Have you ever noticed that as things change in life – like when the weather of one season gives way to another, your thoughts drift back to other times and similar experiences? As a warm summer fades into the orange hues of autumn, we fondly recall romps through piles of leaves as children. It’s just nature’s way to keep us from freaking out – when we see lightning zip across a dark sky, we know it’s lightning, having seen it before. Or a meteor shower will conger up memories of laying in the back yard, gazing up into the night’s sky and wishing as children do on a falling star.
Here in California, we’ve enjoyed rainy days of late. Sure, we are still in a drought – it’s going to take more than a few rain storms to make up for all those years without much rain. Yet, as I looked outside the other day at the rain coming down and the wind blowing everything sideways, I could not help but to smile. I was carried back to a BIG storm, during our summer-long visit to the Philippines so long ago. As American-Filipino children raised State Side, we had never heard of a typhoon much less lived through one. Typhoons can be scary – especially for those familiar with the punch a typhoon is capable of delivering. But as a child, all you understand is the moment. And at the moment, the winds were incredible. Howling. Things flying through the air. It was amazing to Brother Dear and I. We were not afraid – we were mesmerized by its power.
Brother Dear was more than just my kid brother. He was a buddy, and my partner in crime when we were children. Looking back now, it’s amazing we managed to see adulthood in one piece. Do you remember the Walt Disney film, ‘Mary Poppins’? That film had been released the year before, and the thing that fascinated us most was her ability to “float” with just an umbrella. It was magical. Brother Dear and I had no magical powers, yet we so wanted to float through the air just like Mary Poppins. Brother Dear reasoned that we could somehow “harness” the power of Mother Nature’s typhoon winds to “float” just like Mary Poppins. We decided to help a little – by starting out high and simply floating gently to the ground. With umbrellas in hand, we rushed up the stairs of our Lola’s house (grandmother) to the second floor balcony. Together, we climbed up onto the railing and precariously balanced ourselves. We smiled at one another, sure we were about to have the thrill of a lifetime. One-two-three – umbrellas opened, we stepped off. I am here to tell you that you cannot float with just an umbrella – even during a typhoon. The umbrellas promptly turned in-side-out and down we went like led balloons, crashing through the shrubs and heavy tropical vegetation as we headed straight to the ground. We landed scraped and bruised but not broken.
What does this have to do with today’s recipe? Absolutely nothing. It’s just a memory of my wonderful little brother I wanted to share. I love him and I miss him – my partner in crime. I think he might have enjoyed this rendition of a Chuck Roast with gravy. I’d like to believe he’s looking down from heaven, shaking his head and saying “So now you’re making something I’d eat.”
Crock Pot Roast Beef with Brown Gravy
Crock Pot Chuck Roast
1 Chuck Roast; 2- to 3-pound beef roast
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (I tend to be heavy on the pepper)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 10.75-ounce can Beef Broth
1 packet Brown Gravy mix
In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Season beef roast liberally with salt and pepper. Add beef roast and sear on all sides until caramelized. Add to the bottom of a Crock pot.
To same pot, add remaining tablespoon of butter, and onions. Cook until onions are soft and just beginning to brown. Stir in garlic and cook and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in beef broth and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release browned bits.
Remove from heat, whisk in Brown Gravy Mix until blended. Pour beefy onion mixture over the meat in Crock pot.
Cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours, until meat begins to fall apart.
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons flour
1/1/2 Cups Meat juices
To make gravy, remove 1 1/2 cup of drippings from crock pot. If there isn’t enough liquid in the pot, add more beef stock to achieve the required amount. Set aside
In a saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat until just beginning to foam. Stir in flour, one tablespoon at a time and cook, stirring constantly to create a roux. Flour mixture should cook for about 5 minutes to get rid of that floury taste. It’s okay to let roux become a rich, golden color. If it begins to scorch, reduce or remove from heat to prevent roux from burning.
In a slow, steady stream, add cooking liquid. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, one at a time, waiting for the first tablespoon to incorporate into the gravy before adding second. Stir and let it simmer until the desired thickness is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
To serve: Place roast beef on a serving platter. Pour a little gravy down the center, and serve remaining gravy in a boat to be used as desired.