SLOW-COOKER POT ROAST WITH POTATOES, CARROTS AND FENNEL

The Instant Pot is the most recent obsession of cooks everywhere. As a lover of all gadget things, I’ve been seriously tempted to get one, but decided against it. My rationale for swimming against this current is that a regular pressure cooker does the exact same job, with the advantage of heating up faster and achieving higher final pressure (at least my model does).  I always use a skillet if I need to brown meat before cooking under pressure, so the saute feature of the Instant Pot doesn’t appeal to me. Its surface is smaller, I much rather stick with my 12 inch skillet for that. Then there is the slow-cooking capability. From what I heard, it does not compare to a regular slow-cooker and more often than not your tried and true recipe for the trusty old crock pot needs to be tweaked. I also think the size and shape of the classic slow-cooker are more appropriate for the type of stuff I cook in it. Think large pieces of pork shoulder, baby back ribs, or several little pots of custard things for crème brûlée. The only feature of the instant pot that cannot quite be matched by other gadgets is the yogurt making. But, do I ever make yogurt at home? Not really. So there you have it, the Bewitching Kitchen will go on Instant Pot-less. And today I share with you a pot roast made in our crock pot, melt-in-your-mouth tender, with the delicious addition of fennel, that absolutely makes this dish. Don’t omit it. By all means, if you own the Instant Pot, put it to use. My feelings won’t be hurt…

SLOW-COOKER POT ROAST WITH POTATOES, CARROTS AND FENNEL
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or oil of your choice)
1 bone-in chuck roast, 4 to 5 pounds
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
6 yellow potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), halved
2 fennel bulbs, cut in large pieces
6 carrots, peeled, and cut in large pieces
1 shallot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup water
fresh parsley, to serve (optional)

Mix the spices in a small bowl, crushing the fennel seeds lightly. Rub the dry rub all around the beef.  In a large skillet, heat the oil and brow the meat on all sides. As the meat browns, place the potatoes, carrots, fennel, shallots and celery inside your slow-cooker. Season them lightly with salt.

When the meat is golden brown, transfer it to the slow cooker, placing it on top of the veggies. Deglaze the skillet with a little water, and transfer the juices to the slow-cooker. Add the beef broth and water. Set it on low for 10 hours, you can also cook on high for 5 to 6 hours, but I really prefer the texture of the meat when cooked low and slow.

Shred or cut the beef in serving pieces, and enjoy with all the veggies. It is even better when prepared one day in advance.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

This was very good served over mashed cauliflower, my to-go veggie of choice for a low-carb side dish. I made the pot roast the day before our dinner, and re-warmed it gently on the stove top, adding fresh parsley right before indulging in it. The exact same recipe could be made in the pressure cooker, probably taking around 30 minutes in high pressure. Still, there’s something to be said about coming home to a house that smells like dinner is waiting for you with open arms. Even if you will place it in the fridge for a day…  Leftovers are as amazing as one would expect!

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BEEF GOULASH, SLOW-COOKER VERSION

I realize it’s not the time for goulash, at least not where we live. But, having just spent a week in Colorado. I also realize this classic Hungarian dish could come in quite handy mid-August.  Highs of low 60’s in the middle of the day, cooling down to 40-something in the evening? That’s goulash-friendly all the way. Come to think of it, using the crock pot in the summer is a pretty nice way to approach cooking. And yes, I’ve been known to enjoy a hearty beef stew in Kansas at the height of the summer and not even feel awkward about it. It is not a common meal for us during this season, but when I get that craving for comfort food, I listen to my body and go for it.

 

CROCK POT BEEF GOULASH
(inspired by America’s Test Kitchen)

2 medium shallots, minced
1/8 cup sweet paprika
¼ cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 cups chicken broth
⅓ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Minute tapioca
2 bay leaves
1 piece of boneless beef chuck (4 to 5 pounds),  cut into 1½-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
⅓ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Season the pieces of beef with salt and pepper and reserve.

