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Ishara
11-08-2011, 02:17 PM
Okay all, it's dark out all the time now, it's getting colder and damper by the day - let's talk about winter cooking.

I'm on a mission to make a really excellent beef stew without all the fuss of beef bourginon. But the crockpost beef stew I made last week with a method that always been true to me landed me with grayish meat and tastless broth. Not rich, not tasty and not very nice. Help me out. How do you use your crockpot over the winter?

Gilshalos Sedai
11-08-2011, 02:20 PM
Making a roast, mostly. Or the beef sauce for lasagna, or tortilla soup.

I haven't attempted beef stew, though. But it sounds like you might have just overcooked yours.

Davian93
11-08-2011, 02:28 PM
There's no such thing as overcooking beef stew. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors should come out...like a good chili. The key with beef stew is using a piece of roast and then breaking it apart AFTER it has been cooked. It will be far more tender that way than if you use "stew meat" chunks.

Also, seasoning more seasoning and then some more seasoning helps. Butter is a good addition too. Also, add a can of diced tomatoes. The acid and sweetness of the tomatoes will really draw it all together.

Davian93
11-08-2011, 02:30 PM
Other crock pot uses: Make a roast on day 1 and then turn the leftovers into a soup by adding things like corn, green beans, and some sort of pasta (basically whatever I have laying around whether its elbow macaroni or orso). Rice is also a good fill in.

I also like making corned beef and cabbage in the winter as well as things like pulled pork in the crock pot.

The Unreasoner
11-08-2011, 02:35 PM
I'm on a mission to make a really excellent beef stew without all the fuss of beef bourginon. But the crockpost beef stew I made last week with a method that always been true to me landed me with grayish meat and tastless broth. Not rich, not tasty and not very nice. Help me out.
What was different this time around?

I like to make braised short ribs. I make a boatload and freeze them.

Bones are the key to flavor. And so is fat. I take some bacon, chop it up, cook it in a skillet. Then I carmelize some onions in the fat, and sear some chopped carrots and turnips in it too. After that I sear some floured and seasoned bone-in short ribs in the fat, then I toss it all in the pot. Pour a bottle of red wine in there (maybe a bottle and a half, go with your gut), some equal amount beef broth, salt, pepper, garlic, a few bay leaves. Turn it on low, then I head to work. 12 hours later I skim off the fat, pull out the meat an bacon and vegetables, toss the bay leaves, and reduce the cooking liquid a bit. Whisk in some butter to the sauce before serving. And just pour it right over the ribs and veggies (and bacon)

ETA:
Thanks Davian. I forgot about the tomatoes. I throw in a can of chopped tomatoes too.

Davian93
11-08-2011, 02:37 PM
Bacon makes everything better.

So do shallots.

Another key thing to remember with cuts of meat is to cut off the sinewy tough fat but leave the good fat. One adds flavor while the other ruins it.

ETA:
Thanks Davian. I forgot about the tomatoes. I throw in a can of chopped tomatoes too.


I literally by cases of diced tomatoes from Costco because I used them so much.

The Unreasoner
11-08-2011, 02:40 PM
Polenta is great too. It takes forever to do it right, but a kitchen's best kept secret is that you dont have to stir it (though it can be a pain to clean up after). If you make those short ribs then serve it over polenta, maybe grate some parm on top, you win.

Gilshalos Sedai
11-08-2011, 02:44 PM
There's no such thing as overcooking beef stew. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors should come out...like a good chili. The key with beef stew is using a piece of roast and then breaking it apart AFTER it has been cooked. It will be far more tender that way than if you use "stew meat" chunks.

Also, seasoning more seasoning and then some more seasoning helps. Butter is a good addition too. Also, add a can of diced tomatoes. The acid and sweetness of the tomatoes will really draw it all together.

You have clearly never had my mother's beef stew.

The Unreasoner
11-08-2011, 02:45 PM
Bacon makes everything better.

So do shallots.
They sure do. Whenever you need onions, if you have shallots on hand, feel free to do a full or partial substitution.

Another key thing to remember with cuts of meat is to cut off the sinewy tough fat but leave the good fat. One adds flavor while the other ruins it.
Yup. Boned meat is great too. Especially with marrow. And the longer the better.
I literally by cases of diced tomatoes from Costco because I used them so much.
Easily my favorite fruit, tomatoes are.

Davian93
11-08-2011, 02:46 PM
Yup. Boned meat is great too. Especially with marrow. And the longer the better.


Which is why Osso Bucco is probably the greatest beef dish in the world despite using a very cheap cut of meat. Mmm...marrowy goodness.

