Sunday, March 6, 2011
Beef Stew a la crock pot
If it's cold outside, then there's no better meal to warm you up than a big bowl of beef stew.
I've been living on my own for a couple of decades, and I'm a bit ashamed to say that it's only recently that I've made what I feel is a truly great beef stew that could live up to the memory of my mom's stew. Up until now, either the texture of the meat or the overall depth of the flavor just wasn't right, but now, I've got it!
...and my mom made this look so easy when I was growing up. ;)
This dish is a true labor of love for my family and is reserved for Sunday afternoons when I have the time to do this dish right.
1-2 lbs beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 cups carrots, chopped bite size
2-3 cups red potatoes, chopped bite size
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups beef stock
Chop all veggies and set aside.
Prepare your beef. Your meat should have a medium marbilization (white streaks through the meat), too little and your meat will be tough after cooked.
Chop into bite size pieces.
Prepare your frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of oil. Add onions and cook until almost translucent. When ready, transfer the cooked onions to the crock pot.
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme. Mix well.
Drop about a third of your meat chunks into the flour mixture, turning them to coat them well. (This is called dredging.) Be sure to wash your hands at this point so that you don't have any cross contamination!! (This is one step I won't consider skipping.)
Add the meat piece by piece to the frying pan and cook on medium heat. Be sure to leave them plenty of space. Overcrowding doesn't help develop the carmelization of the meat. Turn after about 2 minutes to cook the other side. You want them to brown but not cook through.Add oil as needed but only enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
Keep an eye on the brown bits that start to collect in your pan. Don't burn them! It will ruin the last step of the stew if you do! Add oil or turn your heat down if you're worried.
Remove meat when cooked placing them on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess grease. Continue dredging, cooking and removing until you have cooked all of the meat. Add all of the cooked meat to your crock pot
Turn the stove off so that you do not burn the brown bits left behind in your pan! This is important!
Add carrots and celery to the crock pot as well. Pour tomato sauce over it all. Cover and turn the crock pot on to high. (I actually add the meat in stages as I cook it up. I turn the crock pot on as soon as the first batch goes in to help cut down on preheating time.)
Turn the stove back on to medium. Allow the skillet to heat up for just a minute. With a wooden spoon and stirring constantly, gently pour the beef stock into the pan. Use the spoon to scrape up the good bits on the bottom of the pan. (Using a metal utensil on this step can destroy your cookware!)
Allow this mixture to simmer on medium low for a few minutes. The flour left behind from the dredging will start to thicken this into a gravy.
After the meat and veggies in the crock pot have been cooking for about an hour, add the potatoes and pour the gravy over all. Allow to continue cooking for another couple of hours.
Serve with a slice of hearty artisan bread and maybe a slice of good cheddar cheese. A roaring fire is a nice addition to this dinner as well. ;)
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