You’ll never guess what I finally got!!!
Well, okay. I figure you probably guessed already, given the title of this post and all. But hey, I’m excited, alright? After all this time thinking about getting a slow cooker, I finally took the plunge and bought one.
Funny how it happened, too. I’d just seen this very tempting recipe for Crock-Pot Chicken Mole and told myself that it was about time I really started seriously shopping for a slow cooker. The thing is, whenever I buy a new appliance, I usually have to research it for weeks on end, reading countless reviews, trying to decide which one would be the best bang for my buck.
But this time, it was different. The very next day I’d made the decision to seriously start shopping for a slow cooker, I walked into my local Costco, just to buy a few things, and right there, right next to the entrance, was this HUGE display (ain’t never no small thing at Costco, is there?) of 7 quart Crock-Pots with a free bonus mini dip bowl thingy going for like not even fifty bucks.
I didn’t even think twice. In the cart it went!
For my first recipe, I decided that I just had to make what to me is the greatest slow cooker recipe of all times: Boeuf Bourgignon. I’m afraid the Chicken Mole that initiated this impulsive purchase is gonna have to wait a bit longer.
Also, for my first try, I thought I would test the “really-busy-with-work-and-all-got-no-time-to-prep-just-dump-everything-in-the-bowl-then-press-the-on-button-and-be-on-your-way” version of this dish.
No browning the meat, no sweating the onions, no nothing. Just dump everything in the bowl the night before, place that in the fridge to marinate while you sleep and in the morning, right before you leave for work, plug the Crock-Pot in, push the on button and be on your way.
Dinner would have to be ready for me by the time I got back. Not only would it have to be ready but it would also have to be yummy. I did make a small exception to my “dump it all in” rule and that is I added the mushrooms and pearl onions only towards the end because I thought for sure that they would be way overcooked if I added them right from the start but in retrospect, I am now certain that they would’ve come out perfect, too!
The thickening of the sauce, however, had to be done at the very end since I used tapioca starch. To release its full thickening powder, tapioca starch needs to come to a complete boil and that simply cannot happen in a slow cooker. Seeing as how that only takes a few minutes, I don’t think it’s an issue. You can still have dinner on the table in under 5 minutes! I think I can live with that.
Alright, so let’s get started with this slow cooker experiment, shall we?
I started with some beautiful grass-fed beef stew meat. Now I like to rinse my meat and drain it real good before I use it. Normally, I would also pat it dry in preparation for browning and all, but this step wasn’t necessary this time.
Ooooh! Time saver. I like!
So just basically throw everything right into the bowl of your slow cooker. Just like that. Cold, raw, unaltered. Well, you do want to chop your veggies, but that’s all there is to it.
Meat, carrot, onion and garlic go in first.
Followed with salt, pepper, rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and cold bone broth.
A little bit of red wine vinegar
And, by popular demand, a splash of red wine. Not so much. Just a cup. That’s about, oh, a third of the bottle. Divided by 6 servings equals uhm… about a sip I guess. Not gonna kill me and will add SO much flavor to the dish. 🙂
Mix everything well and throw that in the fridge.
Whooo. That must have taken the better part of… 10 minutes? I think that what took the longest was making room in the fridge to fit that giant tub!
Just leave that in the icebox overnight and in the morning, flick that Crock-Pot switch to “ON”. 8 hours on low, or 6 hours on high, depending on how long your shift is, I guess!
When you get back from work, or 1 or 2 hours before the stew is done cooking, throw in the mushrooms and pearl onions.
Or, if time won’t allow, and you want that stew to be good and ready the minute you set foot in the house, just throw them in before you leave in the morning.
Now this part, like I said, there is no getting away from.
When the stew is ready, you need to remove some of that highly aromatic cooking liquid and transfer it to a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil and throw in your slurry (that’s the tapioca starch mixed with water) and whisk for about a minute until your sauce is all nice and thickened.
Return that to the slow cooker, mix it in real good and now you’re all set and ready to eat.
Thank goodness ‘cuz it smells soooooo good! Just transfer your stew to nice little bowls and sit yourself down to eat.
How was that stew, you ask?
Honestly, I am VERY, VERY pleasantly surprised. I never thought that so much flavor would come out of meat that hadn’t been seared, or onions that hadn’t been browned. I never thought that carrots would remain so firm after cooking for 8 hours while the meat would be perfectly melt-in-your-mouth tender. How that miracle happens, I have no idea! But I am loving it.
This was a more than decent Boeuf Bourgignon, one that I would make time and time again without hesitation.
I will, however, take the time to test the “It’s-the-weekend-and-I-have-plenty-on-time-on-my-hand-in-the-morning-to-get-this-thing-started-so-I-can-sear-my-meat-and-all-before-to-press-that-power-button-and-let-the-slow-cooker-do-the-rest-of-the-job-for-me-afterwards” method.
I get the feeling that it WILL be that much better, but still. The dump-everything-and-forget-about-it method produced a more than acceptable fare and I must say that I am EXTREMELY happy with my new purchase, as well as with this recipe.
I get the feeling that my slow cooker will become my new favorite toy, which means more slow cooker recipe will get posted on THF!
Seriously? Why did I wait so long to buy this thing?