December 9, 2022


Qualified food specialists

Loaves and Dishes: Into the heart of darkness (black coffee)

5 min read

				                                Coffee adds a nice hit of flavor to Perfect Pot Roast.

Coffee adds a nice hit of flavor to Perfect Pot Roast.

Why did I let my friend talk me into this? I’ve been dieting now for two hours and I’m still not skinny or feeling better. The worst part is that my coffee, which I look forward to each day, tastes terrible without my usual witches brew of additives, evil giggles and mesmerizing stirring as the sweet smells of coffee, raw sugar and whole bovine cream waft about filling the air with sweet deliciousness.

Nope, this diet eschews all of those morning niceties that have been gently welcoming me to a new day for years and instead says, “drink your coffee black or just don’t drink it”.

Really, what kind of monsters devise a diet like this? I don’t think you’ll want to meet the Wendi who only drinks black coffee in the morning.

She has a mean and twisted heart that savors the bitter tones of hot coffee poured into a black ceramic mug, sloshing its murkiness against the sides and crashing into a shiny inkiness at the bottom of the cup, its blackness matching the darkness of her soul.

Too much? OK, maybe that is going overboard. But I’m hoping that by tomorrow I’ll figure out some kind of creamer/sweetener that will work with this diet because otherwise, I might go bonkers. This is no way to start a day.

But saying all of that about coffee reminds me about how good coffee can be as an additive to sauces and gravies! We’ve all had red eye gravy where coffee is the star, right? If you haven’t, there’s a wonderful recipe over on the Loaves and Dishes website. Just type in “Red Eye Gravy” in the search bar and it will pop up.

Want to give your pot roast, beef stew or other dark beef or pork dish some added heartiness? Add a little coffee in place of some of the broth or water in the recipe. Trust me, you won’t be sorry! What a delight! No one will taste your dish and say, “why does this have a coffee sauce on it?” Instead, they will say, “Boy this is rich and tasty!”

Have you ever made that delicious tasty pot roast that uses the au jus packets? If not, try this recipe. The coffee just adds another layer of richness to the already fantastic flavors that develop.

I hope you give it a try and really enjoy it because I won’t be having any for a while. You know, this diet. The secret to this roast is the long slow cook. It takes all day on low. Occasionally, I have been worried that it wasn’t going to get done in time and have cranked it to high for a few hours and then moved it back to low. It should be pull apart delicious when it’s done.

This recipe only works with chuck roast. I’ve tried it with other cuts and it isn’t half as good. Look for a chuck roast that has a lot of fat marbled in and don’t dare cut it off. The roast will shrink quite a lot while it’s cooking and will make it’s own sauce. You can do two roasts in one crock-pot (if you have a larger crock-pot) but allow a longer cooking time and double the other ingredients.

This recipe is a take on the popular Mississippi Mud Pot Roast, which I learned from my dear friend Mary over in Pilot Mountain, but isn’t quite the same as the one she makes.

Meanwhile, you enjoy the pot roast and I’ll be over here trying not to fall off the edge into the dark side with this black coffee.

Perfect Pot Roast

For the roast:



3-4 lb. chuck roast, well marbled with fat

1 packet of au jus

1 packet of Ranch seasoning mix

4 pepperoncini peppers

⅓ cup coffee

4 bay leaves

2 tsp. minced garlic or 1 head of garlic clove sliced in half like a book

For the gravy:

2 Tbs. cornstarch

2 tsp. water

Sprinkle the surface of the chuck roast with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the chuck roast into the bottom of a medium size crock-pot. Set the crock-pot on low. Sprinkle the au jus, Ranch seasoning over the top of the roast. Place the pepperoncini peppers, coffee, bay leaves and minced garlic in the crock-pot and place the lid on securely. Allow to cook on low for at least 8 hours. After 8 hours remove the lid and use a fork to see if the roast is tender. If it is not falling apart (fork tender), place the lid back on and cook for another hour or more until it is fork tender and falling apart. Remove to a serving platter or use a large slotted spoon to remove the meat from the crock-pot directly onto plates. Do not serve/eat the bay leaves; some people really like to eat the peppers and the garlic cloves. The juice left in the crock-pot is used to make the gravy in the next step.

For the gravy, mix the cornstarch and water together to form a slurry. The water must be cool and the pan juices hot. Pour the cornstarch slurry slowly into the juices while whisking. The liquid will thicken over the next few minutes. Replace the meat back into the gravy and serve.


• Make sure to use only chuck roast for this recipe.

• The pepperoncini peppers are optional. They don’t really add heat, they add flavor and you won’t be eating them anyway.

• A thyme bundle makes a nice flavor with this pot roast as well.

• If you are using the bulk Ranch dressing, use three tablespoons. Otherwise, use a single packet.

• If you love carrots, potatoes and onions in your pot roast, simply quarter an onion, Cut your carrots into chunks and quarter some potatoes and add those to the crockpot four hours before you plan to serve dinner.

Wendi Spraker is CEO, Food Writer, Recipe Developer and Dish Washer at and one of the Dorks with Sporks duo, a mother-daughter “adventure in take-out” podcast. Find them at

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