Monday, January 25, 2021

Joey's Slow Cooker Hoisin Beef Stew



Lately I’ve really been in the mood for a nice hearty beef stew. Maybe it was the recent blast of cold air, maybe it’s because I haven’t had it in a while. Maybe it’s because a new house immediately smells like home when you have a slow cooker of beef stew cooking all day.
 Whatever the reason, I started looking at new and different beef stew recipes, and I saw a few Asian inspired recipes that use Hoisin Sauce as a base. I thought “OK now THAT sounds fabulous.” It reminded me of when my sister, Cathy, and I decided to make our own Hoisin sauce (which was fabulous, btw. I think we need to do that again, Sis!) This time, I just used jarred sauce, which is perfectly fine. Of course, I didn’t follow just one specific recipe. I took what I liked from a few different recipes and made my own. It turned out perfectly!!
 The other thing I like about this recipe is that you can prep it the night before, keep the insert chilled in the fridge overnight, and then place it in the slow cooker in the morning. All that’s left is making the rice for dinner! Easy peasy!
I’m definitely adding this one to the repertoire!

3-4 lbs beef chuck cubes
3 large carrots
4-6 large scallions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs fresh ginger, minced
8 oz fresh or frozen sugar snap peas
2 cups jarred (or homemade) Hoisin Sauce
Pinch of Kosher salt
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Cooked rice for serving
Sesame seeds for garnish, optional

In a large skillet, add a few glugs of vegetable oil and place over medium high heat. Arrange beef cubes in one layer. Do this is batches so as not to crowd the pan. Resist the urge to stir them! Just let them brown on one side to a deep dark brown. Turn the pieces over, and brown on the other side. As the pieces brown, remove them to a slow cooker. Repeat with remaining beef cubes.
 While the beef is browning, peel and slice the carrots, slice half of the scallions, and add them to the slow cooker along with the Hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger, salt, and red pepper flakes. Add a half cup of water to the now empty saute pan, and place over high heat. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up all the browned pits that are stuck to the pan, and add to the slow cooker. Give everything a good stir until well coated with the sauce. Cover and cook on low for about 7-8 hours. You could also cook on high for 3-4 hours. Add the snap peas for the last hour of cooking. When everything is finished cooking, top with remaining chopped scallions. If you’d like a thicker stew, just add a couple tbs of corn starch or tapioca starch to about 1/2 cup cold water, then stir it into the hot stew. Let it continue to cook until it becomes rich and thick and glossy. Serve over rice. Garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, if desired.

When you’re browning your beef cubes, really take the time to do it properly. Be patient! This is not a time for taking short cuts. And when I say not to crowd the pan, I mean it! There should be space between them. And I know you want to stir them around. Don’t do it! Resist the urge! Just put them in the pan, and don’t touch them. You want a nice dark sear. And if you try to turn them over and they’re stuck to the pan, it means they’re not ready yet. They’ll release from the pan when they’re ready.
This brings me to my next tip: Unless it’s the only kind of pan you have, don’t use a nonstick pan. You really want all the bits to brown on the pan. They add so much flavor!
 Don’t have snap peas? Use snow peas instead. Don’t like peas at all? Leave ‘em out! Want more carrots? Go for it! You do you!
One other tip.. when you’re making rice… saute some chopped onions or scallions in a little oil… then add the rice to the pot. Stir to combine. And here’s the real tip: Use chicken broth instead of water to cook the rice. Game changer! Best. Rice. Ever.

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