The verdict is in…I am an official fan of the new crockpot!
I tried a new recipe this weekend – Pinch of Yum’s Braised Beef Ragu. We’ve been relying on restaurants way too much lately. So, my plan for this week is to try several new recipes and stock our freezer with leftovers for those nights when cooking seems like way too much of a chore. (That, of course, seems like most nights.)
It’s a very simple, straightforward recipe. A three pound roast, tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs, and a little wine. Pretty easy peasy.
You can toss everything right in the slow cooker, but I made that choice with the beef stew and felt it lacked a depth of flavor that searing the meat might deliver. So, I took a little extra time up front to see if it made the difference.
It really doesn’t take long to sear a roast – much faster than many smaller pieces of meat. So, I felt it was time well-spent.
Then, all in! Don’t tell anyone, but I didn’t have dried basil. Instead, I skipped the oregano and opted for 2 teaspoons of Herbes de Provence, which are really the basil/oregano blend of France. In fact, I might rename this version Ragu Provençal.
Pinch of Yum noted that they have made this with all variations of canned tomatoes. I opted for one can with juices and one without. At first, I worried there wasn’t enough moisture, but I think it resulted in the perfect balance of sauciness.
Crockpot recipes almost always give a range of cooking times. A full hour difference seems like a lot! I split the difference between 7 and 8 hours when programming the pot, but around the 6.5 hour mark ended up adding 30 mins for the full cooking time. It was the right choice, for sure.
The meat was super moist and tender when done. I pulled it apart in the pot, but would pull out the roast to shred in the future. Once you start shredding, it’s hard to find and pull apart the smaller but still too large pieces. I’m a little obsessive about these sorts of things and would have found it easier to manage on a cutting board.
This recipe as written was meant to pair with polenta. Well, I totally thought we had some…and not so much. And, no more gluten-free pasta! But, lots of rice – both uncooked and leftovers from Indian delivery a couple of nights ago. Lazy? Yes! Perfect solution? Oh yeah. Warmed with a sprinkle of Parmesan? Perfect!!
There will be plenty of leftovers for pairing with polenta, pasta, mashed potatoes, and who knows what else! I’ll keep you posted.
This hearty, homemade (mostly) meal took barely any time at all! In fact, for the first time in a long time, I was able to sloth around the house, catch up on magazines, and binge watch new shows. Yep, I’m definitely a slow cooker convert.