~ Easiest Stew Ever ~ No Kidding! ~

a slow cooker Oval Crock Pot

a slow cooker Oval Crock Pot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think by now you have learned not to look to me for fancy cuisine, gourmet delights, or even recipes with much more than five ingredients. But since it is November, the harbinger of cold weather, I thought I would share my recipe for the “Easiest Stew Ever” with you.

When I shared my Chili recipe in a post, I asked if you wanted my easy stew recipe. Several of you answered in the affirmative (big word for yes, I know-keep it simple stupid). A number of you nodded your heads vigorously (I could hear the rattle). So without further ado, I will give you the original recipe that my sister-in-law, Brenda, provided for me about two decades ago. Then I will tell you how I have adapted the recipe. Are you ready?

Here goes:

OVEN STEW

1 ½ lb. stewing beef

1 10 oz. can mushroom soup

1 envelope onion soup mix

¼ tsp. thyme

¼ tsp. pepper

1/3 cup sherry (or water)

Put all in casserole, cover tightly and cook 2 – 3 hours at 325 degrees. Brenda’s comment on the recipe: “All in one pot, extremely easy, very good…my kind of cooking.”

Now, I used to be a little bit of a snob about cooking with soup and soup mixes (I don’t know why—must have been from reading Gourmet magazine, not from cooking from it).

I have never made this recipe the way it was written, and a lot of times, I just throw the ingredients in the crock pot—so here is what I do ~

Put the soup and soup mix in the crock pot. Whisk it until it is smooth. (Sometimes I double the recipe). Then throw in the stewing beef—you don’t have to brown it. Add pepper and sometimes paprika if you have it.  I leave out the thyme because for some reason I do not like it. Add the water (as I never, ever have sherry and my husband does not like wine in his food.) I add more than a 1/3 cup of water (usually half a soup can unless I double it). And there you have it—

I usually cook it anywhere from 6-8 hours on low or four hours on high in the crock pot. Most of the time, I add carrots and onions and potatoes and then I have a complete meal.

Sometimes I will do it in the oven—but both ways are delicious. It makes surprisingly good gravy. If you make it without the potatoes and carrots, it is good on rice or noodles.

I have a whole binder full of recipes (not women) from my family. My sister instigated this recipe exchange about twenty two years ago, and for several Christmases members of my family would add three recipes. If there is a demand, I can make Saturday recipe day. Just to get your mouth watering– the next one I will share is my brother John’s Fried Bologna Sandwich. It is a gourmet delight (seriously).

What do you think? Should I make Saturday recipe day? And do you have any easy recipes to share or hints for fast meals?

~ From the Kitchen of the Fractured Cook ~ Best Chili Ever

Mom's chili. #food #foodporn

Mom’s chili. (Photo credit: pindarninja)

I have a nostalgic recipe for my Mom’s  “Favourite Chili” hanging on the bulletin board attached to my refrigerator. It calls for things like real kidney beans that you have to parboil, chopped onion and green peppers, cumin, cloves, chili powder, garlic cloves, tomatoes, and salt to taste. I just love recipes that say “salt to taste”. Sounds like they are giving you “creative licence”.

I am going to tell you how to make the best and fastest chili in the world, but you need to remember several things before I reveal my recipe:

1. If something takes more than ten minutes to fix, I don’t fix it.

2. Shortcut cooking is my kind of cooking.

3. I am no purist.

4. I rarely follow a recipe—I cook by ear (you know, some people play music by ear, I cook by ear)

5. I think cooking from scratch is laudable. It is something I rarely do, but it is laudable.

Okay, are you ready?

Cook some hamburg (if I were being official I would say a pound to a pound and a half, and scramble fry it).

Add some chopped onion if you are feeling really creative, while you are cooking the hamburg.

Once the hamburg is browned, add a big can of tomatoes (32 oz if you are getting fussy); a can of kidney beans (the cheapest you can find on the shelf); a can of tomato sauce (whatever size you have); a can of tomato soup; and some water (usually about half a tomato soup can).

Add one packet of chili mix (I use President’s Choice or Old El Paso—but it is your choice). I put this in at any point in the process, usually just after the meat has been browned and before I add the liquids. Sometimes I forget and add it later—like now.

If you are still feeling creative, peel a clove or two of garlic, cut in half and drop into chili. (I cut it big for easy retrieval later.)

Add a teaspoon or so of cocoa and some “salt to taste”. And some black pepper if you want.

Heat until it bubbles, then turn down to a simmer for a couple of hours. If you don’t have a couple of hours, twenty minutes will do.

Ladle (I used the word dump at first but thought that was too indelicate) into bowls and serve with toast or garlic bread or bread right from the wrapper.

As I have noted several times in this blog, I am a white girl of Scottish, English, Irish, French, and Pennsylvania Dutch origins. There may be something else in the mix—I am not sure.  Other people in my family, with exactly the same origins are really good cooks and they cook from scratch.  So, what is my excuse?

If truth be told, I am not a bad cook. And I love good food lovingly prepared. I just choose to lovingly prepare mine in as little time as possible. If you liked this recipe I can share my Best Ever Easy Beef Stew with you, but be forewarned, there is no searing and very little chopping in my recipe–but it is tasty and not time-consuming. Ask and it will be given.

For now, happy Friday to all, and to all a good weekend.

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