June Cleaver isn’t the only parent who can turn out a Sunday-dinner-worthy pot roast on a busy school night. You can do it, too (Melissa Elsmo/Eats Editor).

I love serving elaborate meals, but folks like TV-mom, June Cleaver, make whipping up a week-night dinner look way too easy for my tastes. Through the magic of television June churns out turkey with all the trimmings on a Tuesday night without so much as breaking a sweat. Sure, Wally and the Beaver clutch their school work as they walk through the door, but you never get the feeling their mother’s trusty meatloaf burns because she is frantically trying to teach herself how to do lattice math in a desperate attempt to help her youngest son complete his dreaded homework assignment. Immortalized in black and white, she remains utterly unflappable as she peels a veritable boatload of carrots before placing a perfectly cooked pot roast on the dining room table. And June seems to pull off these sorts mythical kitchen feats night after nauseating night. 

Without the sitcom cameras rolling and laugh tracks in place, parents everywhere know busy back-to-school schedules tend an unpredictable reality TV vibe to the evening supper hour. Explosive temper fits over book reports, last minute trips to pick up poster board or misplaced novels can derail the most well-intended week night cooks. On the worst of nights, homework, carpools and a host of minor catastrophes can leave little time to feed a family anything more than a bowl of cereal. The week-night roller coaster often leaves stunned parents nibbling on dry cheerios, clutching a glass of Cabernet and longing for a serving of June’s reliable and nutritious roast beef dinners. 

Guess what? June Cleaver isn’t the only parent who can turn out a Sunday-dinner-worthy pot roast on a busy school night. You can do it, too. 

Whether or not you choose to wear a frilly apron and a strand of pearls in the kitchen, relying on a retro slow cooker ensures you’ll have a wholesome dinner waiting for your family at the end of the day no matter how hectic it may get. It takes no more than a few minutes to toss these simple ingredients into a slow cooker and mixing up the no cook sauce is a breeze. After cooking long and low all day long, your home will smell like June Cleaver has been hard at work in your kitchen making a pot roast dinner worthy of serving any night of the week. 

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Sandwiches with arugula and horseradish-mustard sauce

These simply flavored pot roast sandwiches are enhanced considerably by the horseradish sauce and peppery arugula, but younger children may enjoy them more served plain. Do what suits your family, but be sure to serve these sandwiches with carrot and celery sticks to make Mrs. Cleaver proud.

For the pot roast:

  • 1 (4-5 pound) boneless beef chuck roast
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • ½ Cup brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 ounces lager beer

For the horseradish-mustard sauce:

  • ½ Cup sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons prepared Horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

For serving:

  • 6 onion rolls, toasted
  • Baby arugula

Season the roast liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the chili powder and thyme over the roast. Toss ½ the sliced onion into the bottom of a 7-8 quart crock pot. Place the seasoned roast on top of the onions. Toss the remaining onion and sliced garlic over the roast. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of the roast. Add the bay leaf and beer to the side of roast (do not wet the sugar). Cover and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours. Shred the meat and return to the liquid in the slow cooker to keep warm.

Meanwhile mix the sour cream, horseradish and mustard. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve the shredded meat, horseradish-mustard sauce and arugula on the toasted onion rolls and enjoy at once. Freeze any leftover pot roast for future use.

Variation:Tangy Red Sauce

  • ¼ Cup Ketchup
  • ¼ Cup Chili Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Whisk ingredients together and serve on the sandwiches alone or in combination with the horseradish sauce

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