾ of the bread in blender with reserved soaking liquid, oil, and vinegar. Purée until smooth. If soup seems to thin, add the extra bread. Add additional olive oil to enrich soup, if desired. Season with salt and pepper, and chill. Pour into chilled serving bowls; top with eggs, pancetta, chives and a drizzle of oil.

Serves 8

Note> Bread can be either fresh or a day old.  Just make sure it is a dense bread so that it can soak up the liquid without falling apart.

Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup (Salmorejo) - DInner Is Served3


Slow Cooker Short Ribs with Chipotle Rub & Dark Beer

Braised Short Ribs Dinner Is Served

I know, it’s grill season.  Trust me, we suffered through a winter-like spring here in the Midwest so yes, bring on summer!  Bring on the charcoal and smoking chips!  Put away that slow cooker!

Well….hold on just a minute.

As tempted as I am to stow away the slow cooker in favor of my Weber kettle, I think about this recipe and decide it’s not QUITE time to give the crock pot the summer off. After all, who doesn’t love tender, slow cooked beef on a tortilla with fresh guac and a slushy margarita. THAT…is summer to me.

This recipe was inspired by a not-so-ordinary gift from my son. After visiting a friend in the city, he arrived home with a 3# package of thinly sliced short ribs (the perks of having a friend whose parents own a grocery store)  These are the sort of gifts I love!  And I admit a bit of a challenge, this one.Flanken Short Ribs

Never before had I seen short ribs sliced in this manner. On to Google, and discovered this to be a “flanken” cut, often used in Korean cuisine.  Yep, a first for me.

Expert meat people instructed that this cut should be cooked quickly over high heat, but for some reason I chickened out on that whole approach.  I thought back to an Italian-inspired braised short rib ragu recipe I made a while back. So tender with  a concentrated beef flavor. This time, though, I was feeling more Southwest flavors. I had zero time to tend to braising, so into the slow cooker they went along with a smoky, spicy chipotle rub, some onions and a cup of dark Mexican beer.  Beer Braised Chipotle Short Ribs - DInner Is Served3.jpg

Now to tweak the original recipe.  The flanken ribs had great flavor but not enough meat for this purpose, so the first substitute was traditional English cut ribs.  The chipotle rub was amazing…no changes there.Beer Braised Chipotle Short Ribs - DInner Is Served4

If you don’t cook a lot, I understand the reluctance to keep this many spices on hand.  In that case, look for a good-quality chile/Southwestern seasoning blend like this Mesa Rosa Chipotle Seasoning blend from Urban Accents.  Otherwise, this recipe is incredibly simple. Just slice an onion, brown the seasoned ribs and throw it into the slow cooker with a cup of Negro Modelo.

Low and slow all day, the slow cooker is made for dishes like this.  Tender, with intense beef flavor and complex spices, this meat can go just about anywhere. My creation: served “burrito” style with a flour tortilla, yellow rice, a spoonful of Ann’s Essential Guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

The possibilities are truly endless.  Use this amazing flavorful meat as the star of your nacho platter, or on tostada shells or even serve atop some creamy polenta and topped with stewed tomatoes for a comfort food kind of dinner. Check out other recipe notes and tips following the recipe and a bonus: my recipe for Ann’s Essential Guacamole.

Enjoy summer cooking low and slow my friends. This one’s a keeper!

PicMonkey Collage

~Slow Cooker Short Ribs with Chipotle Rub and Dark Beer~

3 1/2-4# Beef short ribs, English cut (see recipe notes)

Chipotle Rub

  • 1/2 tablespoon ground red chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoons paprika (smoked paprika if available)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (Mexican oregano if available)
  • 1/4 tsp teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups sliced white or yellow onion

1 cup dark beer, preferably Negro Modelo

Canola or vegetable oil for browning

For Serving

Combine Chipotle Rub ingredients together and store until ready to use.

Place ribs in a large bowl and combine with enough of the seasoning mix to coat, tossing well.  Let stand at room temperature approximately 30 minutes.

Heat a thin film of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add ribs and brown on all sides.  Remove to a platter.

Place sliced onions in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Top with browned ribs.  Pour beer over all.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, remove ribs and onions to a rimmed cutting board.  Shred meat using forks and place in a bowl.  Strain cooking liquid and skim fat from the top (a good quality fat separator is perfect for this!)

