Hugh Acheson jumped into the national spotlight when he competed on “Top Chef Masters,” but after he went on to become a “Top Chef” judge and cookbook author, he’s become a food celebrity in his own right.
Inspired by the recent revival of slow cookers, the Georgia-based chef has a new book called ““The Chef and the Slow Cooker” (Clarkson Potter, $29.95) that includes recipes for restaurant-inspired dishes made in the humblest of kitchen appliances.
Acheson will be in Austin this weekend for a cooking demo and book signing from noon to 2 p.m. at Whole Foods Market, 525 N. Lamar Blvd. He’ll be making tacos with a slow cooker, and proceeds from taco sales will go to Seed Life Skills, a non-profit that Acheson started to help get kids cooking and connect science to real life problems.
Pot Roast with Charred Onion and Chickpea Salad
This is a perfect early fall meal, capturing the abundance of peppers and onions that the harvest has brought. Pot roast sometimes gets a bad rap for being dry, boring and bland. I understand the hesitation with dishes that maybe you had bad versions of growing up, but this recipe shines a new light on a classic. Using chuck and cooking it slow-and-low allows it time to fully develop its flavor. Pair it with a fresh chickpea salad to brighten up the dish.
— Hugh Acheson
1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 pounds)
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 medium carrots, large-diced
1 large sweet onion, large-diced
6 garlic cloves, smashed
6 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 quart beef stock
1 quart dry red wine
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
For the onion and chickpea salad:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large red onion, halved lengthwise, root end of each half left intact
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (from about 1 bunch)
4 red jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Place a large braising pan, such as a Dutch oven, over high heat and warm the canola oil in it until it shimmers. Add the chuck roast and sear it for about 5 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Transfer the roast to a plate to rest, and add the carrots and onion to the braising pan. Cook for 3 minutes on high heat, stirring, until the vegetables are starting to soften; then add the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs and cook for 1 minute more. Add the stock, red wine, and ground coriander and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the contents into a slow cooker. Add the chuck roast, cover with the lid, and cook on the low setting for 8 to 10 hours, until very tender. Season with additional salt, if desired.
While the roast cooks, prepare the salad: Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil, and when it begins to shimmer, add the onion halves, cut-side down, and char for about 10 minutes — you want them to be well blackened. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the onion halves cool to room temperature; then slice each half into ¼-inch-thick half-rings.
In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, cilantro, jalapeños, charred onion slices, lemon juice, olive oil, and cumin. Toss well and season with salt to taste.
When it’s time to serve, pat the chuck roast dry and season it all over with salt and the pepper. Transfer the roast to a platter, discard the bay and thyme, and serve with salad on the side.
— From “The Chef and the Slow Cooker” by Hugh Acheson (Clarkson Potter, $29.95)