This week I had to pick up my granddaughter from daycare as both her parents were working extended hours. As my husband is also working extended hours during the holidays, I also needed to have meals on hand for him to reheat in my absence.
My son loves Kane Brewing in Ocean Township, NJ. And over the Thanksgiving holiday he brought some stout beer to the house. There was one can that he left in my refrigerator. I’m not a beer drinker, so I needed to find a recipe in which to use this product. I found a slow cooker recipe on the New York Times cooking app called slow cooker beef stew with maple syrup and stout. After reading the comments left by other cooks, this appeared to be a good recipe. The recipe recommended using a 3 to 3-1/2-pound chuck roast and cutting it into 2-inch chunks. However, I was only able to locate one roast that wasn’t part of a two-pack family pack. You’ll also need carrots, parsnips, russet potatoes, fresh thyme and rosemary, stout beer, real maple syrup and balsamic vinegar.
It took approximately 30 minutes to prep this recipe for cooking. I also took the advice of some readers and browned the meat before placing it in the slow cooker. Did I mention that this recipe is cooked on low for 10 to 12 hours? Since some of the comments made reference to the lack of sufficient liquid in the stew, I decided to use a whole can of beer instead of the 1/3 cup the recipe called for. I think the next time I make this, I would also up the number of carrots and parsnips (original recipe called for 3) to perhaps 6. My granddaughter loves cooked carrots. My husband would thinks mushrooms would be a good addition to the filling and to add some chopped jalapeno for some of the green pepper. The lid of my crock pot doesn’t sit flat on the rim, so I cut a piece of parchment to fit over the stew as it cooked. This helped to keep the moisture in the pot. I put the stew on at 7 AM and turned it off after 10 hours. The meat was nice and tender and there was enough liquid in the pot after cooking for so long.
My husband, daughter and son-in-law enjoyed this meal as did I. My granddaughter couldn’t get enough of the carrots that were in the stew. I had to dig out all I could find for her. This I was a great do a head meal and reheats very well.
For the second night that I was at my daughters, I prepared a Pierre Franey recipe. Mr. Franey used to have a column in the New Times called “60-Minute Gourmet.” The recipe was macaroni and beef casserole. It reminded me of a recipe that my late mother-in-law used to prepare called elbow macaroni with ground beef, peas and tomato sauce. Besides the elbow macaroni you’ll need onions, celery, green pepper, garlic, ground chuck, fresh or dried oregano, fresh basil or Italian flat leaf parsley, crushed tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cayenne pepper and Parmesan cheese.
The only adjustment that I made to this recipe was to use Parm cheddar that I previously purchased at Wegmans. The onions, celery, green pepper and garlic are sautéed to start the base for this dish. Next, the ground beef is added to the vegetable mixture. Once that is done, the cooked macaroni is added and mixed in. If you’ll be serving right after preparing, keep the dish warm, mine was going to be eaten later. The recipe suggested a 7x10x2-1/2-inch baking dish. I found a 9x13x2-1/2-inch dish allowed for enough room for all the ingredients. Next, you’ll be making a white sauce with butter, flour and milk. Once the white sauce is cooked for five minutes it’s removed from the heat and the cheese and final seasonings are added. The sauce is poured over the pasta that’s been keeping warm in a casserole dish. I think a better method would be to keep the pasta in the pot it was cooked in and pour the cheese sauce in the pasta and mix all the ingredients together so that everything is well coated. The casserole is topped with grated Parmesan cheese and popped under the broiler until the top is lightly golden and crunchy.
While my husband enjoyed the dish as prepared, I think a sharp cheddar would be better. One of the comments left on the recipe page said that in the original printing of this recipe, Mr. Franey recommended a sharp cheddar. Also, taste the beef/vegetable mixture. I think it could have used a bit more seasoning; this was another suggestion I found in the comments. My daughter’s comment was that I should have drained the beef after cooking. Perhaps the next time, I’ll brown the meat separately before adding to the vegetables. I enjoyed the dish and would recommend this recipe. It’s a great do a head recipe and reheats well. Unfortunately, as didn't remember to take a photo of this wonderful dish.
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.