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.

Results:
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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