Sunday, February 14, 2010

More Snow Coming!

For all you out here in the NorthEast with me, we have even more snow coming tomorrow evening into the next day.  Here in Philly we have had the snowiest winter on record and every state in the US, except Hawaii, has had some amount of snow this winter.  While we have had only a few days above freezing recently, it is the perfect time to bring out the crockpot.

My mom used the big avocado green crockpot often in our house and now I use my big white one to make a number of slow cooked yummies:  beans, stock, stuffed pepper, stew, & lots more.  I made a great beef stew that fills your home with the smell of simmering tastiness - great to come in to from out of the cold.

First thing I did was brown the meat filling my apartment with the great smell.  You get a better color on the meat if you make sure it's nice and dry.  I mix s&p with some flour, dredge the meat in the flour, and drop it in a nice hot pan with a lil olive oil.  Cook it in batches so you don't crowd the meat or you'll just end up steaming the meat & it will never brown.  Just brown the meat, do not cook it thru.

After you toss the browned meat in the crockpot you'll have a pan of fat, lovely brown bits, & some of the flour that came off the meat with the fat.  DO NOT THROW THIS AWAY!  I cooked some onions in the same pan with all that flavor.  Then opened my last bottle of red wine I got in the Côte d'Azur in Southern France (and giving myself a good reason to go back - as if a reason is needed) and pour in a cup or so into the pan to simmer the onions in.  While the wine was simmering, I cut up some of the freshest looking carrots I have ever had and some potatoes into nice big chunks so they wouldn't just fall apart and disappear during the slow cooking.  With the flour from the meat in the pan, the wine reduction got nice and thick.  Every thing goes into the slow cooker.

I added a couple cans of whole tomatoes hand squished (be careful - I ruined my white tank top when one tomato squirted back at me), some more wine, some pressed garlic, thyme, & a couple bay leafs.  I set the cooker to go low & slow for 8 hours and left the house to run a full day of errands in the bitter cold.  Coming home to the smell of the stew - the tomatoes, wine, thyme & bay - filling my warm apartment was just perfect.  With a little slice of crusty bread at the bottom of the bowl, I ladled the warm thick stew into the bowl.  The meat was so tender that it easily fell apart with a simple twist of the fork.  The potatoes & carrots cooked all the way thru but stayed together.  A perfect stew, in my humble opinion.

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