Friday, February 4, 2011

Discovering the Magic of a Slow Cooker ala Beef Stew

February 3: Dinner

This past Christmas offered some opportunities to upgrade my kitchen supplies with gift cards to places like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. Though I had to buy some necessities, I did indulge in my first ever slow cooker, a sizeable Crock Pot that would be a nice addition to my appliance closet. It was a little intimidating when I got it home, as most new kitchen gadgets are to a newby cooking enthusiast like me, so it sat untouched for a month.

Finally, I bought Betty Crocker's Big Book of Slow Cooker Casseroles & More, and I was inspired.

I wasn’t sure where to start, but I finally picked a relatively simple-looking Korean beef stew. And of course, I cut the recipe in half. Even sharing the meal with two neighbors didn’t warrant the full recipe of 6 servings.

Basics: Placed 1 pound beef stew meat cut into 1-inch pieces, 8 oz. peeled baby carrots, 3 chopped green onions, 1 chopped garlic clove, ¼ cup tomato juice, 1/8 cup soy sauce, 1.5 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and ground black pepper to taste in the slow cooker. Covered and cooked on low for 8 hours. mixed 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 2 teaspoons cold water together, then blended into beef mixture and cooked on high for 20 more minutes.

I served it with 2 cups of rice that puffed up nicely in my rice cooker.

The dinner was quite good. The ingredients were cooked through and served toasty warm. In my opinion, the beef may have been a little overdone, so in turn for cutting the recipe in half, I should have cut down the cook time more than I did. But my guests enjoyed it very much, and one even ate a decent amount of carrots, a vegetable that she usually avoids

The slow cooker is a magical instrument! The only downside is that it taunted me all day. I work from home, and the smells became stronger as the day went on, and the micro-manager in me wanted to keep lifting the lid to look and stir. I maintained my composure most of the day, but I gave in to my urges more than once. It was tough to believe that it was just cooking on a low setting all day to produce a stew, but it did.

I’m hooked!

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