Add some of the degreased cooking liquid to the meat and toss.  Place a large spoonful of yellow rice on a tortilla.  Top with warm shredded beef, guacamole, then sour cream and cilantro.  Squeeze some fresh lime over all and serve.

Serves 6-8


  • If your grocery store does not carry beef short ribs, the next best thing would be a bone-in chuck roast.  In a pinch, a boneless chuck roast will do just fine!
  • If early morning browning of the meat is not feasible, you can skip this step but…I would recommend coating the meat in the seasoning mix the night before to kick up the flavor.
  • If you don’t have  these spices on hand, grab a good all-purpose seasoning like Urban Accent’s Mesa Rosa Chipotle Seasoning or any other Southwestern-inspired blend. Just keep an eye on salt contents of blends and adjust salt as necessary.


Ann’s Essential Guacamole


Ann's Essential Guac - DInner Is ServedThis post is going to be fairly short since it’s a tandem recipe to another one I will be posting later today or tomorrow.  Bottom line though, it that guacamole is something everyone should at least try making from scratch. You’ll realize how easy it is to make and how FAR superior it is to any pre-packaged guac you buy at the grocery store.

Another advantage is that you can make it YOUR way.  You control the ingredients, the creaminess (or not), the amount of spice (or none).  There is really only one ingredient that’s a must: avocados.  The rest of the add-ins are up to you. Here are the ones I love:Ann's Essential Guac - DInner Is Served2

And since I like just a hint of spice, I add some Cholula Hot Sauce, starting with about 1/2 tsp and adding a little more, drop by drop, until it’s just right.

One final note before I jump right in. Finding avocados that are just the perfect ripeness is important.  Bright green, rock hard ones just won’t work. On the flip side, mushy and overripe ones will just make your guacamole mushy and sad.  Look for medium-ripe avocados, that yield just a bit, when pressed.


Ann’s Essential Guacamole

  • 3 medium ripe avocados
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 a white or red onion, diced (or you can use about 1/3 cup chopped green onions)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 small lines (about 1-2 TBS)
  • Cholula hot sauce
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Remove pit from avocados and scoop insides out into a large bowl along with the lime juice.  Mash with a fork (or a potato masher works), until desired consistency.  I prefer somewhat smooth, but with small pieces of solid avocado in act.  Gently fold in tomatoes, onions and cilantro along with about 1/2 tsp of the hot sauce, a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Taste for seasonings, adding additional hot sauce, lime juice or salt and pepper if desired.

Place in a glass or plastic container and place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the guacamole, pressing down to ensure no air bubbles (this step helps it keep it’s beautiful green color).  Refrigerate for about 1 hour before serving.


Pork, Pepper & Pineapple Skewers with Hoisin Glaze

Pork, Pepper & Pineapple Skewers (5).jpgWhat an evil tease.  This Spring in the Midwest. March was so winter-like, the season was dubbed “sprinter” (spring + winter). April we fared a little better, although I still recall having to wear my parka on occasion so not completely out of the woods.

Now, finally a string of nice days in Chicagoland, so I am officially kicking off grill season!  And what better way to usher in the warmer weather than these beautiful and easy pork, pepper and pineapple skewers.  A family favorite at the Dinner Is Served household.Pork, Pepper & Pineapple Skewers (4)

This classic combo always makes me think tropics..luau..grab an umbrella drink and sing Don Ho tunes.  With lean pork tenderloin, pineapple and colorful peppers, it also wins in the healthy, low-fat category.Pork, Pepper & Pineapple Skewers (6)

Perhaps the best part of these skewers, however is the hoisin glaze which is a ridiculously easy combination of ketchup, hoisin and minced jalapeno peppers.  If you’re a fan of of Moo-Shu pork, you’re already well acquainted with hoisin: a most versatile, thick, soy-based Asian condiment. This serves as both a glaze and a dipping saucePork, Pepper & Pineapple Skewers (2)

A few notes before I jump right in to the recipe:

  • You can definitely substitute chicken for the pork! My preference would be to use boneless skinless thigh meat. Breast meat works too but will cook more quickly.
  • You’ll note I did not add onions to my skewers. They remain a “no go” with the young adult crowd in my house but by all means feel free add some red onion wedges as you please.
  • Gluten-free hoisin can be used, making this a 100% gluten-free entree

Happy (FINALLY) Spring to one and all from Dinner Is ServedPork, Pepper and Pineapple Skewers with Hoisin Glaze - Dinner Is Served

Pork, Pepper & Pineapple Skewers with Hoisin Glaze*

  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/2#), trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 large sweet bell peppers, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • About 1/2 of a fresh pineapple, cored and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium red onion cut into wedges (optional)
  • Canola oil
  • Salt and coarse ground black pepper

Hoisin Glaze and Sauce

  • 1/3 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 TBS minced jalapeno pepper (or spicy pepper of your choice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl.  Set aside about half for dipping and the other half for glazing.  (can be prepared up to two days ahead and refrigerated)

For skewers, toss the pork in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste.  In a separate bowl, combine peppers with a drizzle of canola oil, tossing to coat.

