Crockpots can be tricky. The thing is, food is trapped inside and cooked slowly for a long, long time. Flavors meld, textures soften and disappear
altogether. Sometimes, with certain foods, this is bad news, and sometimes it’s delicious. When utilized well, your crockpot can produce much more than a jumbo recipe of that dip with processed cheese and canned, spicy tomatoes. It can give you something better than chicken thighs with condensed soup. How do I know this? Several years ago a co-worker gave me a recipe for one of her favorite “easy meals”.
I tried it. We ate it. We ate some more. I filed the recipe in the family cookbook. The End.
Well, not quite, actually. I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years, changing a detail or two whenever I feel sassy in the kitchen. Here’s the current version, just in time for the cooler weather that I am expecting any day/week/month!
Beef in Red Wine Marinara
1 lb. stew meat
1 T. vegetable or canola oil
1/4 tsp of salt
3 grinds of fresh black pepper (a couple of shakes if you’re using the stuff in the can)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 8-oz package sliced baby bella (or your favorite) mushrooms
1 cup dry red wine, divided (optional)
1 jar of your favorite tomato-basil marinara sauce
Hot cooked rice or egg noodles
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until oil is hot. Toss stew meat with the salt and pepper and add to skillet. (Meat should sizzle and start to cook right away, but not smoke a great deal.) Turn meat as necessary so that each side is browned and most of the meat is seared at least a little. Remove meat with a slotted spoon and place in the crockpot. Add the onions to the skillet and saute for about a minute. Add half of the wine to the skillet, stirring to release any particles at the bottom of the pan. Add contents of pan to the crockpot. Place remaining ingredients, except the rice or noodles, into the crockpot. Cover the crockpot and cook meat on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 2-4 hours. Serve over rice or egg noodles.
This keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer and is delicious the next day.