I love my slow cooker. I just love coming home after a long day at work, and dinner is (for the most part) already made, because I've got a yummy stew or soup cooking in the slow cooker. Add a salad or some biscuits, and the meal is done. But you know what? As great as a slow cooker can be for those harried weeknights, it's just as great for weekends. Specifically, Sundays. Sunday is actually my favorite day to pull out the slow cooker. Why? Because I try to make Sunday a day where I get to do a few things that I want to do, whether that's scrapbooking, having lunch with a girlfriend, or doing a little shopping. With dinner all ready in the slow cooker, I don't have to worry about how long that girlfriend lunch lasts, or whether I have time to look at new blinds at Home Depot. I just love the freedom that my "Slow Cooker Sundays" (as I've come to think of them) give me. The concept holds, even if you don't do anything more strenuous on Sunday than rifle through the Sunday newspaper in your pajamas.
So what could be better than a delicious meal from the slow cooker? Well, how about TWO meals? Yep, for this great recipe, you only have to cook once, and you end up with two hearty meals that your family will love: Cola Pot Roast and BBQ Beef Sandwiches. If I make this pot roast on a Sunday, I've got an easy, quick dinner in hand for a busy, upcoming weeknight. Oh, that's the Cola Pot Roast in the picture above, ready to be served. Yum. It's super easy, too.
Cola Pot Roast
1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
1 cup Coke
1 packet fajita seasoning mix
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 cup chopped celery
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 lbs. beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat
2 T. vegetable oil
In a large bowl, break up tomatoes in their juice. Stir in Coke, seasoning mix, onion, garlic, celery, and salt. Stir until seasonings are dissolved. In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, brown meat in oil about 10 minutes on each side. Drain off all fat. Transfer meat to slow cooker. Pour tomato mixture over meat. Cover, and cook on low for 8 hours, or until meat is fork tender.
Now. Because I am my mother's daughter, I always serve a pot roast like this with mashed potatoes and sliced carrots. I don't know why, but those two side dishes are just perfect with this beefy main dish. Oh, and, not to worry if your kids won't eat the tomatoes, onions and other goodies that the roast is cooked with. We'll make good use of those in our follow-up recipe.
One other thing. This recipe, which I adapted just a bit from Allrecipes.com, originally called for an envelope of "spaghetti sauce mix." Now, I don't know exactly what that is, because I couldn't find it at my store. When I Googled it, what I found sounded pretty much like seasoning mixtures that you'd use in spaghetti sauce. I decided to substitute an envelope of fajita seasoning, and the roast came out great. So, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you can use fajita seasoning, spaghetti sauce mix if you can find it, or any other seasoning mix that strikes your fancy.
After your family has eaten their fill, put the remainder of the pot roast in a large fridge-safe container. Fish out all of goodies that the roast was cooked in (the yummy bits of tomato, celery and onion) and place them in the container with the roast. Then, add a few ladle-fulls of the cooking liquid. Cover and pop the whole thing in your refrigerator for a few days. Then, when you need a quick weeknight meal, you're all set to make BBQ Beef Sandwiches. That's the picture right below.
BBQ Beef Sandwiches
Take the leftover pot roast out of the fridge. Any fat remaining from the sauce will have congealed, and you'll easily be able to spoon it out. With the roast on a cutting board, pull the meat apart with two forks. Place into a saucepan or a small slow cooker (such as a two quart size). Chop up any large chunks of tomato or other vegetables that you saved along with the pot roast, then add all of the vegetables and sauce into the saucepan or slow cooker with the beef. (Note: the broth or sauce may be somewhat thick. Don't worry -- all will be well once everything heats up.) Now add about half a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, or more, depending on how much beef you have left, and how saucy you like your sandwiches. Stir everything together and heat over medium low heat on the stovetop until heated through (this will probably take 20 minutes or so, and you'll need to stir it a few times). Alternatively, you can heat everything up in your small slow cooker for a few hours on the low setting. When it's ready, stir a few times and serve on hearty buns or hoagie rolls. I like to make skilled fried potatoes and a simple vegetable with these sandwiches, but coleslaw from the deli is another great option when you're really pressed for time.
That's it. One recipe, two hearty, delicious dinners. Why not make this coming Sunday "Slow Cooker Sunday" at your house, too?