Thread pork, peppers, pineapple and onion (if using) onto metal or wooden skewers. Sear on a hot grill for a few minutes per side. Then move to medium heat; brush with a little of the glaze and continue to grill (turning and glazing a few more times) until pork is cooked through (about 15-20 minutes in total) and peppers and pineapple are slightly charred.

Serve with jasmine rice and  reserved hoisin sauce for dipping.

Serves 4

* Adapted from Big Flavors of the Hot Sun, Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, 1994.




A Few of my Favorite Things 4-7-16

Sometimes it’s nice to take a step back from recipes and blogging and just share some recent food finds. Products that I love, or my kiddos love or make my crazed life a little easier.  Today’s finds come from a store with a never ending supply of cool stuff: Trader Joe’s.

First up is a wine that we absolutely fell in love with for Easter. In fact after just one sipped my husband remarked “Go buy a case of this!”  When I told him it was just $7.99/bottle, he said “Buy TWO cases!”  Indeed, I am very tempted to do this since wines at TJ’s tend to come and go (ie. Chariot).

IMG_0330 (1)


This chenin blanc from the Loire Valley is all sorts of floral and crisp with honey and pear tones. It was a perfect pair with our Easter ham. And the label remarks that it also pairs well with spicy or Indian food, which is quite a feat!  Perfect for patio sipping this summer so yes, if you spot it at Trader Joe’s or anywhere else get it while it’s hot!

Trader Joe's Asparagus Risotto

Of course Trader Joe’s is well known for their convenience foods and this Asparagus Risotto is a shining example of how they do convenience so well. In fact I will go out on a limb here and state it’s darned near as good as risotto made from scratch (which we all know is a labor of total culinary love).

This risotto has that perfect “bite” to the texture, yet creamy. I love the asparagus too, fresh and crisp, which is not what you would expect in a frozen meal. Cooks up in minutes in the microwave and makes a perfect meatless, meal. Or a nice side dish served with just about anything. And coincidentally, pairs very nicely with the Vouvray 😉

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Something that does not probably pair well with any wine but is nevertheless over-the-top addicting: TJ’s Sriracha Potato Chips. Something I got for the teens and of course ended up practically licking the crumbs from the inside of the bag, they were so good.

I know some feel that Sriracha has overstayed its welcome in our world, along with kale, quinoa and chia seeds. Fine, well let me just state that I hope these chips never go away.  Or maybe they should go away because I need to stay away from chips. Ahhhh the torture!

Bottom line though is that these potato chips have just the right amount of smoky heat to please the palate. The lattice cut keeps them crisp and ready for dipping although I prefer them as is. Preferably by the handful or bag full.Mango Iced Tea

Last but not least let me please put in a plug for Trader Joe’s Mango Green Tea. We’ve been big fans of their Mango Lemonade and Mango Black Tea, so not a surprise, the mango green tea is fantastic as well!

LOVE that this has just 12g of sugar per serving (compare to 26g of sugar in Arizona “Mucho Mango” Tea).   Since I am not keen on soda, this is a great alternative for the family and the teens love it.

More favorite things to come but for now, the paying job calls.  Until next time, my friends.  Eat well!



Celebrating 600+ Likes and a Giveaway!

DIS 600 Likes

I am celebrating breaking  600 “likes” on my Facebook page today. As a thank you to all who support me, I am doing a little giveaway here and also on my Facebook page.  The winner gets to choose between a $20 gift card for Penzeys Spices OR my most favorite grill accessory: Steve Raichlen’s Beer Can Chicken Rack.

To enter just leave a comment here or on my Facebook page and let me know which prize you would choose and why. Deadline for entering is next Monday, April 4th at 5:00pm

And last but not least share Dinner Is Served with friends and family.  Next stop: 700!!


