Saturday, August 10, 2013

Easy Slow Cooked Drunken Beef Stew

         Early this morning I started buying school supplies. Can you believe it's already the second Saturday of August?  Though schools here in New Jersey are not starting until at least the first week of September,  I have this sense of urgency to prepare for the busy school year.  Oh, the autumn like temperatures lately aren't helping either.  Though I try my best to deny it, the school rush is just around the corner.  
          Talking about school, my growing kids seem to have a sudden jump in their appetites.  With the rate they are eating right now, I'm pretty sure putting food on the table and making their school lunches will be extra challenging.  Can you relate? 

         Anyway, one of my best helpers in the kitchen is my slow cooker.  For us with special food requirements and must cook at home all the time, that friendly device will definitely be a staple.  If you don't have a collection of trusted slow cooker recipes yet, here's a very easy to prepare and foul proof recipe that my family loves. 

        The cognac is my secret ingredient for this dish because it gives this rather simple stew some depth and complex flavor.  Don't have it on hand?  You can definitely substitute some red wine or even beer (just check the label if you want it to be gluten free).  If you are not comfortable using alcohol in a dish that you will serve your kids, feel free to use beef broth in place of the wine.  It will turn out delicious as well. 

         Give this one a try.  I'm sure you'll love it too. 

         Enjoy a relaxing Saturday my friends!

- Roz
5 1/2 lbs. beef chuck (cut into 2 inch cubes)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup white onions, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped (about  1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup cognac
2 cups water
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
2 pcs. bay leaf
1 Tbs. salt
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 lbs. potatoes (cut into 2 inch cubes)
2 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1. In a big heavy pot with medium heat,  sauté the garlic, onions and fennel bulb for about 3 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
2. Increase the heat to high and add the beef chunks. Cook until the meat is browned. 
3. Pour the cognac and let it evaporate for about 7 minutes. Make sure to stir the meat to avoid sticking on the pan.
4. Once the alcohol has evaporated, the meat and veggie mixture can now be transferred to a slow cooker.  Add the remaining ingredients except for the parsley.  Mix well, cover and let it cook on high for 8 hours.  
5. Just before serving, add the parsley.  Mix and let it stand for about 2 minutes.
6. Serve on top of rice or noodles. 

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