The Unreasoner
11-08-2011, 02:50 PM
Exactly.
I said 'short rib' but I meant that.

Like this:
http://www.cookeatfret.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/cy-osso-bucco2.JPG
Served over polenta.
My recipe makes a redder (and probably richer) sauce, but the central theme is the same

ETA:
Just line a crock pot with the things in the morning. Sear them first, of course. Then throw in your aromatics and your root vegetables and your bacon, red wine, beef stock, tomatoes, pepper, salt, bay leaves. have dinner a little over 12 hours later. It freezes great.

Davian93
11-08-2011, 02:51 PM
I make it over saffron risotto usually...with a side of carrots, potatoes and shallots braised with it in the liquid.

Ishara
11-08-2011, 03:35 PM
There's no such thing as overcooking beef stew. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors should come out...like a good chili. The key with beef stew is using a piece of roast and then breaking it apart AFTER it has been cooked. It will be far more tender that way than if you use "stew meat" chunks.

Also, seasoning more seasoning and then some more seasoning helps. Butter is a good addition too. Also, add a can of diced tomatoes. The acid and sweetness of the tomatoes will really draw it all together.

I've always used stewing beef for the crockpot stew. We do a really (really) great pot roat, so maybe I'll do what you suggest and turn the leftovers into stew...

And I did season (oregano, basil, a teeny bit of cumin, pepper and a bay leaf, but the one thing I did differently was use low-sodium broth. Blech. Never again.

I loathe cooked tomatoes, but my sister suggested the very same thing, so I guess I'll give it a go. What do you think about substituting tomato paste instead? All the flavour and thickness without all the nasty muchy cooked tomatoes?

Oooh...and another thought to make it thick and awesome was a roux - what say you?

Also, what fat do you put into your stew? Butter for flavour, or oil? I use a little olive oil in the bottom, but may switch to butter.

Which is why Osso Bucco is probably the greatest beef dish in the world despite using a very cheap cut of meat. Mmm...marrowy goodness.
I had the very best Osso Bucco I have EVER had in my life in Italy on the honeymoon. It was ridiculously velvety and tender and oh, so marrowy. Mmmmm.


ETA:
Just line a crock pot with the things in the morning. Sear them first, of course. Then throw in your aromatics and your root vegetables and your bacon, red wine, beef stock, tomatoes, pepper, salt, bay leaves. have dinner a little over 12 hours later. It freezes great.
Ah, but that's contentious! Some say yes to searing, some say no. I seared for colour this time around and got pull apart meat that was way chewier than it should have been. Bacon in stew is silly. You may as well use pork butt. The thing that makes bacon so awesome is the smoky crispiness - which you lose the second you soak in stuff. Then it just becomes a vaguely smoky tasting piece of pork fat. Yuck. But yes, I tend to make it up the night before, stick it in the fridge overnight and pop it in the crockpot in the morning. Easy peasy.

Also, have you used crockpot liners? Cause they are teh awesome. No more washing out leftovers for me! Just tie up the bag, toss it, wipe down the pot and you're good to go!

Sei'taer
11-08-2011, 03:45 PM
The key to beef stew, imo, is seasoning and searing the meat before putting it in the crockpot. I also like to put some dark beer with the broth. Usuallly a half bottle of becks dark or guiness is the way I go...then somebody has to finish the other half (dammit). I do the same thing with roast, but use a lager instead because I don't want the thick barley taste.

Also, Bay leaves. Everybody forgets bay leaves.

Ivhon
11-08-2011, 03:58 PM
Winter?

The Unreasoner
11-08-2011, 04:25 PM
I loathe cooked tomatoes, but my sister suggested the very same thing, so I guess I'll give it a go. What do you think about substituting tomato paste instead? All the flavour and thickness without all the nasty muchy cooked tomatoes?
Well, when you're cooking in the 10+ hour range, it makes little difference. The onions and shallots will have practically disintegrated, so will the tomatoes. But I would think paste would be just as well.
Oooh...and another thought to make it thick and awesome was a roux - what say you?

Depends on everything else. I generally like to make my cooking liquid thick by reduction, but occasionally I find roux works better (usually for non-stew sauces though).
Also, what fat do you put into your stew? Butter for flavour, or oil? I use a little olive oil in the bottom, but my may switch to butter.