In a small skillet, heat the oil, saute the shallots until translucent, add the paprika, tomato paste, garlic, and caraway seeds. Stir until fragrant, transfer the mixture to the slow-cooker. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, tapioca, and bay leaves. Place the seasoned beef  over the sauce, mix it to coat the pieces.

 Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low. Discard bay leaves. In a bowl, combine 1 cup hot stew liquid with sour cream, then stir the mixture into stew. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh parsley sprinkled on top. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you happen to own this product reviewed a while ago by Mimi, definitely put it to use in this recipe. I have used it in the past, but ran out of it and completely forgot to re-order, Not the type of ingredient easy to find where we live.  As to the recipe, do not get pre-cut stew beef. It is simply not the same as getting a beautiful, marbled piece of chuck roast and cutting it yourself. Especially using the crock pot for so many hours, it makes a difference in the texture of the meat.  The packages sold at the grocery store are usually cut too small and often go through some process to tenderize them. No bueno.

I have a confession to make. After enjoying goulash as it was meant to be enjoyed, over a hot, delicious bowl of buttered noodles, I’ve been known to push the boundaries of fusion cuisine. Leftover goulash going on a date with a corn tortilla might sound a bit odd, but… I find it truly delicious. And if you crumble feta cheese on top, you won’t be hurting my feelings… I might do the same later…

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BRISKET TACOS: ANOTHER ONE FOR THE OMG FILES

Apologies to my vegetarian friends, this one is all about the meat. Brisket, in a very simple preparation, cooked in the crock pot for hours, until the connective tissue surrenders in all its glory. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. A small can holding a simple ingredient that imparts so much flavor and just the right amount of background heat. Love it. I found this recipe online and did a quick cut and paste of the ingredients, promptly forgetting to write down the link. Proper credit is not possible at the present time, if I ever find it again I’ll edit the post to include it. However, I modified the recipe a bit, so here’s to hoping that my crime is not worthy of too heavy a punishment. The recipe makes a ton of meat, which for us means leftovers galore. You can always have a taco party and invite ten of your best friends over…They can bring their pets too.  It will be a huge batch of taco-happiness!

SLOW-COOKER BRISKET TACOS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

4 bacon slices, cut in pieces
2 shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 beef brisket, trimmed, about 4 pounds
1 cup chicken broth
2 canned chipotle peppers
2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from the can)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Place bacon and chopped shallots in a 6- to 8-qt. slow cooker. Stir together salt and pepper; sprinkle over all sides of brisket. Place brisket over the bacon/shallot mixture.

Process broth and all ingredients except apple cider vinegar in a blender  until smooth; pour mixture over brisket. Cover and cook on low for  7 hours or until brisket is fork-tender. Transfer brisket to a 9- x 13-inch baking dish; cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Pour sauce through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a medium saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, reducing it for about 10 minutes. Stir the apple cider vinegar. Coarsely shred the brisket, add the sauce and mix. Serve over tortillas, or white rice, with your favorite toppings.  I served with avocado slices and crumbled Cotija cheese. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Didn’t I tell you it made a H.U.G.E. batch?  I tell you another thing, it was better a couple of days later. The interesting thing is that the heat of the chipotle peppers seemed to dissipate a little instead of getting stronger. Maybe it just permeated the dish in a more uniform manner. That’s probably the case.

You can enjoy it over tortillas. Corn, please, the flour ones are so heavy you will have to lay down and spend a few hours thinking about the Big Bang, the Heinzenberg’s Uncertainty Principe, and how on Earth could you feel so stuffed…  You can serve them wrapped in a sturdy Romaine lettuce (messy but good), or over white rice. You can go for the kill and indulge on a nice helping over polenta. Just be ready for that Big Bang frame of mind. Yeah, brisket and polenta. It could conceivably kill me…

Next on my list? Short-rib Tacos. Go visit Karen’s site, and be ready to swoon!

