It’s the milestone tenth installment of “What’s In The Crockpot?” and I’m elated, because this is a good one. I’ll waste no more time… let’s play!
WHAT’S IN THE CROCKPOT?
BEEF AND BUTTERNUT STEW is in the Crockpot!
I was inspired to make a big crock o’ stew after getting my hands on this two-pound LA Salad Company package of peeled and cubed butternut squash, which was given to me by my friend Andie:
I love butternut squash, and quite frankly, I had a craving for red meat, which I hadn’t cooked in a long time. Beef and squash are both good stew ingredients, so why not make a stew with both?
My first thought was to marry the squash with lamb, but I’ve never cooked lamb before, and don’t know the first thing about what cut of lamb to buy. Plus, it all looked pretty fatty at the store. Is there such a thing as a lean cut of lamb? What cut would you buy for a lamb stew? Leave your lamb-related insights in the Comments section!
So I ended up buying a package of lean beef stew meat, which I cut into smaller cubes, and threw in a big bag with 1/4 cup of flour, a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a tablespoon of steak seasoning.
I tossed the flour and meat together, so the cubes were all coated, and then seared them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, just to brown them on all sides.
While that was cooking, I started chopping lots of veggies:
- 3 carrots
- 3 stalks of celery
- 1 small yam
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1/2 red onion (because I had it laying around)
Then I prepped the crockpot. Squash went in first, followed by the rest of the veggies. Then, the browned beef went on top. I figured it would cook and the juices would drip down and flavor everything else. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but who knows if it worked?
On top of the beef, I liberally sprinkled a bunch of spices. I didn’t measure any of them, but it was at least a tablespoon of each:
- Garlic powder
- Black pepper
- Cinnamon (seems odd, but works well with butternut squash)
- Cayenne (only about a teaspoon, because this stuff is strong)
It may seem like a lot of spice, but I’ve found that slow cooking seems to dull flavors, so I counteract that by adding more from the get-go.
Lastly, I added 4 cups of low-sodium beef broth, which washed all the spices to the bottom of the crock and started the co-mingling process. Here’s what the stew looked like as the cooking process began:
I cooked it on high for somewhere between 4 and 5 hours (or you can do low for 8-10 hours), until the beef was fully cooked and starting to fall apart. You saw the end result at the beginning of this post, and here’s what it looked like when I served it up for myself:
The liquid was thin, so it was more soup-like than stew-like, and that’s probably because I didn’t add any thickening agents. Apart from that minor detail, it was delicious. Aromatic, spicy, rich in flavors and textures. The squash and yam pieces practically melted when I ate them – as did the beef!
I ate about three bowls that evening, but since the only added fat in the whole crock was the one tablespoon of oil I used to brown the beef, I didn’t feel a single pang of guilt after my lack of moderation.
And, there were plenty of leftovers! I considered freezing it, because soups freeze well, but it was so good, I knew I’d want to eat it again soon. Sure enough, within about 36 hours, the rest was all gone.
Keep it up, David!
PS: Vegetable Week continues tomorrow with a post about the most exciting thing I’ve ever pulled out of my oven.