Friday, June 25, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Duluth apparently has two seasons. Summer lasts from late July to early September, and the rest of the year is winter. Ok I’m exaggerating. I’m just bitter about it being freaking June (and almost July) and having to wear a jacket. I deal with this unfair chill with some “meat on your bones” meals my mom used to make when we were little.I grew up with this recipe, but the fun thing about not living with mommy anymore is that you are now in charge of what goes in the pot. That means a few changes. Sorry mom.
She originally includes no potatoes, but why on earth would you do that. The potato is the most perfect vegetable in the world, and the addition of it can only mean good things. I remember her only using full carrots-but I am just too lazy for that, and usually end up just slicing baby carrots in half. Less peeling that way. I tend to dislike celery, so I don’t know if I really include the full cup…Her recipe calls for 1 large can of tomatoes, but I dislike the mushiness that ensues, and use instead some fresh tomatoes I’ve diced. Yeah, they have skins. Whatever.
Her recipe also calls for white sugar, but definitely use brown sugar instead. It hangs out with the carrots and the beef better.I always used to think that brown sugar was better for you than white sugar…I mean, brown rice is better for you than white rice, people seem to think brown eggs are better for you…I think the only difference is bleaching. I don’t know. I’m no scientist.
One major thing I’d added is a generous splash of Worcestershire sauce. I don’t think you can mess up by putting Worcestershire sauce in anything.
Ok. I can think of a few things you can mess up…
Mom’s recipe has only 1/2 a rutabaga, but I love the things. I’ll just chop the whole thing in there. If you’re scared of Rutabaga, don’t be. It’s one of the strangest and most amazing vegetables. It’s like a cross between a potato, onion, and an apple, and it’s the one I’d rather eat raw than the rest of the three. The thing about Rutabagas though is they are pretty tricky to figure out. They’re a very hard spherical bulb, so that makes chopping difficult. They’re also dipped in wax, generally, to preserve their freshness. There are a bunch of ways to get that wax off, including peeling with a peeler and slicing right off. However, I think the easiest way is to cut the Rutabaga into discs and then just snip off the surrounding wax.
The cool thing about Rutabaga is that they are kind of like Tofu-they work with whatever you put them in. You can make smashed Rutabagas and then alter the flavor by making them savory with butter and salt, or sweet with milk and brown sugar. You can bake them into your apple pies and they will take on the flavor of the cinnamon and sugar. I’m pretty much a big fan.
See? Like that.
One last thing I crazily added one day that I will never go without again-Apple Juice. It just felt right. Heck, next time I might add some apples in.
1 lb. Stew Meat
1 Bunch Carrots
1 Cup Celery
1 Large Onion
1 Small Rutabaga
2 Large Potatoes
1 T Brown Sugar
1 T Salt
3 Cloves Garlic
2 Medium Tomatoes
1 Big ol’ splash Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Cup Apple Juice
Chop onion, Celery, and Tomatoes to a medium dice. Remove the wax from your Rutabaga and cut into cubes a little smaller than 1 inch. Cut your potatoes to same size.
Crush garlic and dice it.
Peel and cut carrots 1/4 inch thick.
Add all vegetables to slow cooker, add meat, salt, and sugar.
Pour your apple juice over top and splash in that Worcestershire sauce.
Give it a toss, turn slow cooker to high (6 hours), and let it rock.
Do you remember Stu, the dad from Rugrats? He went on to do the voice overs for a bunch of country crock commercials. I always recognized his voice and thought, hey, that’s the dad from Rugrats…..This is a different stew.

Lookit all the pretty oranges in there, and that broth is really sweet and nice from the sugar and apple juice…OK Maybe just one closer one…
Ok why are these images loading all funky? They have a weird 70s film color to them. I promise if the food looks rancid, it is Blogspot's fault, and not mine. Make this stew and eat it outside on the porch. I promise you won't regret it :)

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