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Slow Cooker Spiced Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes

“Think Spring” (Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland)

My slow cookers—that’s right, I’ve got more than one—have been getting quite a workout thanks to the snow upon snow upon snow we’re getting out my way. This evening my big boy outdid himself (and yes, I am referring to my 6 quart) by whipping up a dee-lish-us take on beef stew, which in this incarnation (courtesy of Real Simple) goes by the name “Spiced Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes.” Enjoy!

SPICED BRAISED BEEF WITH SWEET POTATOES*

(serves 6)

1.5 pounds beef chuck, cut into chunks

2 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch thick half-moons

1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

1 large red onion, cut into wedges

1/2 cup dried apricots

2 tsps. ground cumin

2 tsps. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

3/4 tsp. Kosher salt**

1/2 cup water

1 10-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed

2 cups baby spinach***

1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped

1. In a four- to six-quart slow cooker, combine the beef, potatoes, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, apricots, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, and 1/2 cup water.

2. Cook covered until the meat is tender. On HIGH, for about four to five hours, or on LOW, for about seven to eight hours.

3. A few minutes before serving, add the chickpeas and baby spinach. Serve with the couscous**** and sprinkled with almonds.

Notes:

* I took pictures of the stew, but, uhm, I think the snow ate them.

** I ended up adding more salt before serving.

***In lieu of baby spinach, I used frozen spinach I had on hand. I steamed the spinach, pressed out as much water as I could, then mixed it in. You also could defrost and drain the spinach while the stew cooks. It’ll cook when you add it to the crockpot.

****Out of sheer laziness, I skipped the couscous and almonds, opting instead for a slice of ciabatta withs some butter. I imagine this dish would also work over brown rice, quinoa, or similar grains.

Recipe: Crockpot Chai Tea

Crockpot Chai Tea*

(*from Rival crockpot cookbook, I think)

2 quarts ( 8 cups) water

8 bags black tea

3/4 cup sugar (or to taste)

16 whole cloves

16 whole cardamom seeds, pods removed (This ingredient is optional; the first couple of times I used ground cardamom since I didn’t have pods)

5 cinnamon sticks

8 slices fresh ginger

1 cup milk (I use skim)

1. Combine water, tea, sugar, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger in crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

2. Strain mixture; discard solids. (I’ve been using a slotted spoon to just scoop out the solids so I can keep the tea warm). May be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

3. Stir in milk just before serving. Serve warm or chilled. (I’ve been adding the milk and letting it warm up a bit before serving.)

I bought the cardamom seeds and cinnamon sticks at the Takoma Food co-op so I could get the exact amount I needed. Here’s an article with some tips for storing the leftover ginger.

Here’s what it looks like when everything’s in the crockpot except for the water.
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