Slow-Cooked Meats For Fall

Tender. Juicy. Flavorful. As the weather cools down, mouthwatering meats in your slow cooker become homemade dinner on the table by the time you get home from work.

Cooking meat low and slow brings out the flavor of the ingredients, tenderizes the meat and offers an easy, one-step cooking process. And it gives you tempting aromas in the kitchen before you have a chance to eat it.

Start with beef and pork, raised just the way we would do it, if our backyard were big enough.

Select from cuts of local Vermont beef from Boyden Beef, including your favorite cuts as well as unique options such as oxtail and neck bones. All-natural and sustainable, this beef is raised on a high-grass diet, on organic pastures with no growth promoting antibiotics or hormones. Try roasts, shanks and other cuts of antibiotic-free, hormone-free Niman Ranch beef or pork, also in our meat case.

Here are some suggestions for what to add to your pot. Get creative with your choice of vegetables, sauces and meats.

Beef Chuck Boneless Roast: This robust, beefy roast – a cut used to make pot roast – requires moist heat cooking to soften and tenderize. Cook it in the slow cooker with onions, carrots, garlic, beef broth, fresh thyme and dry red wine.

Beef Brisket: Season brisket with a couple of teaspoons each of dry mustard and paprika and a teaspoon each of salt and garlic powder, plus black pepper to taste. Then add onions chopped in rings and sliced mushrooms, plus some water, to your slow cooker.

Bottom Round Roast: Slow cooking makes for a tender bottom round roast. Make a simple sauce with balsamic vinegar, soy sauce (use tamari for gluten free!), honey, red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Add onions, carrots and potatoes for a complete meal.

Boneless Pork Shoulder: Turn pork shoulder into pulled pork sandwiches! Cook it with your favorite barbecue sauce in the slow cooker. Then shred it and serve on sourdough rolls, with a side of corn and sautéed greens.

Pork Shank: A lean-yet-tough pork shank becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender when cooked slowly. Seal in the juices by searing it in oil before you place it in your slow cooker. Add peppers, onions and whatever liquid you want: stock, tomato juice, wine or a combination.

Oxtail: A less used cut, oxtail brings rich flavor soups and stews. Start by seasoning the meat and coating it in flour. Brown it on each side in a pan. Move the cooked oxtail into a slow cooker, and add cooked bacon. Mix in your choice of chopped vegetables, including onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Add 2 cups of liquid, such as a combination of 1 beef stock and red wine, in addition to 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Cook on slow for 8 hours.

Neck Bones: Another often forgotten cut, neck bones become tender and rich when braised. Great for bone broth in a pressure cooker! Or make a flavorful traditional stock – sear 4 pounds of neck bones in a Dutch oven and set the meat aside. Add one chopped onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions start to soften. Add dried rosemary, 2 smashed garlic cloves, and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Deglaze the pan with ½ cup of red wine. Return the neck bones to the pot and add beef stock. Bring it to a simmer, cover, ad braise in the oven for approximately 2 ½ hours, until tender.

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