Dinner Is Served

Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garlic and Rosemary

Pot Roast CoverThings that cause amateur food bloggers to fall off the wagon:

  • Full time job
  • Being a parent
  • Being a wrestling (or fill-in-the-blank sport) parent
  • winter/dark at 5:00/NO GOOD NATURAL LIGHT FOR PHOTOS!

Indeed a perfect storm of all the above have caused me to take a brief hiatus from blogging. But trust all is well, and slowly but surely I am getting back into the swing of things in the kitchen. Dusting off my faithful slow cooker and ready to share with you this  slow cooker pot roast recipe that I more or less pulled out of my hat last week.

A few years back, I was introduced  to Three Envelope Slow Cooker Pot Roast which is quite possibly THE easiest slow cooker recipe in the history of slow cookery.  My Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garlic and Rosemary is a version of that roast. In place of the “three envelopes” I’ve chosen just one envelope of Knorr Au Jus Gravy, enhanced with a little tomato paste. I then piled on the vegetables because, well,  who wants to come home after a busy day and fuss with more food prep!?Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast 1

Because this is a “classic” pot roast, I stuck to the basics: carrots, onions, parsnips and potatoes. The vegetables take on a wonderful flavor after cooking low and slow all day long.

Flavor enhancements are a must! I like to rub my chuck roast with a simple savory rub comprised of salt, pepper, granulated onion and garlic. All pantry staples!Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast 3

And finally to top it off, fresh rosemary and chopped fresh garlic. If rosemary is a deal breaker for you, fresh thyme makes an excellent substitute.Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast 5

Last but not least, check out my Time Saving Tips at the end of the recipe, with “make ahead” suggestions and product recommendations. Enjoy and happy cooking!

Pot Roast Cover 2

Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garlic and Rosemary

1 2 ½-3 pound boneless chuck roast

1 tsp Kosher salt

½ tsp each: pepper, granulated onion and granulated garlic

1 tsp olive oil

1 packet Knorr Au Jus Gravy

1 ½ cups water

1 tsp tomato paste

1 cup sliced sweet onion, about 1/2 of a large

1 # red skinned potatoes (about 4 large), scrubbed and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces

2 cups peeled and coarsely chopped carrots

1  to 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped parsnips, about one medium

1 TBS chopped fresh garlic

5-6 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 TBS cornstarch

1 TBS red wine or water

Chopped fresh chives (optional)

Combine salt, pepper and granulated onion and garlic in a small bowl to blend. Pat chuck roast dry with a paper towel and sprinkle spice blend all over roast.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil until shimmering.  Brown roast on both sides until well browned, about five minutes per side.

While roast is browning, combine au jus mix and water, whisking to combine.  Add tomato paste and whisk.

Place onions, a few rosemary sprigs and bay leaf on the bottom of a slow cooker. Place browned roast on top.  Scatter carrots, potatoes and parsnips around roast.  Pour au jus gravy mix on and around roast. Scatter chopped garlic on top and place remaining rosemary sprigs on top.

Cook on low for at least 8 hours or up to 9 ½ hours.

Using a large slotted spoon or strainer, carefully remove roast and vegetables to a platter (make sure all rosemary stalks and bay leaf are removed). Tent with foil to keep warm.  Strain and de-grease liquid and transfer to a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Whisk cornstarch and wine in a small bowl, then whisk into gravy.  Continue to simmer until slightly thickened, about five minutes.  Add additional salt and pepper to the gravy if necessary.

Break apart roast using a fork.  Sprinkle chives over all and serve with hot gravy.

Serves 4-5


  • Onions, garlic, carrots and parsnips can all be chopped the night before. Just store in a zipper bag in the fridge
  • Peeled baby carrots can be used in place of whole carrots
  • The seasoning mix and gravy can both be mixed the night before. Store seasonings at room temperature and refrigerate the gravy.
  • Tired of throwing away unused tomato paste from a can? Try Savory Spice Shop’s Tomato Powder. Just dilute with water to whip up a little paste or sauce.  Keeps well in the fridge for months, so you can have quick tomato paste on hand whenever you need it!
  • While you’re checking out the Savory Spice Shop site, try a bottle of their Onion & Garlic Tableside Sprinkle. You can use 1 tsp of the blend in place of the granulated onion and garlic in this recipe. It’s salt free, so also a great way to add a dash of flavor for those on sodium restricted diets!

Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garlic & Rosemary - Dinner Is Served