Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff

IMG_1190Have a Crock Pot® and need more slow cooker recipes in your arsenal? Try this delicious beef stroganoff, and you’ll never go back to the Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and hamburger stuff again. I have to admit, that was my stand-by for years until I stumbled upon this recipe for stroganoff in one of Martha Stewart’s “Everyday Food” magazines (December 2006). She used cornstarch to thicken her version, but I prefer to make a roux (there’s that word again, Tom!) as the base for a beautiful, creamy sauce. Don’t be afraid of that French food word! Simple directions for making a roux are in the recipe below.

FullSizeRenderA dab of Dijon mustard and sprinkle of dill add subtle flavor twists that enhance the meat and mushrooms, turning this into a meal that makes even my non-beef-eating son say, “I don’t normally like beef, but this is GOOD!” Get the meat and onions simmering in your slow cooker (any shout outs for my 80’s harvest gold pot pictured here?) on low in the morning, and you’ll come home to a meal that’s 95% done. Finish the sauce on your stove top, boil some cous cous (since it only takes 5 minutes), and voilà! Dinner is served.

Serves 6-8

Rating: easy to medium

3½-4 pounds beef round bottom roast or beef stew meat, slightly frozen*
1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dill weed
8- to 10-ounce package white button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

Prepared egg noodles, cous cous, or brown rice for serving
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping, optional

Slice meat into ¼-inch thick pieces, about 2 or 3-inches long, cutting against grain. Toss in 5- or 6-quart slow cooker with onions, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 6 hours. Stir once while cooking, if possible.

Once meat is done cooking, scoop as much of the liquid from pot as you can into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. You will probably get 2 cups-worth of beef juice from that amount of meat, but add water if you need to, in order to get 2 cups worth of beef broth. Set aside. (Leave slow cooker set on low while you prep the sauce and mushrooms.)

To make a roux: In frying pan set on medium heat, melt butter. Sprinkle flour on top of the melted butter, and stir to combine. Turn heat to low. All flour should be incorporated, and mixture will become paste-like in consistency. Gradually whisk the reserved beef broth into the roux (butter/flour mixture), until it is all combined and no lumps remain. Turn heat up to medium-high. Stir in sour cream, Dijon mustard, and dill until thoroughly combined. Pour sauce back into slow cooker, and stir to coat meat.

Sauté mushrooms in fry pan on high, stirring often, until mushrooms begin to brown slightly. Once cooked, stir mushrooms in with beef and sauce. Serve over cooked pasta, cous cous, or rice. (Serve with rice if you need this meal to be gluten-free.)

*PREP TIP: The meat is easiest to slice thin if it’s slightly frozen. You will want to trim off visible fat as well, and that’s also easier to do when the meat is chilled. I usually pull my meat out of the freezer and let sit about an hour so it’s not rock-solid, but still cold enough to slice.

Smokey Fifteen-bean Soup

FullSizeRender-1Who loved Campbell’s bean with bacon soup as a kid? One whiff of this 15-bean recipe simmering on the stove top will transport you back to your childhood home, when Mom occasionally served this for lunch with a side of grilled Wonderbread and Velveeta sandwiches. But this hearty gluten-free soup has soooooo much more flavor than the canned variety. It’s also easy and cheap (great qualities in a soup, not great qualities in a woman…)with the shredding of the ham shank being the most time-consuming step—and it’s a budget-buster at about $11-12 a pot. This recipe is off the Hurst’s Hambeens 15 Bean Soup package, and I’ve always made it in a big Dutch oven on the stove top. But on their website,, they say you can make this 15-bean soup in the slow cooker (aka: Crock Pot) as well. Maybe I’ll try that next time, so I don’t have to stick around the house on a Saturday, keeping an eye on the pot. Oh, and when you’re shopping for a bag of dried beans, you may run across bags boasting a whopping 16-bean soup mix. But I think that’s taking it just one bean too far, don’t you? Let’s not go crazy, people.

Serves 12-16 (freezes well, if a gallon of soup is too much for you!)

Rating: easy

1 (20 ounce) bag Hurst’s HamBeens 15-bean Soup mix or other brand 15-bean soup mix
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (optional—my addition to Hurst’s original recipe)
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large ham shank* or smoked sausage (leftover ham bone from the holidays works great too!)

Quick cook method: Rinse and drain dry beans, reserving enclosed flavor packet for later use. Place rinsed beans in a large pot with 10 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours. Stir occasionally. After boiling, add onion, diced tomatoes, chili powder, lemon juice, garlic, and ham shank (or sausage). Stir. Bring back to a rapid boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove ham shank (or sausage) and let cool on plate. Stir in reserved flavor packet. Once ham shank is cool enough to handle, pull meat off bone, cutting away cartilage and membranes, and dice meat. Add meat back into soup. If using sausage, dice and stir into soup.

*NOTE: Sometimes I have trouble finding ham shanks, so ask your butcher for help if you can’t find them. If you can’t find the ham shank, try it with the sausage. I’ve never tried this recipe with smoked sausage, but I’m sure it would be delicious as well.

Carolina Barbecued Pork

FullSizeRenderSlow cooker recipes are such time-savers, and this shredded pork number from the Crock Pot website is especially tender and tasty. Serve the shredded meat on crusty ciabatta rolls, not on hamburger buns or other soft breads. Stiffer, crustier bread holds up better with this juicy meat recipe. This is perfect for a graduation open house spread (if you live in the Midwest and do parties for high school graduates), but also works at potlucks in spring, summer, fall or winter. I’ve doubled it to serve a crowd, and every time I’ve had this simmering in the slow cooker, the recipe has been requested by a few folks. Let everyone serve themselves, and then gluten-free people can dish up a heaping pile of meat and avoid the bread. Vegetarians in your midst? They might change their persuasion when they get a whiff of what’s cooking. The original recipe gave instructions for making a sauce with the vinegar and seasonings, and then pouring it over the cooked meat when serving. But it’s easier and works perfectly fine to throw it all in the slow cooker, and let the ingredients make magic together.

(My apologies for not posting this last week in honor of Father’s Day! That was my intention, but you know what they say…the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Not sure what that has to do with a blog post.)

NOTE: The Curry Cabbage Vegetable Salad (posted recently) is a nice side with this sandwich.

Serves 6-8

2 medium onions, chopped
4 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika (I use smoked Spanish paprika)
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 to 6 pound boneless pork butt, shoulder, or loin
1/3 cup cider vinegar
4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
BBQ sauce of choice

Place onions in bottom of Crock Pot. In large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, paprika, salt, and pepper. Roll pork in rub until it coats meat. Place meat in pot on top of onions. In a measuring cup, combine cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, sugar, mustard, garlic salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine. Pour over meat in pot. Cover and cook on Low for 10-12 hours, or on High for 5-6 hours. Once cooked, remove meat from pot and shred for sandwiches. Return meat to juices in pot. Use slotted spoon to serve meat.