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blacbird
09-29-2008, 10:02 AM
Tonight, at my daugher's (she's 23, and therefore credible) request, we had a crockpotted (electric) New England-style boiled dinner. With the weather here now into frost fall, it is ideal fare, and the leftovers make for good lunches for two or three days as well. Start in the morning, and let cook during the day. How it works:

Stew meat, roughly 3 lbs. (this is a great way to use inexpensive beef).
Potatoes (I used two different kinds from my own garden, as much as seemed appropriate; if you purchase them, use what you like, but don't use the big russet baking potatoes, which get flaky and fall apart in this kind of cooking).
2 medium-sized rutabagas (I consider these essential)
2 parsley roots (hard to find, but well worth using in any root-vegetable dish)
3 large carrots (all I had; I would have used one or two more if I had them)
1 large parsnip
3 small white beets (grown in my garden; I would have used a few more of these, but it's all I had; see note below)
most of a medium-sized daikon radish
1 large leek
1/2 white onion
1 granny smith apple
1 package McCormick Montreal Steak marinade
1 package standard beef stew mix (any will do)
2 cups beef broth (available in the soup aisle at your grocery store)

Marinate the meat in the Montreal Steak marinade (which requires mixing with some vegetable oil and vinegar). I do this first, then go about preparing the vegetables: Peel the vegetables, except for the potatoes (which I leave the peel on), and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place the entirety, along with the marinated meat, into a large crockpot. Then mix the stew mix, using the beef broth in place of water, and pour gently into the pot over the other ingredients. Add excess beef broth as desired. Sprinkle with a little salt. Cover, and cook on low for the day.

Viola! Dinner is served.

Some hints: I put the crockpot in a large aluminum turkey-cooking pan, as it may bubble over a bit. If your crockpot has a clear glass lid, cover that with aluminum foil, which will reflect heat back into the cookery.

I really like the Montreal Steak marinade, which is a kind of pepper-steak seasoning. If you want a little more spice, you might try the McCormick Mesquite seasoning, also very good.

I've used many other veggies in this mix with excellent results, including bok choi, celery, celeriac or celery root, swiss chard, kale, turnips, kohlrabis. White or golden beets are excellent, but I'd avoid the purple varieties, as they will turn the whole mixture purple. The white and golden varieties I grow in the garden, because they are abominably difficult to find in my grocery stores here. But they are way excellent in a dish like this.

The daikon radish may also surprise some people, but it is a truly wonderful vegetable to cook with, having a mildly turnipy flavor. I actually prefer them to turnips. And the granny smith apple also may seem a little odd, but it adds just a touch of sweetness to the mix that is ideal; don't use a strongly sweet apple for this purpose.

The final step is:

Eat.

caw

Gravity
09-29-2008, 10:56 PM
Sounds delish, Blac. Perfect fall fare. Thanks.

awatkins
09-30-2008, 12:06 AM
Ooh, an apple. I never thought of that--thanks for the idea. I'll give that a try. :)

blacbird
09-30-2008, 09:28 AM
The story behind the apple:

Dates back 40 years, to my U. S. Army basic training days. I had KP duty one day, at Ft. Polk, Louisiana. My company mess sergeant was a Greek immigrant, who just loved to cook, and found this career in the Army doing just that. He had just won the First Army Region best mess award (the First Army area at that time covered about the southeastern quadrant of the United States). So our mess hall was actually a pretty good place to eat.

Anyhow, given that he had just won this big award, and had some level of street cred, he had a little clout in regard to what he wanted to serve the men for food. The day I had the KP duty, he decided he didn't like what the base command had dictated should be served for dinner, and got inventive. He wanted to make Mulligatawney Stew, a version of Irish Stew, for 200 men. This involved a scavenger hunt among other mess halls at the base for the right ingredients. He dispatched me off to beg for some apples. Which I successfully accomplished, and we made Mulligatawney Stew, with beef and veggies and these apples, and I remember it being about the finest meal I ate in the entire eight weeks of basic training. I've used that trick ever since in fixing veggie and meat stews. Just be sure you use tart and solid apples, like Granny Smiths.

Oh, an addendum: I cut the schidt out of a finger that same day peeling potatoes, and it got infected, and wound up getting me relieved from physical training for three days. That wasn't a bad deal, either. I have a nice neat offset fingerprint scar to prove it.

caw

Gravity
09-30-2008, 07:18 PM
Hey, Blac, any day a boot could get out of PT was a good day. *G*

MattW
10-03-2008, 04:14 AM
Instead of broth, I use apple cider for a very similar recipe.

I also tried a beef bouguignon this week in the crock pot - fantastic! Rendered bacon, seared beef and sweated whole onion the night before, deglazed with wine, and let the whole thing marinate overnight. Pop in the crock pot before work, come home to fantatastic wine soaked dinner.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
11-13-2008, 08:46 PM
I just got a link to this site (http://www.50plusfriends.com/cookbook/crockpot/index-5b.html) in my email... looks like a treasure trove of crock pot recipes.