By Whitney Miller
Fall for me is a time to slow down and enjoy the changing of seasons. Lush greens transition into vibrant burnt orange and crimson red. Breezy, cool nights call for outdoor activities including bonfires, corn hole and pumpkin picking. The cooler temperatures also have me craving warm, comfort foods such as stews, chilis and soups.
When I want more time to spend with my family and less time spent in the kitchen, I pull out my slow cooker. All I have to do is the prep work and it cooks my meals for me. One of my favorite slow cooker recipes, pot roast, gets a makeover. This is not your grandmother’s pot roast. By cutting a large chuck roast into individual roasts, it cuts down the cooking time and gives an appearance of short ribs. The roasts can be served over mashed potatoes, rice or grits. My favorite being my creamy Pumpkin Parmesan Grits.
A slow cooker isn’t the only slow cooking device. My other favorite slow cooking method is sous vide. With sous vide cooking, it cooks vegetables, meats, etc., at their perfect temperature. A pro for novice cooks is that you can not overcook your food. This is a pro for experienced cooks too especially if you are a mom like me and can get distracted.
Have fun experimenting with sous vide cooking and enjoy my caramel apple “pie” recipe!
Individual Braised Beef Roast with Pumpkin Parmesan Grits
1 ½ Tablespoons coconut or canola oil
2-pound chuck roast
1 Tablespoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon fine ground black pepper
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 ¼ cups beef stock
Pumpkin Parmesan Grits (see recipe below)
Preheat a slow cooker on low heat.
Cut the chuck roast in three equal portions. Using kitchen twine, tie a piece around each portion to hold their rectangle shape. Season each chuck roast with the salt and pepper.
Heat the 1 Tablespoon oil in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chuck roasts to the skillet. Brown all sides of the roasts and then transfer to the slow cooker.
Reduce the heat of the skillet to medium heat. Add the onion and celery. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
Add in the sun-dried tomato, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and beef stock to the slow cooker.
Add the cooked vegetables.
Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
Transfer the roasts to a plate. Strain the sauce over a wire mesh strainer into a large bowl. Pressing the vegetables against the strainer to extract as much sauce as possible. Spoon the top layer of fat off from the sauce.
To serve, spoon some of the grits into shallow bowls or plates. Place each roast on top of the grits. Lastly, ladle the sauce over the top.
Pumpkin Parmesan Grits
1 ¾ cups water
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup whole milk
½ cups quick cooking stone ground grits
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup fresh pumpkin purée*
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Add the water and heavy cream to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, immediately remove from the heat to prevent scorching the cream. Stir in the grits and ½ teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook the grits according to the package directions.
*To make the pumpkin purée, preheat an oven to 400°F. Halve a small pie pumpkin and place the cut sides face down on a baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes or until soft. Remove the seeds and discard. Scoop the pulp from the pumpkin halves and transfer to a food processor. Process until smooth.
Sous Vide Caramel Apple “Pie”
4 small Granny Smith apples, cored (not peeled)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Pecan Crumble Topping
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
½ cup chopped pecans
Vanilla ice cream, optional, for serving
Fill with water and set sous vide cooker to 183°F.
To make the caramel sauce, pour the condensed milk into a small (quart) cooking pouch or reseal able bag, evacuate as much air as possible from the pouch with your hands, and seal.
Submerge the pouch in the water bath and cook for 6 ½ hours or even overnight. If not using right away, quick chill the pouch in an ice water bath and refrigerate.
To cook the apples, pour ½ Tablespoon of the lemon juice into the middle of each cored apple, swirling to coat the inside of the apple.
In a small bowl, combine the butter, cinnamon and brown sugar.
Divide the butter mixture evenly among the apples, rubbing the mixture all around the inside of each apple and stuffing it well.
Put apples, 2 per pouch, into small (quart) pouches or reseal able bags and vacuum seal tightly.
Submerge the pouches in the water bath, being sure the apples remain fully beneath the water surface throughout cooking, and cook for 1 ½ hours.
Reheat the caramel sauce in its pouch alongside the apples in the last half hour of cooking.
Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 350°F.
To prepare the topping, mix the flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
Using two forks or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles wet sand. Stir in the pecans.
Pour the crumble mixture on a baking sheet and bake for 17 minutes or until golden brown.
To serve, transfer the apples from the pouch to dessert bowls, top each with a few spoonfuls of the pecan crumble topping, and drizzle with the caramel sauce. If desired, serve with a scoop of ice cream.