It seems that lately I’ve been obsessed with my slow cooker. You have to admit it is a major convenience, especially when you have a busy day planned. Which was the case with me last week. But even when my calendar is full I still want to have something good and home made for dinner (unless I’m so exhausted I suggest we just go out to eat). The beauty of the slow cooker is that you get it ready early in the day when you have energy so that later in the day you go home to amazing smells and a dinner that is ready to serve without a lot of time and effort on your part. I just love my slow cooker!
I’m always experimenting with basic ingredients and I’ve really never used ground beef as the main protein in one of my slow cooker meals before. So I thought, what the heck, why not give it a try. And I have to say I really, really liked this meal. It’s hearty, flavorful and all you need do is serve it with some crusty bread, or corn bread or a salad and you’re done.
So let’s talk slow cooker ground beef stew…
Lesson Learned 1 – Use a lower fat ground beef in this recipe: I used 93% lean ground sirloin for this recipe. There are some recipes that I prefer a larger fat content but for this one you don’t. You don’t want the crock to be swimming in grease when it’s done. Believe me, it’s worth it to go higher end on the ground beef for something that is cooking for 7 hours.
Lesson Learned 2 – Partially cook the ground beef before putting it in the slow cooker: Many times I’ve talked about the importance of browning meat before you put it in the slow cooker. Slow cookers do not brown meats and so your meat can wind up looking grayish if you don’t brown it first. If that doesn’t bother you then just dump the meat in. But I say you eat with your eyes first and so you want the dish to look pleasing as well. Just cook the meat so there’s only a little pink left. The slow cooker can then handle the rest.
Lesson Learned 3 – Cut your veggies and potatoes into large chunks: I know I’ve said this over and over but it’s worth repeating. If you don’t you cut your veggies into large chunks they will turn into mush. Think about it. The veggies are cooking for 7 hours. Unless they are of substantial size they will break down. Below is the picture of my potatoes and veggies before I added the meat. You can see they are nice and chunky and that’s what you need in order for them to stand up to the cooking process.
Lesson Learned 4 – You can use any kind of potato you like: When I made this I used yukon gold potatoes. Yukon golds have a very thin skin so you don’t have to peel them. I always peel them because my husband has a hard time with the skins. Whether you do or not is totally your preference. You can use red potatoes or russets. I would suggest peeling either one of those if you decide to use them.
Lesson Learned 5 – Seasoning is very important when using a slow cooker: If you don’t season the ingredients well your food can turn out bland. You’ll want to salt and pepper the ground beef when you’re browning it. You’ll want to salt and pepper the onions, carrots and potatoes after you put them in the slow cooker. After you mince the garlic sprinkle it over the veggies and potato. Add the oregano to the tomato sauce. Making sure you season this way will give you a flavorful result.
I will admit I wasn’t too sure about this recipe and I was very pleasantly surprised at how it turned out. Plus it provided some delightful smells in the kitchen will it was cooking. For a simple, no fuss, easy meal the recipe more than fits the bill. Try it and let me know what you think.
Slow Cooker Ground Beef Stew...
1 1/2 pounds 93% lean ground sirloin
2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced in large chunks
3 large carrots, cut in chunks
I medium yellow onion, sliced in chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1- 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray
In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef until there is only a slight bit of pink left in the meat. Set aside. In a large bowl combine the tomato paste and sauce. Stir until completely combined and smooth. (This should give you a nice thick sauce). Add the Worcestershire sauce and oregano and stir to combine.
Spray the inside of the crock with cooking spray. Add the potatoes, carrots and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the minced garlic over the vegetables and potatoes. Add the meat on top. Pour the tomato sauce over the meat. Stir to combine.
Cover and cook on high for 7 hours. Do not lift the lid during the cooking process. Serve with a salad and some crusty bread.