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Rad's Nuclear-Grade Crock-Pot Stew - Page II

SHOPPING LIST » Before going shopping, I turn on my crock-pot (HIGH HEAT) to warm it up .. if I'm going to start cooking when I get home .. cuz it takes a while to heat the crock.

WATER » Stew uses more water than would seem necessary. I start with 8 cups. That's 2 quarts. So the (6-quart) crock pot should be ~1/3rd full. I pre-heat this water (in a tea kettle) to start things cooking faster, cuz the crock pot can taker forever to warm up with cold water.

BROWN MEAT » Into a big pan, add some olive oil & a quarter of an onion, chopped. Heat the oil & partially cook the onion. Chop the meat into cubes of different sizes and add to the flavored oil. Add a little hot pepper flakes to the oil if you have.

Brown meat in two or three batches, depending on the size of your pan, cuz it's difficult for the pan to get very hot in you dump all that meat in at once. The onion will make it difficult to overcook the meat. Some meat produces lots of liquid when cooking, as if the butcher drowned the cow before slaughter. Cook away all that liquid.

After meat well-browned, dump everything in the crock (which currently contains only water). Add a palm-full of coarse kosher salt. Don't be bashful. Difficult to over-salt a 6-quart crock of stew. You almost always need more. Let the meat cook by itself for for an hour (to 90 minutes) before adding the veggies. This will ensure it's good-n-tender. I like when it starts to fall apart. Don't wash the pan yet. We'll use that later to brown (burn) our onions & leeks.

VeggiesADD VEGGIES » While the meat is cooking solo, chop the veggies. I begin by adding the veggies that take longer to cook (such as carrots and taters). Adding the veggies will cool the water and therefore slow/stop the cooking.

I wait ~ 30 or 45 minutes to let things get back up to normal cooking temps. Then I add the rest. But save the corn for last. And save the onions & leeks.

In the big pan you used for the meat, cook the onions & leeks with some more garlic (big chunks, so they don't burn easily, about half a bulb's worth) in plenty of olive oil. Cook it well. Onions are nearly indestructable. At the end, let it start to burn a little. (By not stirring.) The burnt flavor will taste great. You can probably imagine how I learned this culinary trick.

Once the pot begins simmering (it will take an hour or more), turn heat to LOW, cut the kernels of corn off the ear and add to pot. About 2 more hours and you're ready to rock. Serve with a fresh loaf of your favorite bread (I like French) .. the warmer the better.

The stew will continue to cook after you turn off the crock, so careful to not overcook. Perfection is when the corners of the potatoes just start to disintegrate. If they badly disintegrate, you overcooked. If your veggies are crunchy, or meat rubbery, you undercooked. You can always cook more, in individual pots, at serving time. So undercooking is not as bad as overcooking.

I usually put the pot outside (on cool autumn evenings) until it cools down and then throw it into the fridge when only slightly warm. Over the next few days, I heat individual pots as desired. Salt to taste. Soy sauce works good, too, if you have some good stuff, such as Eden.

Sometimes I add a little water to the pot, if the stew is too thick. Adding a little water is okay, and sometimes necessary, but too much will kill the flavor. Most important thing is that the beef is tender. If the meat is chewy, you failed.

The second and third days taste best. Not sure why. Day 4 is still okay. If you have any left on day 5 (not likely), trash it.

Feel free to substitute your favorite veggies. Every batch should be a little different. Bon appetit. Feel the grounding.