BEATING A CROCKPOT INTO SUBMISSION: PEPPER STEAK STEW
Now, y’all know that on most accounts, I don’t deem a crockpot to be in a kitchen witch’s vocabulary. It’s not that we don’t all get tired, work our butts off, and occasionally need to lean on technology–it’s just the disjunction that occurs when we dump a can o’ this and a plop o’ that in something with a big ol’ plug and walk away. Yes, it can still be good. Yes, it’s still sustenance. But, my wooden spoon didn’t spin around that pot–and therefore, not necessarily the craft at its best.
However. Even in the making of a pb &j there can be magic. So . . . for your tired ass, and mine: the crockpot. Like it’s a Tuesday. Even Kitchen Witches need a Tuesday, yes?
Grab about two pounds, or whatever you can get your mitts on, of stew meat. (Don’t get ticky here: any basic kind will work, we’re gonna cook it’s pants off.) Dust well in all-purpose flour. Brown up in a sizzling iron skillet, just to sear the outside–not cook. Plop in crockpot that has been lightly scattered with olive oil. Now. In the yummy brown bits of what’s left in your skillet, add a bit of olive oil, one big or two small onions (pick your color here, I hanker on purple) and two sliced red peppers (see cook’s note). Saute until clear, add a few cloves of chopped garlic–cook for just a witch’s titty minute. Plop in crock. Scrape yummy bits in, too. (Deglazing with just a bit of red wine works well for this, your call.) Sokay–now we get crunchy.
Add one small (like, around four to six ounces) can tomato paste, two large (28 ounces or so) San Marzano tomatoes, a green bell pepper, several jalapenos (take out seeds if hot is not your game) and two tablespoons brown sugar. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of cumin, a tiny bit (unless you crave heat) of red pepper flakes, a tablespoon of GOOD chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. I add a handful of chopped banana peppers if they’re handy and willing. Now: give the whole thing a container to a container and a half of chicken stock and one chick bouillion cube, several bay leaves and a sip of red wine. (See Cook’s Note.)
Top down. We’re gonna go at least six to seven hours on this puppy. You have plenty of time left to work on your BOS, call your bestie, or participate in some afternoon whoopie.
Call me. I’ll bring the cornbread.
Cook’s note: In a pinch, canned “roasted” red bells work just damn skippy. If you need two pans for all those veggies, as I did, get to it.
More cook’s note, but on a witchy vibe: Add more stock if it looks a bit low, tasted a bit too strong, whatever. This will thicken and concentrate in time–we need elbow room in the pot. Be careful. Taste your broth. You can always salt it more later, but you can’t take it out once it’s been christened.