I’ve never owned a slow cooker in my 33 years until approximately one week ago. I usually find meals that come from ‘slow cooking’ to have a monotonous flavor, be overly herbed, and lack any real texture (unless you calll “mushy” a texture). On a recent trip to my parent’s house they served an Irish stew from a cookbook called ‘The Gourmet Slow Cooker‘. It was surprisingly delicious (surprising due to the fact it was slow cooked, not the fact that my parents made something delicious). A few days later I ordered a 6 quart slow cooker with my Visa Rewards points in hopes of making some similar stews and soups when there wasn’t enough time for active cooking.
I had to tinker with the recipe, of course, but am very satisfied with the results. Granted, whenever you stew anything in wine it will almost certainly be delicious. In this instance I used a bottle of 2008 Colli Vicentini Cabernet, a table wine from Italia.
1.5 lbs bottom round roast, trimmed. Cut into 1-2 inch pieces.
1 bottle dry red wine
4 carrots – chopped into large pieces
1 lb crimini mushrooms – cut in quarters
1 lb boiler onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
Dredge the meat with a mix of flour, salt and pepper. Shake off excess flour. Cook the meat over medium-high heat until browned on all sides in a large pan with a touch of olive oil. At the same time, sauté the minced garlic with a bit of olive oil in a small pan until fragrant, about 60 seconds, and remove from heat. Remove the browned meat from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Deglaze the pan with 3/4 bottle of red wine, scraping up the delicious browned bits. Feel free to drink the remaining quarter bottle at this time. Add the garlic from the other pan to the wine mixture. Cook for a few minutes over medium-high heat to thicken and reduce. Place the meat along the bottom of the slow cooker and then pour the wine mixture over the top. Salt and Pepper to taste. Set to low and begin cooking for 6-8 hours (until the meat is tender). About an hour before it is done peel the boiler onions and quickly sauté in a pan until browned. Add these to the pot along with the carrots (if you like your carrots more on the mushy side, add them an hour earlier). About 15 minutes before the meal is complete, add the quartered mushrooms. Finally, remove the thyme and bay leaf and serve.
DISCLAIMER: By no means does this post imply that I am now a slow-cooker fanatic. I added the slow cooker to the arsenal so it can be used when there is not enough time for active cooking or I am feeling lazy.