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MISSISSIPPI ROAST AND THE OPEN MIND

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge fan of FoodTV’s The Kitchen. The crowd brings a mixture of different types of talent and cooking styles, they are funny, witty, it’s a great way to spend an hour on Saturday mornings. Often they will have guests, but for the most part I don’t care that much for them. Usually they are hosts from other cooking shows in need to advertise their cookbook, some are so in love with themselves that they get me into that state of non-stop eye-roll.  A particular OMG-We-ARE-So-Cool American-Italian couple comes to mind. I had to fast-forward that one, I have my limits. A few months ago they featured Robin Chapman, a nice older woman to share her recipe for a slow-cooker concoction called Mississippi Roast. I know, roast in the slow-cooker seems like a contradiction in terms, but that’s how the recipe goes. Anyway, apparently Mississippi Roast got stellar reviews all over the internet, went fully viral on Pinterest, to the point of calling the attention of Sam Sifton from The New York Times. He went searching for the original author. And that’s how she ended up at FoodTV. As I watched her preparing it, my shock and horror kept growing. I could not picture myself making it for us. A real dump and forget approach to the slow-cooker, involving a bag of powdered ranch dressing to make things more “interesting.”  The fun part was watching Geoffrey Zakarian trying to keep his cool. I would love to know his real thoughts as the cooking went on. Of course, I promptly removed the recipe from my mind. Then, one day I got notification of a new post by Mike, the blogger behind The Iron You. My chin dropped. He made it. He raved about it. He tweaked it with a few modifications (taking it on the same path Sam Sifton suggested), which definitely improved the recipe. No more powdered ranch (wink, wink). I caved. I made it. I absolutely loved it. Have already made it three more times. If you are a meat lover, grab your slow-cooker, and try this one.

MISSISSIPPI ROAST
(slightly modified from The Iron You)

3 lbs boneless chuck roast or top or bottom round roast
2 teaspoons fine grain salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons butter
8 pepperoncini peppers (I used jarred)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika

Rub salt and pepper all over the roast.

Heat oil in a large pan over high heat until it is shimmering and almost starts smoking. Place the roast in the pan and brown on all sides, about 4 to 5 minutes per side, to create a crust. Remove roast from the pan and place it in the insert of the crock pot.

Make the ranch dressing by mixing mayonnaise, vinegar, dill and paprika. Whisk well to emulsify.  To the meat in the crock pot add butter, pepperoncini, and the ranch dressing. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Using two forks, shred the meat and mix it with the gravy surrounding it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: This was scrumptious. As usual, brown food is pure ordeal to get a nice picture, so you better trust my words. I had never tried pepperoncini and was not sure what kind of flavor they would contribute. It is a very nice pepper, mild, almost lemony. One of the changes I made from Mike’s version was to omit the cornstarch coating of the meat. My sauce turned out a bit thin, but we don’t mind that. I served this “roast” with mashed cauliflower (shown in the picture). with spaghetti squash the second time around, and with rice and beans on the third. Leftovers were always consumed with corn tortillas for a Tex-Mex version. Some Cotija cheese crumbled on top, a little guacamole and we were all set. The original version from Robin Chapman uses a full stick of butter on top of the meat. To me, that is overkill, but if you’d like to try it as initially conceived, jump to the FoodTV link and check it out.

I am very fond of any type of meat that you can shred with a fork, to me it says comfort food right away, and holds the promise of many tasty meals ahead.

So there you have it. I learned a lesson with this one. Don’t twist your nose at something just because it’s not exactly your style of cooking. A few tweaks here and there, and you might end up with a recipe that will win a spot in your regular rotation.  Of course, now I’m wondering if there’s really anything to be said for ham braised in Coca-Cola. Hey, I’m not making that up. It is a real thing!

