Slow Cooker


The Beau and I have been going in different directions for weeks, so I wanted to make a special Sunday Supper. Whenever I want to make something lovely, I drift toward the incomparable Julia Child and her beef bourguignon, or at least my version of it.

Tonight’s take on the classic French beef stew uses a rioja rather than a burgundy, and has more of an au jus than a stew-y sauce.

Ingredients

5 slices thick cut, uncured bacon, cut into large pieces
4 beef tenderloins, cut into large pieces
1 cup beef stock
1 cup Rioja (Spanish red wine)
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
1 lb frozen pearl onions
1 lb fresh carrots, peeled, cut long-ways
2 cups crimini mushrooms, cleaned, sliced

20161030_072245

How I Made It

Cook the bacon in a non-stick skillet. Transfer the bacon to the slow cooker/crock pot with a slotted spoon. Brown the tenderloin pieces in the bacon fat, and then transfer them with a slotted spoon to the crock pot. Add the frozen pearl onions on top.

20161030_073019

Add the wine to the skillet and scrape the brown bits up with a spoon or spatula.  When it starts to bubble and all the bits have been incorporated, add the beef broth.  Then add the garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and stir to combine. Let it cook on medium-high heat for a minute or two before pouring the sauce into the slow cooker.

Cover and let the concoction cook on low heat for 8 hours.  Add the mushrooms at 4 hours, and the carrots an hour or two before the end (depending on how crisp you want them).

Serve over mashed potatoes. If you need more veggies, green beans are a perfect side.

How It Turned Out

The Beau made all sorts of happy sounds at the table, and was quick to take a big bowl of leftovers for his lunch tomorrow.  I think I might like it better than the original, not just because it’s easier but because the sauce is a bit lighter.

Advertisements

Fall weather creates a craving for comfort food — especially hot, creamy casseroles. This easy peasy way to make beef stroganoff results in a lovely jubbly homemade meal while you spend the day outside in the pumpkin patch.

Ingredients:

1 lb organic grass fed stew beef, cubed
2 cups sliced fresh baby portobello mushrooms
1 cup diced onion (frozen or fresh)
16 ounces organic low sodium or no salt added beef broth
1 tbs organic tomato paste
1 tbs Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp Gourmet Garden garlic paste
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup organic sour cream
egg noodles or other pasta, cooked al dente

How I Made It:

Rinse and pat dry the beef cubes before putting them in the slow cooker.  Cover the beef with the onions and mushrooms.  In a bowl, whisk together the beef broth, Worcestershire, and little dab of garlic.  Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.  Set the slow cooker to low and go play for 6-7 hours.

About half an hour before you’re ready to eat, dissolve the flour in a bit of water. It should be of a consistency between wallpaper paste and milk paint. Stir the flour mixture into the sauce and let it cook for 30 minutes more.  Cook the pasta and then, right before you are ready to serve, stir the sour cream into the sauce and combine thoroughly.

Serve the stroganoff sauce over noodles.  Add a salad or steamed carrots for a balanced meal.

How It Turned Out:

YUM-MEE!  It is satisfyingly creamy, with big chunks of tender beef and rich mushroom flavor. I used veggie noodles, both for the vitamins and the harvest colors.

Stroganoff

These baked beans are amazing — amazingly easy and amazingly tasty.  The secret is to use a crock pot and to add a dash of mustard.

Beans

Ingredients:

2 pounds dried navy beans
4 strips of center cut bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
12 ounces frozen chopped onion
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup organic low salt ketchup
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
4 tablespoons organic Dijon mustard

How I Made Them:

Rinse the beans in cold water and drain in a colander (with small holes).  In a large pot, cover the beans with cold water and bring to a boil.  Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for two hours. Drain the beans and transfer them to the crock pot.

In a heavy bottom sauce pan, cook the bacon until done but not crispy.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and stir it into the beans in the crock pot. Cook the onion in the bacon grease until it’s soft but not brown.  In a bowl, combine the vinegar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and mustard.  Add that to the onions and stir to combine.

Pour the sauce over the beans in the crock pot.  Set the crock pot to the lowest setting — on mine it’s “serve.”  Let the beans cook for 8 hours, stirring once halfway through to be sure the beans are thoroughly sauced.

How They Turned Out:

YUMMY!!  Serve with your favorites of the grill, hot dogs, or on their own.

 

My friend Elizabeth introduced me to African groundnut stew, a wonderfully spicy comfort dish. This version is as easy to make as it is tasty.

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
5 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 lbs of small red potatoes with skins, quartered
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (no salt if you can find them)
2 cups of  chicken broth
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 lb baby carrots

How I Made It:

In a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, sear the chicken breasts and thighs in the olive oil.  Don’t cook it all the way through, just get a nice browning on each side of the pieces of chicken.

Put the chicken in the bottom of the crock pot.  Top with the chopped onion and potatoes.  Add the diced tomatoes, then pour 1 and 1/2 cups of the chicken broth over the top.  In the remaining half cup of chicken broth, mix the tomato paste, curry, and ginger.  Pour the broth mixture over the top of the chicken in the crock pot.  Spoon the peanut butter in dollops over the top, then sprinkle with the red pepper.

Cover and cook on high in the crock pot for 4 hours.  Add the baby carrots, stirring the stew with a spoon to ensure that everything is mixed and the chicken starts to break up.  Cook on high for another hour or so.

