In terms of a slow cooker, you can best believe that the magic created whilst adhering to the virtue of patience. The sheer brilliance of a slow cooker lies in the realm that essentially it does everything for you... a key instrument when preparing juicy, fall-of-the-bone meats.
A roast, for example. One would imagine that when everything cooks together in a large cauldron for hours upon hours, that everything in said pot would turn about fifty shades of... brown. Well, true. However, the flavors created are literally indescribable...camouflaged by their un-impressive appearance. So how does showcase said deserving flavors, as opposed to slopping the muddled protein and veggies atop each other?
First of all, let's run through a delicious, yet easy, slow-cooked roast recipe.
Select a variety of vegetables... onion, zucchini and potato. Chop the vegetables in large chunks (about 2 inch pieces). Why large? Since they will be cooking for about 6-7 hours, they will have amply time to cook, caramelize and permeate the cooking broth. The large cuts will also allow the vegetables to retain their shapes for the long cooking duration. Spray the bottom of the slow-cooker with a nonstick spray, then place the vegetables on the bottom of the pot. Add a few springs of thyme and rosemary, as well as 2 cloves of garlic (smash first).
Season all sides of the roast with smoked sea salt, smokey paprika, black pepper and a light dust of cayenne pepper. If you do not have smoked sea salt, simply substitute coarse sea salt (you can often find smoked sea salt in bulk at organic markets or online). Heat almond or walnut oil on a large saute pan, then sear all sides of the roast (about 2 minutes on each side, depending on the size of protein). The goal is simply to achieve a crust on all sides. Once seared on all sides, brush with a light coating of Dijon mustard. Chop rosemary fine and press onto the Dijon in order to form a light Dijon/rosemary crust. Place the seared roast atop the bed of vegetables.
In order to add a few more flavor dimensions, I will generally add about 1/4 cup or chicken stock and 1/4 cup of white wine, as well as 1-2 tsp of liquid smoke. The liquid smoke gives the entire dish a mild, smokey flavor (can be found usually in the condiment section of any grocery store). Lid on, then let the magic occur... generally low heat, cooked for about 6-7 hours.
In terms of plating... add finesse. Yes, use the juices from the slow cooker (you may have to reduce on the stove top) in order to serve. Place the vegetables on the bottom of the plate, then carefully top with the slices of roast. But... it's still brown...
Enter in "Little Miss Sunshine." Aka, sunny-side up egg. The vibrant egg will not only add a necessary bright color contrast, but the yolk will melt into the meat when consumed in the same bite (a perfect compliment to the smokey-essence that was absorbed into the roast). Delicately transfer the sunny-side up egg from the saute pan to rest atop the mouth-watering roast. To finish, add a few fresh herbs (chervil, parsley, micro greens).
"Every artist dips his brush in his owl soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures." - Henry Ward Beecher