😉

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NEW MEXICO PORK CHILE, CROCKPOT VERSION

Ah, the best laid plans! After being away from home for two weeks, resuming the routine can be a bit tricky. I chose simple recipes for our dinners, as we did not have much of a chance to catch our breath. We landed around noon on a Sunday, and went back to work early next day. One simple dinner would be a pork chili made in the slow-cooker. It is so convenient to arrive back from work to a dinner waiting for you. So, I set the ingredients at lunch time, and worked the whole afternoon with that feeling of accomplishment and anticipation on the back of my mind. But fate had other plans for us. It turns out that the electricity company stopped by to install a new meter in our backyard, and shut the power off for a little while. We saw them arriving just as we drove away, but did not think much about it. When I arrived home for dinner, the crock pot was off. The meat had stayed inside for 6 long hours, at room temperature. It all went to the trash, even if part of me wanted to cook the heck out of it in a pressure cooker.  I decided safe is better than sorry. We ordered pizza instead. But, undeterred, I bought another piece of meat that same evening, and made this chili next day. It was totally worth it!  I advise you to make it, and if you don’t have a slow-cooker, just use your oven low and slow.

new-mexico-pork-chili

NEW MEXICO PORK CHILE
(inspired by America’s Test Kitchen)

3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoons New Mexico chili powder
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup strong brewed coffee
2 teaspoons instant tapioca
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 to 3 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs
Salt and pepper to taste
fresh cilantro leaves, minced
zest and juice of half a lime

Lightly spray inside of slow cooker with vegetable oil spray. In a small saucepan, heat the tomato paste, New Mexico chili, oil, and garlic powder until fragrant. Add chicken stock, coffee, brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Warm it all together for a minute or so, transfer to slow-cooker. Sprinkle the tapioca, mix to combine.

Season the meat all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in the slow cooker, the liquid does not need to cover the meat, just make sure to spoon some of it over the top. Cover and cook for 5 to 6  hours on low. Half an hour before serving, use a fork to cut the very tender meat in chunks, and mix with the sauce. Leave it for 30 minutes, then add cilantro, lime zest and juice right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

crockpot11

Comments: Most recipes for this type of chili recommend using pork shoulder or butt, cuts with a lot of fat in them. You can definitely use either, but the drawback is that cutting the meat into chunks is a bit of a pain. I never think it’s going to be a big deal once I grab the huge bag and place in my grocery cart, but then, the moment I open it and realize the task ahead, a sort of sadness invades me. Followed by the Keep Calm and Carry On stance. America’s Test Kitchen hit gold when they changed the game by using boneless, country-style pork ribs. They are equally marbled with fat, and all the work involved is ripping the plastic cover of the grocery tray. I was a bit skeptical because my experience with this type of meat was less than stellar. More often than not, I ended up with meat a bit dried up and with an odd texture. Not the case. These were melt-in-your-mouth tender, very moist and flavorful. Just the right amount of heat for our taste. The quick cooking tapioca thickens the sauce ever so slightly, but I used a lot less than called for in most recipes. You could omit it, if you don’t mind a bit of a watery sauce.

served

Phil enjoyed the chili over white rice and some Ranch style beans, I opted for cauli-rice and half an avocado, with the mandatory drizzle of lime juice.  The package I bought had three pieces of country-style ribs, a little over 3 pounds total. Leftovers were enough for another full dinner for both of us.

new-mexico-pork-chili-from-bewitching-kitchen

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SLOW COOKER PORK RAGU WITH FENNEL

Another one for the OMG files. My vegetarian friends will have to avert their eyes, because this one is the omnivore’s dream come true. Pork shoulder, another example of a cut of meat that performs very well when prepared in the slow cooker, without any compromise in texture. Fennel is the magical ingredient that takes the dish from simple to spectacular. The recipe comes from Serious Eats, a site that never disappointed me. Kenji’s recipes are trustworthy by default.

pork-shoulder-fennel
SLOW COOKER PORK RAGÚ WITH FENNEL
(slightly modified from Serious Eats)

1 (6-pound) bone-in pork shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut on the bias
2 large shallots, sliced
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 Parmesan rind

Season pork all over with salt and pepper and place in the bowl of a large slow cooker. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add fennel and carrot and cook, stirring often, until vegetables start to brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Add shallots and continue cooking until softened, about 4 minutes longer.  Add wine and bring to a boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, crushed red pepper, oregano, rosemary, sage, and Parmesan rind. Stir to combine and transfer to the slow cooker, pouring tomato mixture on top of the pork shoulder.

