Monday, August 5, 2013
Crock Pot Recipe: Sweet & Sour Stew
To save time and effort, my Crock Pot Sweet & Sour Stew doesn't require you to brown the meat before adding to the crock pot. If you have the time and inclination, go ahead and brown the meat on the stove first using a little bit of oil or fat, as this will add richness and depth to the flavor.
For the meat, I used beef but you could also use venison, bison or buffalo, and quite possibly even lamb. And while the original recipe calls for serving the stew over cooked rice or noodles, we chose to serve it in bowls without either so as to keep it a lower-carb recipe (you could also omit the turnips for the same reason). Finally, if you like some peppery heat to go along with the sour and sweet, use hot chili peppers instead of sweet or bell peppers -- or some of each, like I did -- or even add a dash or two of hot sauce to the crock pot or at the table.
1/2 lb small turnips or new potatoes, cut into chunks (I leave unpeeled)
1 cup (approx. 8 oz) chopped carrot
1 cup (approx. 8 oz) thinly sliced onion
1 cup chopped bell and/or hot peppers
8 oz fresh mushrooms, quartered (I used baby bellas but you can use button/white)
2 lbs stew meat
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce (I used reduced-sodium)
2 cups canned fire-roasted tomatoes (or regular crushed/diced tomatoes)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 c water
2 Tbs cornstarch
Place all ingredients, except the cornstarch, in the crock pot in the order listed. Cover & cook on High* heat until the vegetables and meat are tender, about 5-7 hrs, ideally stirring once or twice after 4 hrs of undisturbed cooking (if you're away while the stew is cooking, don't worry about stirring -- and also don't worry if it cooks longer than 7 hours on high). About 1 hour before serving, carefully remove approx. 1/2 cup of liquid from the crock pot into a small lidded jar or a glass measuring cup and allow to cool for a few minutes. Add cornstarch to the liquid: If using a jar, close the lid tightly and shake vigorously until the cornstarch is dissolved fully; if using the measuring cup, whisk the cornstarch into the liquid until dissolved fully. Stir this mixture back into the crock pot and continue to stir until incorporated fully, then re-cover the pot and continue to cook about 1 hour so as to thicken the stew. Serve over cooked rice or noodles if desired. Makes about 6-8 servings.
*If you need a longer cooking time, you could cook on Low for 10 or more hours, possibly switching to High for the final 1 or 2 hours of cooking. I haven't tried that yet, but based on my slow-cooker experience it would probably work. If you try this recipe on Low or Alternating High/Low, please leave a comment below to let me know the results & cooking time.
PS: If you're a fan of hot & spicy food, go ahead and add a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce -- Asian hot sauces like Sriracha or Thai Garlic Chili Sauce work well with the sweet and sour flavor of this hearty stew.