You’ll come to see that I love using my crock pot… It’s easy to prep a meal the night before, dump it all in the pot and put in the fridge until morning. So easy, and so tasty. You can get away with buying some tough (ie cheaper) cuts of meat since it’ll be simmering all day and falling apart by the time you dig in for dinner.
One thing I love about cooking, is that once you have a good base recipe, you can build variations off of it. Want a more robust stew? Swap the wine for a dark beer, maybe throw some barley in. More depth? Toss in a bit of good tomato sauce. How about spicy? A greater variety of vegetables, herbs? Go for it!
So, here’s my basic recipe. Once of these days, I may get around to making some beef stock, but until then, I do occasionally buy seasoning packets for stuff like this…
1 packet of beef stew base
1 lb stew meat
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 medium-sized potatoes
1 cup red wine
1/2 large yellow onion
2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup water
Note: Vegetable amounts are estimated; once I add the meat, I just pile ‘em in my 5-quart crockpot until it’s nearly full.
Brown meat over medium-high heat. You’re not trying to cook it through, just get it looking tasty on the outside. While it’s browning, season the meat with salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. Once it’s done, pour the meat and juices into the bottom of your crockpot, then mix in your stew base, red wine and water.
Chop up potatoes, carrots and onion to your desired size. I recommend that you don’t cut them too small; they’ll nearly disintegrate (especially the potatoes) in the lengthy cooking process. I generally quarter the potatoes lengthwise, then chop them into about third-inch pieces. Carrots just get sliced into about quarter-inch thick chunks, and onion into about half-inch pieces.
At this point, you can put what you have in the fridge to start in the morning.
When you’re ready to get it cooking, turn your crockpot on low, and let the whole lot simmer for 6-8 hours. If you can, give it a stir once every couple hours, but this is not necessary.
I served it for dinner this evening, with some homemade wheat bread that I made last night.
You can also toss in some (thawed) peas or chopped green beans, corn, whatever floats your boat. I tend to hold off on that until just before serving so they don’t get mushy …and who likes mushy peas?