I throw butter in at the end. But the main fat in the mix while its cooking is bacon.
Ah, but that's contentious! Some say yes to searing, some say no. I seared for colour this time around and got pull apart meat that was way chewier than it should have been.
Hmm. I had no idea this was a contentious issue. It's up to you, of course. My guess would be that you seared stew meat pieces rather than a few larger cuts. Searing can seize meats up, and the smaller pieces faster. It's important to remember that you aren't trying to cook the meat through at all when searing. Searing does caramelize some sugars and activate some enzymes that generally makes it tastier.
Bacon in stew is silly. You may as well use pork butt. The thing that makes bacon so awesome is the smoky crispiness - which you lose the second you soak in stuff. Then it just becomes a vaguely smoky tasting piece of pork fat. Yuck.
It's up to you, of course. I find that the smokiness adds to the cooking liquid, and the fat adds a great deal of flavor. It'll mostly disintegrate anyway. Especially if you chop it up first. You could just use pork butt, I suppose, but cured bacon does some things regular pork butt would not. There is a reason most beef bourginon recipes call for bacon or pancetta.
Also, have you used crockpot liners? Cause they are teh awesome. No more washing out leftovers for me! Just tie up the bag, toss it, wipe down the pot and you're good to go!
I haven't, but I am intrigued. Do they last long enough for cooking in the 12 hour range?

Tomp
11-08-2011, 04:43 PM
A traditional swedish beef stew is called Kalops.


1 kg (~2 lb) common beef meat(in 1-2 inch pieces)
2-3 carrots
2 onions
4-5 dl (~1 1/2 - 2 cups) water
2 bayleafs
10 whole allspice
1 1/2 - 2 tea sp salt
3-4 tbl.sp flour
1 1/2 dl (1/2 - 2/3 cups) water


Brown the meat
Transfer it to a pot.
Add the first amount of water
Add bayleafs, salt and Allspice
Lid on - up to boiling
Let it simmer for 1 - 1/2 hours
Add sliced carrots and wedged onions
Lid on - up to boiling
Let it simmer for 1/2 hour
Mix the flour (really well) with the second amount of water
Strain it (to get rid of flour lumps) into the stew
Taste it

Traditionally served with potatoes and pickled beatroots alternatively lingonberry jam (cranberry jam would probably work as well)

Enjoy and don't blame me if you screw it up.

Davian93
11-08-2011, 05:02 PM
One thing I did differently was use low-sodium broth.

~shudders~ Yup, that was a mistake.

What do you think about substituting tomato paste instead?

I prefer diced as I think they have better flavor and I tend to get the ones with garlic/onion added in too.


Also, what fat do you put into your stew? Butter for flavour, or oil? I use a little olive oil in the bottom, but may switch to butter.

I sear the meat in butter, then deglaze with some red wine in the pan, quickly cook the shallots/carrot/celery mix in that for maybe 60-120 seconds and then dump it all in the crock pot.

Ah, but that's contentious! Some say yes to searing, some say no. I seared for colour this time around and got pull apart meat that was way chewier than it should have been.

Always sear...it adds flavoring through the carmelization process if nothing else. The key is to have the pan be super hot and to not let it sear too long...you want sear with rawness on the inside. It will tenderize in the stew at that point.

Bacon in stew is silly.

Bacon is never silly, dear.

Also, have you used crockpot liners? Cause they are teh awesome. No more washing out leftovers for me! Just tie up the bag, toss it, wipe down the pot and you're good to go!

Yeah, they are nice depending on what you're making. I dont usually use them but I do like the lack of cleaning up with them.

I generally like to make my cooking liquid thick by reduction

I just let it reduce too...maybe add some cornflour to thicken it if absolutely necessary. I find that a roux cuts down on the flavor somewhat.

I suppose, but cured bacon does some things regular pork butt would not. There is a reason most beef bourginon recipes call for bacon or pancetta.

I agree...I like to sometimes sear the meat in the bacon grease and just dump that in...dont even really need the bacon itself.

Also, Bay leaves. Everybody forgets bay leaves.

Agreed, stew just doesnt taste right without them. Also agreed on the adding of dark beer. That's a good way to go too.

Gilshalos Sedai
11-08-2011, 07:28 PM
Winter?

Hey, it's supposed to drop down to the 60s for two whole DAYS this week!

I may need to break out my parka! :D

Cor Shan
11-08-2011, 07:41 PM
Crockpot pulled pork

Pork shoulder
Cayenne/Paprika, maybe some cumin, garlic, onion, salt

Braise for like 8 hrs in apple cider vinegar +tomatoes + a bit of BBQ sauce

remove, tear up, eat in corn tortillas.

