Food: Mississippi Roast a slow cooker champ

Kate Lawson
The Detroit News

I used to always think I liked pot roast. The idea is so comforting: A hunk of beef, a big dollop of mashed potatoes, some gravy and roasted carrots could make me forget that there was a foot of snow on the ground. Then I would make and it and be woefully disappointed. The flavor seemed so bland no matter how I toyed with the seasonings that I finally gave up. I don’t know what I did wrong (or didn’t do right) but it just wasn’t worth it. Then my life changed.

My husband was the one who discovered the recipe for Mississippi Roast; a hot Internet sensation that was being featured on just about every website and morning talk show program and had escaped me completely. (Hey, I’m retired; I sleep in, I go to the gym).

If you’ve not heard of it you’ll be amazed and if you have, and you’ve tried it, you’ll know what all the hoopla is about.

Robin Chapman of Ripley, Mississippi, is credited for creating this unusual, terrifically easy and comforting dish many years ago. Before it enjoyed Internet fame, this recipe was first published in a church cookbook. Eventually the recipe was posted on a blog, found its way to a Pinterest site and was shared far and wide.

The original recipe called for a chuck roast with few ingredients including a packet of ranch dressing, a packet of gravy mix and a stick of butter along with a dozen pepperonci peppers. I don’t know about you but that sounded pretty awful. (In my early years as a cook and young mother of two, I once followed a pot roast recipe on the side of a can of Kroger grapefruit juice. The result is forever with me and I still shudder remembering the first bite.)

So the idea of adding packets of chemicals and sodium to a perfectly good cut of beef didn’t appeal. But when Sam Sifton wrote about it in the New York Times and replaced the dry packets of ranch and gravy mix with mayonnaise, dill, paprika, vinegar and buttermilk and decreased the amount of butter, I decided to get on board.

This Mississippi Roast is like many classic slow-cooker recipes: Simply brown the roast first then add everything into the crock insert, flip the switch on and let it simmer for hours. The aroma of the dish is amazing but doesn’t hold a candle to how fantastic this dish tastes. Serve with pappardelle noodles or mashed potatoes. The next time I’ll put it on sandwich rolls for a long-awaited summer barbecue.

Kate Lawson is the retired Detroit News food writer. You can reach her at katecook@comcast.net.

Mississippi Roast

Recipe from the New York Times

1 boneless chuck roast or top or bottom round roast, 3 to 4 pounds

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 to 12 pepperoncini

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried dill

1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon buttermilk, optional

Chopped parsley, for garnish

Place roast on a cutting board and rub the salt and pepper all over it. Sprinkle the flour all over the seasoned meat and massage it into the flesh.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan set over high heat until it is shimmering and about to smoke. Place the roast in the pan and brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes a side, to create a crust. Remove roast from pan and place it in the bowl of a slow cooker. Add the butter and the pepperoncini to the meat. Put the lid on the slow cooker, and set the machine to low.

As the roast heats, make a ranch dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, dill and paprika in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify. Add the buttermilk if using, then whisk again. Remove the lid from the slow cooker and add the dressing. Replace the top and allow to continue cooking, undisturbed, for 6 to 8 hours, or until you can shred the meat easily using 2 forks. Mix the meat with the gravy surrounding it. Garnish with parsley, and serve with egg noodles or roast potatoes, or pile on sandwich rolls, however you like.

8 servings: 467 calories; 35 fat; 13 sat; 67 percent fat; 4 carbs; 1 sugar; 143 cholesterol; 624 sodium; 36 protein; 0.2 fiber