Yesterday we woke up to winter. When we lifted the blinds, the world had turned to gray. Snowflakes were everywhere, twinkling softly in the muted morning light. Our breath fogged up the cold windowpanes and this new world made us all react differently. The kids sprang into action, tearing apart closets for snow boots and snow pants. I dove back into my warm bed and threw the covers over my head.
A few minutes later, when Jack’s increasingly panicked search threatened to fill the house with mismatched gloves and boots, I started thinking about what to make for dinner. Filling the house with comforting smells seemed like the only way to deal with the beginning of a brutal Chicago winter.
I put my slow cooker to work, slowly braising an exotic pot roast. I filled the pot with exotic ingredients, warm, exciting flavors to help us remember summer: olives, cinnamon, cumin… All day long, as the snowflakes kissed the ground, freezing our landscape into a harsher reality, our kitchen smelled like Morocco.
And later that night, when huddled around the table with our cheeks still red and chafed from the cold, the steaming bowls of this exotic pot roast made us smile and relax, truly warm for the first time that day. I love that this dish introduces kids to new spices without it being spicy.
I served it with couscous tossed with roasted butternut squash.
- 1 (2 lb.) chuck roast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Vegetable Oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into small, coarse chunks (like little jewels says my 4 year old)
- 1 cup tomato juice
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup canned Kalamata olives, drained and roughly chopped
- ½ cup dark raisins
- Heat oil in skillet. Sprinkle both sides of the chuck roast with the salt and cumin. Brown the meat on both sides on very high heat. Remove from pan and put in a crock pot.
- Add onion, cinnamon, carrots, tomato juice, vinegar, olives and raisins to the crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for about 6 until meat is tender.
- Serve on a bed of couscous with the sauce and chunks of olives, carrots, and raisins poured on top. Alternatively, you can take a couple of cups of the juice and "chunkies" and puree in a blender for a smoother sauce.