I love taking an inexpensive cut of meat and stewing the hell out of it. Especially in my crock pot. Maybe it should be called crack pot, since it's so addictive to use. Set it and forget it! You can now even find products that make crock pot cooking more convenient, like slow cooking liners, plastic bags you insert into the pot in which the food cooks. Clean-up becomes a cinch.
There's been a bottle of German doppelbock beer that's been sitting in my fridge, from a friend who had brought it along with strings of sausages awhile ago for a house party. Doppelbocks, aka double bock beers, are malty German lagers with a whole lot of body.They are especially dark, with incredible smoky and dynamic flavors. Korbinian, fromWeihenstephaner Brewery, has a uniquely chocolatey after-finish to it. To bring out these earthy flavors, I added 2 squares of dark bittersweet chocolate to the broth.
Wow, the taste was like nothing we've had before. Deep and flavorful, layered with nuances of sweet and earthiness, it was a big bowl of comfort. I suppose the taste can only be described as rich and malty. Instead of potatoes, next time I will add parsnips, and maybe even turnips. They would also be lovely in a dish of this depth. We ate ours with whole wheat naan (it was the only soup-sopper type bread we had), but egg noodles, a hearty polenta, or wide pappardelle pasta would be delicious, don't you think?
Lager and Beef Stew
adapted from Cook's Country magazine
2 lbs boneless beef chuck or shoulder, cut into 1 1/2" cubes
1 large onion, chopped
4 strips center cut bacon, diced
32 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups lager beer
2 Tbsp brown sugar
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 bay leaves
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 potato, scrubbed and cut into 1" cubes
1. In a dutch oven, over high heat, sear the meat on all sides in 1 Tbsp oil. Set aside.
2. In the same pot, with heat to medium, slowly cook the bacon until most of the fat is rendered. Add the onions and cook until transluscent, but still firm. Remove, and set aside. Add chicken broth, beer, sugar, chocolate, half the carrots, and the beef to the pot. Stir to scrape up and drippings. Let come to a boil, and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Stir in the bay leaves, thyme, and half the onion mixture. Pour this into your slow cooker/crock pot.
3. Set crock pot to low and cook for 6-7 hours.
4. Add the rest of the carrots, onions, and potato to the crock pot. Let cook for another 1 to 1.5 hours. Pick out the thyme and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper, if needed.
5. Serve hot.