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I usually cook a beef pot roast by putting the meat and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions) in a slow cooker with a little bit of water and letting it go for ~8 hours on low. This works well int hat everything is well cooked, the meat is moist and tender, etc.

The one issue I have is that the meat tends to have an overly strong taste of vegetables. I don't really know how to describe it beyond that. Particularly from the carrots. I prefer my meat to taste more like meat. What can I do to accomplish this? Should I try browning the meat first to try and "seal" it up? Add the vegetables later?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think you've answered your own question. Browning and adding veggies later will both help.

Browning doesn't "seal" the meat to keep flavor or juices in, but it does create a very nice flavor that's almost always associated with meat, caused by the Maillard reaction. I think browning could go a long way to resolving your flavor issue.

This is a little counter intuitive of cooking with a slow cooker, but you can start the meat with a bit of water (or wine, stock, other juices) and then only put the vegetables in much later in the process. Of course, then you have to tend your crock pot, which is often not the point. That would decrease the time that the vegetables had to affect the taste of your meat. You could even experiment with which ones to add later and which to add at the beginning. If it's just the carrots that are offensive, that may be the only thing you need to throw in later.

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I would use a riser in your slow cooker. If you raise the meat out of the water above the vegetables, you won't have as much flavor transference in the one direction while still allowing your veg to absorb the juices from the meat. Since the cooking in a slow cooker is achieved by the low moist heat and not boiling, your meat will still come moist and delicious. I use a vegetable steamer in mine, but all you need is something that is porous and can handle a few hours in the heat (so don't use parchment paper, disaster awaits you down that path).

As for browning, it will add more flavor to the dish, but it will not cut down the flavor transference at all. Your pot roast will still absorb all those flavors. Adding your vegetation later will cut it down somewhat, but like yossarian noted, who wants to baby sit a crock pot.

Another suggestion for something to use as a spacer is chop sticks. I have used them a few times just laid between and they have worked just as good as the vegetable steamer.

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