Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Beef Cubes - From Freezer to Tender in 6 Hours

Whenever I need to go from frozen to dinner in under 6 hours, I usually call upon my crockpot. I can take meat right from the freezer, without needing to defrost it first, and drop it in my slow cooker with a few root vegetables, wine and seasonings. I didn't have the brain power this morning to put together a full meal in the crockpot, but I thought if I could get the beef cubes cooked and tender by dinner time, I could easily throw together a side or two a few minutes before dinner.

Here's what I did this morning:
Rough chop one onion and 3 carrots (unpeeled) - these are just for flavor while the beef cubes slow cook. Toss these vegetables in the bottom of the crockpot. Pour 1/2 cup of wine - anything you have on hand. Strangely enough, I only had a white zin in the fridge, so I went with it. Add 2 bay leaves to liquid. Take beef cubes from freezer. I had about 1.5 pounds frozen in a flat layer in a plastic storage bag, and when I eyed the crockpot, I knew I wasn't going to fit the lid over the frozen maze of cubes - I quickly held the beef under warm water until I was able to snap the mass in half (about 1 minute). Add to crockpot and season beef with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place lid on and set to High or 6 hours.

Here's what I plan to do tonight:
Remove beef cubes from crockpot and cut into smaller chunks (easier for the kids to eat). They will be really soft and tender at this point. In a medium skillet, heat 1 pat of butter and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Add 2 cups of mushrooms - any variety - sliced or rough chopped. Once they are tender - about 5 minutes - sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of flour on them and allow flour to cook and brown slightly. Strain the liquid from the crockpot and add to skillet while whisking to combine with flour. Add enough liquid so the consistency is slightly thinner than gravy. I f you need more liquid, use stock, water or wine. Once bubbling, add the beef cubes to the skillet and toss to combine.

What can you do with this beef/mushroom mixture?
  • Serve over egg noodles, pasta, rice or baked potatoes
  • Serve on it's own with a side of vegetables and/or garden salad
  • Make It Low-Carb: Use cream cheese or sour cream instead of flour as a thickener.
  • Make It With Chicken: I recommend chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts because they will stay moister in the slow cooker.

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