Davian93
11-08-2011, 07:42 PM
Crockpot pulled pork

Pork shoulder
Cayenne/Paprika, maybe some cumin, garlic, onion, salt

Braise for like 8 hrs in apple cider vinegar +tomatoes + a bit of BBQ sauce

remove, tear up, eat in corn tortillas.

Crockpot pulled pork is ridiculously good.

I will try that recipe.

Cor Shan
11-08-2011, 08:40 PM
I love it since it lasts like 2-3 days if I buy a 2-3 kilo roast, so then I barely need to cook. Plus if you fry it just enough that it gets crispy bits its amazing.

Ishara
11-09-2011, 07:37 AM
Seems like butter searing the meat and using tomato paste is the way to go next time. I will say that liquid doesn't reduce in a crockpot though - that's sort of the point. So I'd have to decant the crockpot and cook it down further, which sort of defeats the purpose of the crockpot. I think I'll just rely on the less (and better) liquid method.

Crockpot liners are AWESOME. They are very durable and easy to insert/ remove. Not the cheapest things in the world (sold in boxes of 5), but well worth not having to take the damn pot and its friends to the carwash...LOL.

Davian93
11-09-2011, 07:41 AM
Does your crock pot ceramic come out? If so, its easy to just soak it overnight. After that, it's a fairly straight-forward cleaning process.

For reducing, just crack the lid for the final couple hours. All that steam that was being held in evaporates out.

Or use less liquid I guess.

Ishara
11-09-2011, 07:50 AM
Ha - yes, we do. But we also have a problem in the house of someone (hint: NOT me) not liking leftovers. And someone else who doesn't love to clean things out of containers if someone put them in there with no intention of actually eating them. Sometimes the remnants could sit for ... a while. We had an incident early on in our co-habitation involving lentil soup that lived in a pot in the back of the fridge for ... a while. It took the exchange of grilled cheese to get that pot out of my fridge and to the self-wash car wash for cleaning. WELL worth it.

Since then, we use liners. :D

Davian93
11-09-2011, 07:55 AM
Been there before...one time I opened my fridge to this:


http://www.gbfans.com/images/ghostbusters/screen-caps/28.jpg

SauceyBlueConfetti
11-09-2011, 12:29 PM
My mom used a crockpot all the time. I have been unsucessful with most attempts. The only things that work well so far are Chili, pulled pork, soup and keeping dips hot.

:(

I even bought a cookbook, but everything was TOO TIME CONSUMING or required 6 zillion ingredients. I want recipes where I can just toss a bunch of stuff in, turn it on and leave.

More recipes from our foodie crew would be welcome :) Kinda makes me laugh that the GUYS on here seem to be the better cooks.

EDIT oh and Dav, AWESOME. lololol I have to spread rep around, it won't let me rep ya for that one.

Ishara
11-09-2011, 03:42 PM
Curry Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Coconut Rice (http://www.workitmom.com/bloggers/orderingdisorder/2008/02/21/in-the-crockpot-chicken-curry-with-sweet-potatoes-and-coconut-rice/)

This is one of my favourite crockpot recipes ever. I love it!

Figbiscuit
11-10-2011, 09:29 AM
I am relatively new to the whole slow cooker experience, despite my sister buying me one for Christmas about 4 years ago I have only just started using it.

I mostly just cook either chilli or curry in it. Chilli I would fry off the minced beef first else it stays a bit clumpy, but if I'm doing a chicken curry I will just throw the chicken pieces in as they are, or if I'm very organised then I'll marinade the chicken with the spices and whatever veg I'm adding (usually tomatoes, onion & garlic) in the fridge over night.

Other than that I agree with Saucey that everything seems to need about 8 billion ingredients which I don't have, so haven't experimented much with anything else. Some of your recipes look interesting tho, might have to start being a bit more adventurous.

And also Ish? This:

It took the exchange of grilled cheese to get that pot out of my fridge and to the self-wash car wash for cleaning. WELL worth it.

Since then, we use liners. :D

:D

Figbiscuit
11-10-2011, 09:30 AM
Oh hang on, I've just remembered I did a steak and gorgonzola pie filling which was AWESOME. Would definitely try that again, even though I cheated hugely and used Bisto gravy granules to make my stock...

Gilshalos Sedai
11-10-2011, 09:36 AM
Been there before...one time I opened my fridge to this:


http://www.gbfans.com/images/ghostbusters/screen-caps/28.jpg

You owe my company a new monitor, Dav. I just spit water all over my desk.

Ishara
11-10-2011, 12:06 PM
@Fig

That's funny, I had the same reaction. :D

Oh hang on, I've just remembered I did a steak and gorgonzola pie filling which was AWESOME. Would definitely try that again, even though I cheated hugely and used Bisto gravy granules to make my stock...

