Archives For crockpot

Art by Mike Jeffries

There are many reasons for eating less meat, including environmental concerns. I for one am preparing and enjoying more meatless meals all the time. I’ll share some of those recipes soon, but right now I’m sharing a meaty meal that I adore. Many years ago, my late mother was the owner/chef of a small, popular truck-stop diner. I know she would’ve approved of this easy, hearty recipe.

I know this recipe seems weird at first. I mean, canned soup poured over precious beef? What!? Mind you, it’s a short-cut recipe after all so bear with me. Still, the first time I made this it looked so strange that I thought, ‘Oh my gosh… Have I just wasted all these ingredients?’ But having gone that far I forged ahead, turned on the crockpot, said a little prayer, and voila! A few hours later my family and I were blessed with the best stew I’d ever made. The meat was SO tender, and the gravy… rich and flavorful. Years later and after many times preparing this recipe, I can tell you that this beef stew is foolproof to make and absolutely delicious. It’s just that easy.

One and Only Beef Stew

  • Servings: 8 generous servings
  • Time: 30mins + 6hrs
  • Difficulty: easy
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The long, gentle simmering time in the slow cooker turns this concoction into a delicious, succulent supper!


Ingredients

  • 1.5kg/3lb Bottom Blade (aka Chuck, rolled Pot Roast) boneless beef roast, cleaned and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped into a small dice
  • 5 carrots, washed, chopped medium
  • 1 can tomato soup, undiluted
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1 cube of McCormick’s Beef-flavored bouillon, crumbled
  • Seasonings: sea salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil, Steak Spice and Cajun Spice (about ½ teaspoon each or whatever you want… this is an example of what I add)
  • 4-6 dried bay leaves (removed before serving)
  • AT END OF COOKING TIME, JUST BEFORE SERVING:
  • Add slurry: 2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tablespoon of water
  • 1½ cups frozen peas, stirred in as you remove the bay leaves
  • Creamy mashed potatoes, for serving


Directions

Remove strings and pull roast into sections. Carve off fat/silverskin (see video link below), cut beef into 1-inch cubes, and add to 6L/5.7quart slow cooker. Add vegetables and cans of soup. Add seasonings except bay leaves. Stir the thick mixture to combine, and now push open a few ‘holes’ to tuck the bay leaves in without breaking them. This makes the flavorful, but inedible, dried leaves easier to remove at the end.

Put lid on tight (I weigh it down with silicone oven mitts). Turn crockpot to LOW for 6 hours (8 hours in an older slow cooker). No peeking for this all day simmer. The beef cubes will break apart when cooked long enough. Give it more time if the pieces don’t cut in half with a fork.

Once the beef is tender, stir the slurry into the stew, turn crockpot to High, and simmer 5 minutes to thicken the gravy. Turn off crockpot. Stir in frozen peas while removing the bay leaves, and the peas will be ready within moments. Enjoy this succulent stew with hot mashed potatoes.


YouTube – cutting up roast for stew
This video helped teach me how to cut up roasts for stewing. After practice and learning, I now clean and cube a medium blade roast in ten minutes.

Note: The so-called required step in many stew recipes of pre-browning beef cubes to ‘sear in’ juices is (IMHO) a myth. Searing adds flavor but this recipe has tons of taste. I cherish the low-stress, fast prep, and easy clean-up of this recipe. Also, terms ‘slow cooker’ and ‘crockpot’ are used interchangeably.
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[Copyright © 2017 Front Yard to Backcountry]

blue mug

Art by Diane Mannion

There are a few ways this recipe adds to my peace. Firstly, my family really enjoys the taste of this hot drink and it pleases me to make it for them. It’s wonderfully comforting to savor a cup of hot, spiced apple juice on a snowy day and the fact that kids like it too is an added bonus. Plus it fills my home with an astonishing aroma of apples and cinnamon. The mere scent of it as it heats up in the crockpot adds a delightful element of coziness.

Also, using the crockpot reminds me to set up a self-serve area ahead of time. Hours before any one has arrived I assemble the recipe and turn on the crockpot to LOW. Then I place a serving ladle on a large plate next to it with an array of teacups and mugs nearby. It’s done ahead of time and I can focus on meal preparation.

And perhaps the most important benefit to using this recipe with a crockpot serving station is keeping my small cooking area clear. I love to visit while I cook but I do not love moving out of the way when people need cups or glasses. After we moved to this house and I got to know my new kitchen workspace, I immediately noticed how my stress would increase when people were coming and going through my small kitchen. Mind you I don’t know of many cooks who enjoy moving out of the way for cabinet doors and drawers, or even getting the required items themselves. By planning ahead and preparing a self-serve beverage area, I keep my joy factor up and my stress level low. This cultivates calmness.

crockpot 300apple juice 350cinnamon_sticks teaspoon cloves 200 brown sugar 275

HOT APPLE CIDER

There are many versions of Hot Apple Cider but this one is just pure unsweetened apple juice with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and whole allspice added, along with a bit of brown sugar to balance it all out. How many people this recipe serves depends on variables. It makes 16 cups of liquid so many recipes say SERVES 16 but this can be inaccurate. Sure it serves 16 people IF they are drinking out of teacups or demure punch-bowl-cups and every person is only served once. That’s not much fun for 16 people, but it might work for a function where guests will enjoy using small cups and are really watching their sugar-intake. Around here, on a snowy winter’s day, my adult sons enjoy coffee-mug refills of this cider! So we go through this 4-litre/1-gallon recipe with five people. If I had two or three times this number of guests I’d be borrowing crockpots ahead of time.

Here’s what you need:

Crockpot (6-quart / 5.6 L)

tea infuser 200Tea infuser, or alternately make a cheesecloth bundle

1 gallon apple juice, unsweetened*  (I use 4 recyclable 1L boxes)

5 cinnamon sticks*

1 teaspoon whole* allspice

1 teaspoon whole* cloves

¼ cup of brown sugar

Put the cloves and allspice into your stainless steel tea infuser (or tie into a cheesecloth bundle; I’ve done that in a pinch). Pour the juice into your crockpot, add the infuser and cinnamon sticks, put the lid on, set to LOW at least a couple of hours before serving time, and voila! A delicious drink that’s family-friendly and will quickly become everyone’s favourite for your wintertime gatherings. It will fill your home with the cozy aroma of cinnamon and apples and bring an extra serving of peace to the cook. Enjoy!

*Note: It is essential to use WHOLE spices; never use powdered. Just don’t do it. Make something else. It would result in something completely different, something I don’t personally enjoy or recommend. A Final Note: Although most of us around here enjoy it as is, my eldest son enjoys a splash of spiced rum stirred in to his mug, so that might be nice to have on hand for a more ‘spirited’ beverage.

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