How It Turned Out:

Holy kamoley — it’s good!  Just spicy enough, the flavors distinct yet complementing each other perfectly. Makes exactly 8 servings, and pairs well with warm naan or flat bread.

African Chicken Stew

 

It’s been a month since I fell and broke my ankle, a month since I planned a dinner party, a month since I cooked anything more exciting than a lean cuisine.  It’s been a very long month.

So I invited my best friend and her family over for Sunday Supper and set out to find something wonderful that I could prepare sitting down or balanced on my knee walker, something that didn’t involve the scary hot stovetop. A little perusal of Pinterest resulted in inspiration from Table for Two‘s crock pot broccoli and beef recipe.  I adjusted it to serve eight, reducing the soy sauce (too much sodium) and adding more vegetables.

Ingredients:

2 cups Swanson beef broth
3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 and 2/3 tbs of Gourmet Garden organic garlic minced garlic paste
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 lbs of beef flank steak, sliced across the grain
4 tbs cornstarch
4 cups fresh organic broccoli florets
2 cups of organic baby carrots, sliced lengthways
1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms

How I Made It:

Whisk the beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic together in the crock pot.  Add the sliced beef and ensure that all the pieces are covered in the cooking liquid.  Cook on low for 6 hours.

With a half hour to go, add the cornstarch by whisking it into a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid and then return it to the crock pot.  Add the broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms and continue cooking for 30 minutes.  You want the veggies cooked by still firm.  Serve over brown rice.

How It Turned Out:

Pretty tasty, this is definitely a recipe I’ll make again.

Beef and Broccoli

Makes 8 servings.
7 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving.

We had an “End of the World” party at the office Friday, with the theme of foods you’d want to feast upon if it was your last meal.  As a good Southern girl, of course I made barbecue (what else would you eat for your last meal on earth?).  It’s a crock pot recipe, so you just chuck the roast into the crock pot before bed and whip up the sauce the next day.

Ingredients:

BBQ

4 lb pork loin roast
3 cups apple juice
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chili pepper

BBQ Sauce

1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup Jack Daniels smoked honey mustard

How I Made It:

Put the roast in the crock pot with the apple juice, ginger, and chili pepper.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours, or until it is tender and shreddable.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a heavy saucepan over low heat.  You may want to adjust the ingredients to your taste (tangier, sweeter, etc.).  You can add a little Tabasco if you want some heat.  While the sauce simmers, remove the roast from the crockpot and let rest on a plate.  Discard the cooking liquid and return the roast to the crock pot.  Shred with two forks.  Pour the sauce over the shredded pork.  Keep warm in the crock pot until ready to serve.

How It Turned Out:

Tangy and tender, this barbecue is flavorful but lacks heat.  You might spice it up if you need a little kick in your Q.

Sunday suppers are a tradition for my funny Alaska family. For me, that means a little fancier meal than the standard weekday fare. Last night, we had an amazing buffalo pot roast. Amazing not only because it tasted wonderful, but also because it was SO EASY! Thank goodness for slow cookers!

Before I get to the recipe, I bet you want to know why I chose a buffalo roast. Recently, NPR’s Fresh Air ran a story on how chicken litter is fed to cattle. Chicken “litter” is full of chicken poo, feathers, and even dead chickens. It was absolutely horrifying. So, when shopping for my family’s supper, I looked for organic, vegetarian fed beef only. In my mind, that should be all that’s sold (what the heck is the USDA doing, anyway?). But it was impossible to find at our limited grocery store selections in Juneau.

What I did find was organic, vegetarian fed, free range buffalo.  So that’s what we had.

Free Range Buffalo on the Road in Kodiak, Alaska

Ingredients:

3 lb organic vegetarian-fed buffalo roast
1 cup good quality blended red wine
2 cups Swanson’s low salt beef broth
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced ginger
8 oz chopped tomatoes with juice
12 oz frozen chopped onion
6 dried bay leaves
2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms

 

How I Made It:

Whisk the wine, beef broth, garlic, ginger, and Worcestershire sauce together and put aside.  In a large slow cooker, combine the frozen onion and tomatoes.  Spread on the bottom of the slow cooker as a bed for the roast.  Rinse and pat the roast dry before placing it in the slow cooker.  Pour the red wine mixture over the roast (it won’t cover it, but that’s okay).  Add the bay leaves around but not on the roast.

Cover and set the slow cooker to high for 6 hours.  At about 3 hours, turn the roast over.  At the 6 hour mark, check the roast.  If it needs more liquid, add another cup of beef broth.  Add the mushrooms and stir to ensure they are well mixed with the pot liquor.  If the roast has reached at least 130 degrees in the center, reduce the slow cooker to low and let cook for another two hours.  The goal is 150 degrees at the center, without drying out.

How It Turned Out:

It was lovely – the meat was tender and yummy, and the pot liquor was wonderful. It was so tender that it wouldn’t slice — it just fell apart. (In fact, the reason there are pictures of live roaming buffalo and not the roast is because it was gone so fast.)

I served this roast with fresh green beans and carrots, and easy mashed potatoes. If you haven’t discovered Ore-Rida steam and mash, you’re wasting time peeling potatoes.

I’ve used this recipe (or one close to it) with beef roasts, caribou roasts, and moose roasts — it’s great with all of these.  If you decide to cook the vegetables in the slow cooker, too, add 2 lbs quartered red potatoes at the beginning and then add the carrots, mushrooms, and green beans not more than 2 hours before you plan to serve it (you don’t want them mushy).