Ooooh. So, you made the filling the in the crockpot and then put it in a pie for baking? Cause that sounds epic! Recipe?

The Unreasoner
11-10-2011, 06:06 PM
How narrow is this thread's scope, Ishara?
Because I have a great french onion soup recipe, and some awesome roasted chicken winter recipes.

But, RE crock pot:
Fondue is great fun. get some fruit, toast some bread, slice a steak. I had a little date night last weekend, and did a little fondue picnic while watching some (lousy) movies. Went over well.

Davian93
11-10-2011, 06:12 PM
There is no narrowness on a Food thread...please post both recipes.


If you do not, I will attempt to permaban you for failing to share.

Cor Shan
11-11-2011, 02:17 AM
The side effects of a board where 50% of the population are mods :D

Sei'taer
11-11-2011, 09:37 AM
I made my first calzone ever last night. I was pretty pleased with it.

Figbiscuit
11-12-2011, 09:41 AM
@Fig

That's funny, I had the same reaction. :D



Ooooh. So, you made the filling the in the crockpot and then put it in a pie for baking? Cause that sounds epic! Recipe?

Exactly right.

I kind of made it up as I went along really. Got some chunks of steak, threw it in uncooked with a little salt and pepper and some rosemary and thyme, and made a thick beef stock with aforementioned gravy granules, and then left it on a low cook for about 5 hours or so, and for the last hour I added some chunks of gorgonzola - a generous amount, which all melted through and then put it in a pie dish with some pastry over and baked in the oven for about 30 minutes or so. Served with some roast potatoes and roast veg, and it was pronounced good.

In fact, I've just remembered I also caramelised some onions in a fying pan with a little butter and brown sugar for about 30 minutes and layered that in too, so pie filling, layer of onions and then pastry.

And now I want to make it again.

The Unreasoner
11-14-2011, 02:47 PM
There is no narrowness on a Food thread...please post both recipes.


If you do not, I will attempt to permaban you for failing to share.
Well, I don't want to get banned again, so I suppose I will post.:D

The chicken:
This one's more about technique than content, you brine and truss the chicken, and avoid basting it while it's roasting (you can throw some tinfoil over it if it's cooking too fast). The stuffing is made by cooking some fine diced carrots, chopped leeks, chopped onion, and chopped garlic in butter, then brown some sausage in the mix. throw in some mushrooms (as much as the sausage, by weight(1 lb); and the more wild, the better), let them cook down. then you want a cup of red wine (a burgundy), a quarter cup vinegar, and a half cup orange juice. after you stir all that together, add 2 cups chicken broth, chopped sage, salt and pepper. once the liquid reduces down a fair bit, add some unflavored bread crumbs (a fair bit, about equal to a little less than half the volume of everything else) let it all cook down until you get all the liquid absorbed and reduced. The end result should be moist, but crumbly.

Make the stuffing while the chicken's brining, then stuff the bird(s) and roast.



The soup:
this one's not exactly a pain in the ass, but it's just time-consuming enough that I always think twice before making it. However, I've never been disappointed, so no regrets.

The time consuming thing is cooking the onions. But, don't rush it. It'll take a little over three hours, with you stirring 3-4 times an hour. But:
Slice four pounds of onions into 1/4 inch thick slices, laterally, then chop the slices (but not too small. 4-5 sections per slice). Melt an 1/8th pound butter in a pot, then throw in the onions. cook on low, stirring occasionally, until done. (about three hours. you don't want any 'bite' left anywhere. you want it all like onion candy mush, but a piece should still have its shape)

While the onions are cooking, take three quarts beef broth and start simmering it in another pot. throw in a few bay leaves, some black pepper (or whole peppercorns), 5 or so thyme sprigs, no more than four cloves, a few dashes of tabasco, a few tablespoons of vinegar, a pinch of sugar, a can of a (non dark) beer, and if you want, a few dashes of soy sauce. If you don't have (or don't want) soy sauce, salt works too, but soy sauce is great here. anyway let this simmer but don't let it reduce. after the onions are done, throw 2 tablespoons flour in with the onions, and some more butter if you need it. turn the heat up slightly on the onions (medium) and stir until the flour is fully incorporated. then, strain the beef broth mixture into the pot with onions. discard the cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, etc.

Now add a quarter cup ketchup, a half cup milk, some garlic powder, and salt and pepper to this mix. stir and let simmer for an hour or so, then take off the lid and let it reduce by about half.

Done! Enjoy!