While testing slow cookers for her report, editor-at-large Maryellen Driscoll developed a recipe for an amazingly tender pot roast with a robust gravy. (The recipe for Slow-Cooked Pot Roast with Mustard & Horseradish Gravy can also be made without a slow cooker.) It’s a great treat to come home to a kitchen filled with the aroma of this pot roast.
Gentle simmering is the key to-tender stews
If it’s true that a watched pot never boils, then you’ll want to keep a vigilant eye on the stove whenever you’re braising or stewing meat, because an actual boil would be bad news. Prolonged boiling usually results in a tough texture because the meat overcooks before its connective tissue, called collagen, gets a chance to break down. A slow simmer, characterized by bubbles lazily and occasionally breaking the surface, cooks the meat gently while allowing the collagen to break down, so you get a perfectly tender result. Slow cookers are excellent at maintaining this gentle cooking environment.