“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*
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.
* 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.
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.)