Cover and cook on low setting for 10 to 12 hours, basting with tomato sauce occasionally. When pork is fall-apart tender, transfer meat to a bowl and discard thyme, bay leaves and Parmesan rind. Skim fat from the top of the sauce and adjust seasonings, if needed.   When meat is cool enough to handle, shred using two forks, and discard the bone and any undesirable fat. Mound meat on top of your favorite side dish, spoon sauce on top and garnish with shredded Parmigiano.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositepoekragu
If we have to say goodbye to summer, let’s at least indulge into a bit of comfort food, shall we? Pork shoulder has that melt in your mouth quality that makes it perfect to create a ragú such as this one. Plus, using the slow cooker makes life so easy, you arrive home to the delicious smell of a dinner basically ready and waiting. If you don’t have a crock pot, use your regular oven low and slow or a pressure cooker fast and furious. How about that for flexibility?

oskypork

The classic side dish for this ragú would be pappardelle, but for the sake of our waistline I normally opt for a root veggie pure, in this case a cauliflower and  rutabaga mix. A bit of Parmigiano shaved on top just for good measure. Leftovers get better and better, and if you don’t mind stretching the boundaries of fusion cuisine, they work surprisingly well as a filling for tacos. Remember… flexibility rules, at least in the Bewitching Kitchen it does!

slow-cooker-pork-ragu-with-fennel-from-bewitching-kitchen

 

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SLOW-COOKER BRAISED LAMB SHANKS

This recipe goes to the OMG FILES.

I realize with the heat wave hitting most places in the US of A this may not be too appealing, but keep in mind that my dear friends and family in São Paulo are freezing. My friends in Australia probably shivering a little, so folks, this one is for you. By the way, did you know that no homes have central heating in São Paulo? That means when the temperature is 40 F outside, it is about 40 F inside too.  I remember – not too fondly – the ordeal it was to wake up during winter and cover the distance between bed ant bathroom for the morning shower. The reverse happens in the summer, very few homes have air-conditioning and well, you know how hot a tropical country can get.  But, back to food. This is a fantastic recipe. The crock pot works perfectly for this type of meat. Best if made a few days in advance, so that all those sauce flavors intensify in the fridge. Lamb shanks are Phil’s favorite, he always orders them in restaurants, if available. He was a super happy camper that evening… Even more so because I managed to surprise him. Prepared the braise during the weekend and awed him a couple of days later.  What’s for dinner tonight? Oh, nothing special, just some braised lamb shanks… (not sure why I never got a call from Hollywood).

lamb

 

SLOW-COOKER BRAISED LAMB SHANKS
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

1 shallot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
6 carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup water
2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes (I used canned)
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 lamb shanks, external fat trimmed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup red wine

Put the shallot, celery, carrots,, water, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaf in a slow cooker and stir to combine.

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until nearly smoking. Add the shanks and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to the slow cooker.

Remove the sauté pan from the heat, pour in the wine and return to medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the wine to the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 6 hours. Transfer the lamb shanks to a large serving dish.

Remove the bay leaf from the cooking liquid. If you’d like to de-fat the sauce, transfer the crock pot to the refrigerator, or save the shanks and the sauce in separate containers in the fridge.  Next day remove the fat congealed on the surface.  If you like a very smooth sauce, puree the liquids until smooth, add to the meat, then re-heat the whole thing together.  Alternatively, you can keep the sauce and veggies as they are in the final braising and serve with the shanks.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

meat and sauce

Every once in a while our grocery store will carry cute packages of New Zealand lamb shanks, and sometimes they even put them on sale for a lot less than the “arm and a leg” price tag they normally go for. Fully aware of Phil’s endless love for lamb shanks, I keep an eye for those sales. June started with a few days of cool weather, perfect for this type of meal.

Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks

 

The meat was literally falling off the bone…  I kept the carrots and celery in pieces instead of pureeing the sauce, do whatever you prefer. Served with mashed cauliflower and sweet peas, this was good enough to make me long for winter. Ha! Did I fool you? Probably not. By now  you should know that long for and winter are never in the same sentence for me.

pinterestlambGo ahead and pin me!
😉

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