Tuesday, September 13, 2011

God Bless the Slow Cooker

Hi everyone!  Who’s excited that it is almost fall?  Me, me, me!  We’ve even had some rain and thunder storms to get me in the mood for fall.  Starbucks has their fall drinks, every store is showcasing boots and sweaters, bathing suits are 75% off…..all signs point to fall!  Fall makes me crave warm, comfort food…you too? 
Yesterday, I was feeling particularly fallish, so I busted out my slow cooker.  I think that a slow cooker is the best thing for making yummy comfort food.  You throw a bunch of stuff inthe pot in the morning, and when you come home….your house smells amazing and you are ready to eat!  This is really good when the kids are back in school.  Especially if they have after school activities, you work, etc.  But I am sure you all know the benefits of the slow cooker.  That would be why the “Crock Pot Girls” have over one million fans;)
When I was little, my mom used her slow cooker pretty frequently.  It was the early 80’s after all…..One thing she made a lot was “Swiss Steak”.  Swiss Steak is basically beef cooked in a gravy of tomatoes and peppers.  I never knew what was “Swiss” about it, so I googled it.  According to Wikipedia, it has nothing to do with Switzerland.  There is a process called “Swissing” which basically means that the meat has been run through a tenderizer to break up the tough fibers.  In case you didn’t know, Swiss Steak is made with tough, cheap cuts of beef.  Appetizing, right?;)  Stay with me, it does get better.
Like I said above, Swiss Steak is made with cheaper cuts of beef.  Typically, people use round steak that has been tenderized.  This is sold under the name “cube steak”.  It looks like it is made with ground beef, but it isn’t.  It is also used to make Chicken Fried Steak.  It is easy to find.
Besides the cube steak, this recipe also stars onion, garlic, bell peppers, diced tomatoes, wine and salt and pepper.  I used diced tomatoes with roasted garlic.  Since I also use fresh garlic, you can use plain canned tomatoes if a lot of garlic isn’t your thing.  I happen to LOVE garlic.  Also, typically red wine would be used with beef, but you know what?  I had white already open.  I wasn’t opening another bottle for one cup.  If you have red, use red.  If you have white, use white.  If you have pink….don’t use that.  But know that you are awesome for drinking pink wine.
I really feel that when using beef (or pork) in a slow cooker, you have to brown it on the stove top first.  You really can’t get away with skipping that step.  The beef will be gray and tasteless if you don’t brown it first.
I dredged my cube steaks in seasoned (with salt and pepper) flour.  Just a bit….this will also help thicken the sauce as it cooks in the slow cooker.
I briefly browned each piece of cube steak in a bit of oil.  I’m not trying to cook it through…..I just want to sear each side.  So do this over high heat to get a quick sear.
Then, everyone into the pool!  I had diced the peppers and onions so that they were about the same size as the diced tomatoes.  I nestled the meat all nice and cozy down in the sauce.  Then I bid it adieu for at least 8 hours.  Wouldn’t they say “adieu” in Switzerland?
I serve my Swiss Steak over cheesy grits.  Mashed potatoes or noodles would also work, but I really like the creamy grits with this dish.  And yes, I realize that my above picture is pretty much an advertisement for Wal-Mart…..that is my local grocery store.  I will keep shopping there until I am featured on www.peopleofwalmart.com.
Anyhoo, I used quick grits, Swiss cheese, butter and milk.  The milk is actually up to you.  I only add it if my grits have gotten too thick.  The butter is essential, however.
I followed the directions on the package to make 6 servings of grits.  When they were thickened, I added shredded Swiss cheese and butter.  Yum!
After 8 hours, of me really doing nothing, I got this yummy beef stew that I got to eat with cheesy, buttery grits.  Really, what is better than a slow cooker?  It’s like I have a cheffy assistant!  
When beef is cooked in a slow cooker, even cheap cuts, it ends up so tender.  It falls apart on its own.  You don’t even need a knife!  And cooked with wine, tomatoes, garlic, etc.  So, so good.  I hope you try this recipe!  You know your mom used to make it…..Bring it back!

Swiss Steak
Cube Steak (about 1 ¾ pounds)
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup bell pepper, diced
6 garlic cloves, diced
Two 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes with roasted garlic
1 cup red wine
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
¼ cup vegetable oil
In a shallow bowl, mix flour with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.  Dredge each piece of cube steak in seasoned flour.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.  Sear each piece of cube steak until browned, about 2 minutes each side.
Place remaining ingredients in slow cooker.  Add browned cube steak.  Cook on low for about 8 hours.
Serves 4-6

Swiss Cheesy Grits
4 cups water
1 cup Quick Grits
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
4 tablespoons butter
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup milk, optional
In a pot, bring water to a boil.  Add 1 teaspoon salt and grits.  Cover and cook over medium heat for about 7 minutes.  Grits should thicken.  Turn off heat and add butter, cheese, remaining salt and pepper.  If grits are too thick, add milk.  Serve with Swiss Steak.
Serves 4-6

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to make this recipe for sure!!!