For a good year now I’ve been quietly peeking at crock pot recipes. I’ve browsed the appliance aisle at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I’ve inquired to friends on Twitter and Facebook what, exactly, do you do with this thing? I’ve resisted it for a few reasons:
1. Most of the recipes I’ve seen are so heavily “casserole”-ish or cream-based or pasta-laden and rarely organic-based,
2. The appliance itself is so damn big and I am in the process of decluttering.
3. It wasn’t until recently I could find a way for at least three of four of us to eat the same meal.
But, I’ve also discovered another, deeper reason I’ve resisted this way of cooking: In my mind, this method of cooking lacked sophistication.
Culinary snob? Quite possibly. But I’m working on it.
For YEARS I studied the best cooks on FoodNetwork. I worshiped at the altar of Ina and Emeril and Chiarello. I noted the science from Alton Brown. I remembered how much I loved Julia growing up. I learned the basic sauces, the importance of knife skills, how to pick the perfect tomato. I bought the best cookware I could afford, absorbed regional cuisine quirks and worked on my palate. I have wines I cook with now. Hell, I even learned how to bone and filet a fish and a chicken.
I am a pretty decent cook.
And so, the thought of just throwing some things in a pot (that weren’t for a soup of some sort) just … I don’t know … seemed to fall in the “pedestrian” camp more than the “simplicity” one. Simplicity at least has a bit of elegance.
YES, I KNOW HOW THIS SOUNDS.
But, it became something of a quest. The cooler months are coming (sort of) and I began to rationalize. I make soups and chili – this would be easy and help me at the end of the day / afterschool… We like to do gumbo on New Year’s Day… I could serve a crowd easily… SURELY I could find some recipes that didn’t have the issues of number one above and could satisfy the snobbery as well? COME ON, PINTEREST, DON’T FAIL ME NOW.
It’s been a little hit or miss, but I am still committed to finding ten recipes. I feel like if I could find ten recipes the investment in the behemoth appliance is worth it.
This one may be a keeper.
Found on Pinterest over at Notes from the Heartland, this recipe was easy, pretty tasty and could be translated to organic ingredients very easily. I made a few changes and may still continue to adjust, but here is what I started with for now.
CROCK POT MONGOLIAN BEEF (Serves 4)
1 1/2 lb. ball tip steak or flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon dried onion
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon ginger (fresh grated if possible)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 sliced green onions, one reserved
1) Slice meat thin (on the bias if using flank steak), put in a ziploc bag with cornstarch. Shake around until meat is covered with cornstarch.
2) Whisk together soy sauce, wine, sherry, vinegar, sesame, molasses, ginger, pepper, chili flakes and brown sugar in the crock pot.
3) Add peanut butter, mix well.
3) Add garlic and 3 of the sliced green onions. Place the meat on top of the mixture, then toss gingerly to coat.
4) Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours. (Note: Mine took roughly 4. I cannot imagine this going six hours.)
Enjoy! I served this with roasted green beans.