Hey know what’s neat? When you finally get the chance to settle in and cook your tail off and write your blog again, and then right in the middle of cooking a giant turkey for Thanksgiving (Canadians have theirs earlier than yours, America, calm down, it’s a real thing), your fancy dual ovens decide to blow a fuse and quit on you. BBQ turkey, anyone? I hope Julia Child has enough room in that grave for all the rolling around she’s doing.
This whole owning a house thing is a little different than condo life, meaning there is no magic phone number to call for someone else to take care of your problems and you actually have to deal with things like broken ovens “yourself” (this will always be code for Husband Does This). This is even more problematic when you’ve already given “yourself” a doozy of a to-do list requiring the assembly of a house’s worth of furniture, getting rid of the tree that fell in the yard during the last storm, putting up baby gates to keep the terror confined, and decorating the house for Hallowe’en because “you” want to make a good impression in your new neighbourhood. Although I’m pretty sure the towering grim reaper we have on our stoop is probably going too far, but hey, at least we’ll have lots of leftover Hallowe’en candy.
So me and the ol’ slow-cooker have become good buds lately. Slow-cooking food has only one con in my opinion, and that’s that you basically have to figure out what you want to have for dinner at like 10am and get it going so it’s ready when you want to eat at the geriatric time of 5pm(we have a baby, so the way it works is take the actual time on the clock and add 3 hours to it, because 5pm feels like 8, and 9 is when we ring in the New Year. It’s baby jet-lag. All good, I hear it goes away in 12 years). The pros of slow-cooking are many: delicious smells wafting through the house, super tender melt-in-your-mouth meats with delectable sauces in the bottom of the pot just screaming to be turned into a gravy you’ll regret eating later, and the main course pretty much ready to be served when you get home after a long day of working. (That’s you. I’ve been home all day because my life revolves around my baby’s naps. Cool, cool.)
So here’s a delightful beef stew for your hard-working self that is actually super easy and crazy tasty. Plus side: your kids will like it, too. Or at least mine does. Mine also eats sticks and Kleenex though, full disclosure.
PS. Quick note to husbands and partners in general who do the things we don’t feel like doing, specifically Charlie:
Thank you. I love you. You are perfect and wonderful and every day you give me another reason to love you even more. And that chandelier isn’t going to assemble itself.
Lazy Beef Stew
1 1/2 lbs chunks of beef stewing meat- I buy the high quality stuff (organic whenever possible) because you can really taste the difference when it comes to your proteins. Get something with some fat in it, like sirloin if you can, or whatever cuts are prepackaged at the grocery store specifically for stews. Just don’t do tenderloin. Fat = good. Capisce?
4 slices of bacon, diced
1/2 cup beef stock
2 carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
6 or 7 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp worcestershire sauce (a few shakes, no need to measure, it’ll be okay)
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of thyme
Heat a large pan over high heat with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, then remove it with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add it to the pan to brown in all that bacon fat. Brown it really well until it’s got some good colour on it. Add it to the slow cooker.
Lower the heat in the pan to medium-high. Pour the onions, mushrooms, garlic and carrots into the pan with the remaining fat and soften up the veggies for 5 minutes or so. Add the tomato paste, cooking for a minute, then add the flour and cook that for another minute or so. Pour in the beef stock and worcestershire and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the good bits from the bottom. Add the mixture to the slow cooker. Add the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and give it all a good stir. Pop the lid on and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 7 or 8 hours. It’s kind of fool-proof, so don’t worry.
Serve with some delicious noodles of some sort. My favourite are egg noodles tossed in some butter and chopped parsley, but use whatever you love. The noodles are a vessel, really.
Serves 4, or 2 pigs and a baby