There is nothing better than a home- cooked meal after a busy day. Cracked black pepper crusted pot roast is one of my new favorites, I’m completely obsessed with this dinner idea, served over my creamy ricotta and chive mashed potatoes and you have the ultimate busy day meal made with no stove-top cooking required – woohoo!
I recently have been feeling the pains of the a busy schedule again, I’m happy to welcome the “normalcy” it brings but I feel like my training wheels of emerging back into a life where everyone needs to be somewhere will be on for awhile. As our schedules fill up with preschool, ballet, play-dates, visiting family, holiday adventures and preemptive covid tests, I am seeking out more and more crock-pot recipes and this one is killer!
Cracked Black Pepper
Borrowing this idea from the French, they have a dish called Steak au Poive and when I made that in culinary school it was love. Pure love.
It brings such a unique and enticing flavor to the pot roast. It adds such a deep layer of flavor that is both harsh and spicy yet comforting and satisfying – So here it is in a crock-pot version so that we can enjoy it any busy night of the week.
The key to a great Steak au Poive is the black pepper you use. In culinary school we smashed whole peppercorns with the bottom of a pan to create a pile of broken coarse pepper. Good news, you can buy coarse black pepper so that the pieces are not as small as your typical ground black pepper. You can also use different color peppercorns if you want to try a different flavor profile.
For this you want to mix coarse-ground and regular ground black pepper with some kosher salt to round out the flavors. The ground pepper will fall into the crevasses created by the coarse pepper pieces and kosher salt so that the entire pot roast is smothered in dry black pepper. Press down to lock it into place.
Creating a black pepper crust
Browning your pot roast before putting it in the crockpot, or alternatively to roast in the oven is essential to creating an irresistible layer or flavors. The hot heat and butter will wake the pepper up, enhancing the bold flavors, and sealing them in. By searing your pot roast first you will create a Maillard reaction which simply means you will create that bold delicious sought-after steak flavor, which is different from a lot of crockpot meals.
It’s an extra step but totally worth it. Over hot heat with butter, garlic and herbs, sear your pot roast on one side about about 2 minutes, flip and do the same with the other side. To create black pepper crust, carefully spoon the butter over the pot roast until browned.
If you want to serve it “au Jus”
Au Jus is a french culinary term that means with juice. If you want to serve your cracked black pepper crusted pot roast with pan sauce, it’s really easy to make. Once you remove your pot roast from the crockpot, as it rests on a cutting board you can prepare pan sauce. Using the cooking broth in the crockpot, strain into a pot. Place the pot on the stove over medium/high heat until it starts to reduce to the perfect consistency. Stir and taste. You may need to add a pinch or two of salt and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. To make it top-notch pot roast worthy, once you get your sauce as thick as you like, remove from the heat and add a tbsp of butter to make the sauce shine.
Pro tip: if your sauce gets too thick before you serve it, whisk in some water. This will help you fix the consistency without ruining the perfect flavor you already created.
Cracked Black Pepper Crusted Pot Roast (Steak au Poive – Crockpot Recipe)
- ¼ cup Coarse Ground Black Pepper
- 2 TBSP Ground Black Pepper
- 1 TBSP Kosher Salt
- 3 pound Chuck Roast
- 2 TBSP Butter
- 2 Garlic Cloves – peeled and smashed
- 2 Sprigs of Rosemary
- 2 TBSP Red Wine Vinegar
- 2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 cup Beef Stock
Au Jus (Pan Sauce)
- Cooking Broth from the crockpot – strained
- 2 pinches of Kosher Salt
- 1 a dash of Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 TBSP Butter
- Combine the coarse ground and regular ground peppers with the kosher salt.
- Cover both sides of the chuck roast in a thick layer of the pepper mixture – pressing down so that it stays in place.
- In a large pan, over medium high heat, melt your butter, add your garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs until they start to become fragrant. Sear the pot roast to seal the black pepper crust on both sides. (see blog notes for more explanation) You can also skip this step if you're in a time crunch.
- In a crockpot – add your seared crusted pot roast, the garlic cloves and rosemary. Add in the red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and beef stock. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
Au Jus "with juice" – pan sauce
- Pull out the pot roast and let it rest on the cutting board.
- Strain the cooking broth from the crockpot into a pot. Place the pot on the stove over medium/high heat until it starts to reduce to the perfect consistency. Stir and taste. You may need to add a pinch or two of salt and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Once you reach your perfect consistency, remove from heat and top with one TBSP of butter. Stir until melted.