• Allow plenty of time to brown the meat; browning adds tremendous flavor and visual appeal to the finished dish.
• Don't add too much liquid or all the flavors will be diluted.
• Use the low setting to keep the cooking gentle.
• Don't set it and forget it; too long in the slow cooker yields dry, stringy meat.
• Work ahead so there's time to skim the fat before serving. I like to refrigerate the pot roast or stews overnight, then scrape off any solidified fat and reheat the whole thing very gently on the stovetop (in my copper brazier) to serve.
- 1 trimmed boneless beef chuck roast, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
- 1/2 Teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 10 to 12 Ounces uncooked Italian sausage, mild or hot (or a combination), removed from casing
- 1 large (12 ounces) red onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes with basil
- 1/2 Cup red wine
- 2 Anaheim or poblano chiles, or 1 large green bell pepper, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 Cup thickly sliced mushrooms, such as cremini
- 1/2 Teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 Teaspoon fennel seed, optional
- 1 large bunch (about 12 ounces) fresh spinach leaves, ends trimmed, well rinsed, patted dry
- Cooked pasta for serving
- Flat-leaf parsley sprigs
Pat beef dry.
Season on all sides with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Brown beef in the oil until well browned on both sides, 10 to12 minutes total.
Transfer meat to the slow cooker.
Add sausage and onion to skillet.
Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until browned, about 10 minutes.
Drain off excess fat.
Stir in tomatoes, wine, chilies, mushrooms, oregano and fennel.
Pour over beef in slow cooker.
Cook on low until beef is fork-tender, about eight hours. (You can use the high setting for four hours, but the beef won't be quite as tender).
(If working in advance, the cooked dish can be refrigerate covered up to two days. Skim off solidified fat; reheat gently in a large saucepan on low heat.)
Carefully remove roast to a serving platter; tent with foil.
Skim off fat from pan juices.
Taste and season with salt, if necessary.
Stir spinach into hot pan juices to wilt it slightly.
Serve roast thinly sliced over the pasta.
Top beef slices and pasta with tomato and spinach mixture.
Garnish with parsley sprigs.