Crock Pot Love
In honor of the week’s feastings.
I got a call from my brother last week. After years of hearing me, nondomestic Deborah, wax poetic about my crock pot, he finally got one for himself; I was almost giddy at the news.
I got my crockpot as the First Christmas Present from my mother-in-law six years ago; and though it felt a bit like the toaster episode in Father of the Bride, this kitchen gadget quickly opened up a whole new world of culinary pleasure.
At the heart of the pleasure is my kitchen minimalism. “Guess how long it took me to make this stew? 10 minutes! . . . and then 8 hours in the crock pot.” I’m an impatient cook, so my sauteed chicken is often too tough and my pasta too dente. I am also a whole food devotee, so nothing processed touches my crockpot. Just good meats, veggies, fruits, spices, combining their juices over hours of slow simmering. And now it’s tradition: I roast a chicken every Sunday, saving the leftover juice for soup stock.
When my brother asked me for favorite slow cooking recipes, I passed along my lusciously-thick beef stew secret — adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe I came across a few years ago. Here it is — you’ll notice it’s not an exact science (another reason to love the crock pot). But please, don’t add any water. I promise you don’t need as much as a teaspoon.
Bottom of the pot:
- 2-3 pounds lean stewing beef
- 2 small containers of tomato PASTE smeared over the meat
- 1 or 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Above the meat, fill the pot nearly the top with:
- Carrots, sliced thick (6-8)
- Small onion, sliced
- A bunch of whole, *small* red potatoes (if you can’t find the little red ones, cut the slightly larger ones in half.
- Optional: One sweet potato, sliced fairly thin (this adds sweetness and thickness when you mix it all up)
Cook on low for 8 hours. Stir it all together (will become a thick, red sauce). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Your turn to help my brother. What’s your favorite crock-pot recipe?