February 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew

I have said it before, and I will say it again: I love mushrooms. LOVE.

This stew is very beefy but also has a ton of mushrooms and is quite a crowd pleaser. I made this for Matthew and my 3rd annual Christmas Party as a step up from the Hungarian mushroom soup I made the prior two years. I wanted to make something I didn't have to hover over while getting ready for the party! I forgot to take pictures the first time but luckily I had a special request to make it again recently and made sure to document thoroughly. The recipe makes a ton of food, so serve it for a dinner party!

The recipe I used is from Sunset magazine and I found it on MyRecipes.com. I didn't follow the instructions to a T, mainly because I am a pretty lazy cook and look for shortcuts wherever I can.

This is a little more work than a normal slow cooker recipe, simply because you make a sauce to pour over the meat and cook the mushrooms separately. But don't be discouraged! The stew is definitely worth it. To make it easy on myself this last time, I made the sauce and poured it over the meat the night before and let it marinate all night in the refrigerator. In the morning before work, I turned the slow cooker on and when I got home from work I cooked the mushrooms. It worked out perfectly and made it seem like less work.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

-3 pounds boned, fat-trimmed beef chuck
-1 orange (2 1/2 in. wide), rinsed
-1 onion (about 8 oz.), peeled and finely chopped
-3 cloves garlic, chopped
-About 1 cup beef or chicken broth
-1 cup red wine
-1/2 cup port
-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-1 teaspoon dried thyme
-5 very thin slices of peeled fresh ginger (quarter size)
-2 pounds mushrooms
-3 tablespoons butter
-1/4 cup flour
-Salt and (lots of) pepper

1. Rinse meat; cut into 3 to 4 inch lengths (for chuck, about 1 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches wide) and place in a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker.
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2. With a vegetable peeler, pare orange part of peel from orange and sliver it; save orange for other uses.
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3. In a 2-quart sauce pan, combine orange peel slivers, chopped onion, 1 cup broth, wine, port, vinegar, soy sauce, thyme, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat.
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4. Pour liquid over meat. Turn slow cooker to low.
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5. Put cover on slow cooker and cook on low until meat is very tender when pierced, 6 to 7 hours.

6. Rinse and drain mushrooms; trim off and discard stem ends. Cut mushrooms into quarters and place in a 12 inch frying pan with butter.
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7. Skim off and discard fat from liquid in slow cooker. Ladle 1 cup of liquid from slow cooker into pan with mushrooms. Stir mushrooms often over high heat until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are lightly browned, 13 to 17 minutes.
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8. When your mushrooms are almost finished (liquid almost evaporated), eyeball the remaining liquid in the slow cooker. There should be plenty of liquid covering the meat, about 2 cups. If you think you don't have enough liquid, add some broth. You want the meat to still be covered with liquid. (Sorry I forgot to take a picture of this!)

9. Add the cooked mushrooms to the slow-cooker.

10. In a small bowl, mix flour with about a cup of the hot liquid from the slow cooker. Whisk vigorously until flour is dissolved. Pour evenly over meat and mix gently to blend with liquid still in slow cooker, trying not to break up the meat too much. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the mushrooms and meat mingle together for about 20 minutes in slow cooker.

11. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or rice! (I prefer potatoes to rice, and haven't tried egg noodles but think it would be delicious!)
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February 21, 2011

Winter Comfort in a Bowl-Vegetable and Sausage Cobbler

This is one of those recipes that surprises you with its astounding goodness. In search of something wintery and cozy to serve my craft night buddies I had been sitting on this recipe from Moosewood Cookbook called Vegetable Cobbler. It sounded a tad strange since I've only had cobblers of the sweet kind. But I figured it had biscuits on top and well, as you may know from my last post, biscuits are one of my favorite foods.

The result was something so cozy and delicious that it sent some folks back for seconds. We decided it was a cross between Shepard's pie and chicken pot pie. I'm really glad I took a chance on this one as it's definitely something I'll be making again and again (I ended up making it again 5 nights later). I added some basil garlic chicken sausage to the recipe and altered the vegetables I used a bit as I wasn't in the mood for corn or white potatoes. And if you don't fancy yourself a baker don't let the biscuit part scare you; drop biscuits don't require any rolling out or cutting. Here is the recipe as I made it.

Vegetable and Chicken Sausage Cobbler
adapted from the Moosewood Classics Cookbook
Serves 6
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil (or butter)
  • 1.5 lbs bulk basil garlic chicken sausage (or any type of ground meat you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions (about 1 large onion)
  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 to 5 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes (or butternut squash)
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped carrots (or parsnips)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups mushroom stock
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of hot sauce (optional)

Biscuit Topping:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (I used nonfat yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (or any herb you have on hand)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.

2. Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the sausage and saute just until all of the pink is gone. Remove the sausage and all of its juices and set aside in a bowl to add back later. Warm the other tablespoon of oil in the same pan. Add the onions, fennel and garlic, cover, and cook on medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the salt, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, mushrooms and mustard. Cook until the mushrooms start to release their juices, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the sweet potato, carrot, black pepper and water or stock, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

5. Stir the dissolved cornstarch mixture into the simmering vegetables, stirring constantly. When the liquid starts to thicken, mix in the peas, soy sauce and salt. Add the cooked sausage back to the pot. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. (You can also add a dash of hot sauce.)

6. Pour the vegetable/sausage mixture into the prepared baking dish, and set aside.

7. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter and buttermilk or yogurt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients with as few strokes as possible to make a soft dough.

8. Drop the biscuit batter over the vegetables in the dish in six equal mounds. Sprinkle the dill over the dough.

9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of a biscuit comes out clean. Serve immediately.


Into the oven it goes