The summer has abruptly ended on the west coast; last night’s rain brought morning fog and a damp chill to the air.
Switching cooking gears from a dinner of fresh garden produce to liberating the crock pot from the back of the cupboard was foremost on my mind this morning.
I took myself to the store and selected two blade (formerly chuck) steaks and came home to create a sumptuous and savoury slow-cooked stew.
Everyone has their own comfort food; this is mine.
Making stew is simple, especially in a crock pot. All that is required is a few veggies, the beef, seasonings, and a bit of water. Bung it all in, cover, and let the magic happen.
But what is the fun in that? Cooking is not a means to an end; the process is just as important as the result.
So here is how I go about it.
First, cut up the meat with a sharp knife into varied chunks:
Note the marble! This is very important. If the meat is too lean it will not produce the desired savoury flavour and mouth-watering tenderness.
Next, dredge in seasoned flour:
I keep this mixture in the freezer and use it for lots of things (fried chicken, gravy, deep fried pork). I used about 2 Tb. for today’s stew. The flour is seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried mustard, ground ginger, smoked paprika, celery seed, celery salt, and oregano.
The next step is THE most important. As I said before, the process is paramount. By browning the flour-coated chunks you will not only improve the flavour, but you will create a sauce to add to the crock pot.
It takes about 10 minutes on medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet. You do not want to poach it, so keep the heat up and gently stir to brown all sides.
While the meat is browning, chop the veg thusly:
And put it in the crock pot with seasomings. Today I used a package of dried vegetable soup mix.
Add the meat and stir to combine:
The next step is the coup de grace!
By adding a little water to the browned bits in the pan, adjusting the seasoning and letting it all come to a boil,you will create a wonderful flavour base for your stew. Check out my video link here: pan dripping reduction.
Once the reduction is thickened, pour it over meat in the crock pot and add water.
Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Or you can do this before work or school, and cook on low for 8 hours. But add a bit more water so it doesn’t dry out.
Whichever method, you will be rewarded with a delicious stew for dinner.
September is my favourite month. And tonight we will celebrate with a comforting meal as the rain falls and the leaves start to drop.
I hope you make this for your family and enjoy it as much as we do 🙂