Monday, January 11, 2010

Breaking in the new Crock Pot : Espresso Braised Beef Tips

It is official - we are swamped and it is a ridiculous thing to try and have two adults that work full time (plus) try and raise twins without help. It is kicking our butts. We need the two incomes ; can't really do anything about the lack of help; and we have to figure out something to make life a little easier/healthier/less hectic. So to that end, I have purchased a larger crock pot (my old one is too small to do a medium size roast) and I am trying to make a realistic goal of using it at least once every two weeks. We are also trying to do a better job of managing the grocery bill and trips. I bought two beef roasts on sale ($1.99!) and boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale ($1.79 pound!) this past weekend and now I am working on using them wisely AND easily. (Because cereal, I have been told, is not really dinner fare.)

This week we are trying Espresso Braised Beef Tips.

3 pounds beef stew meat (I used a tip roast) - chopped into 1.5 in chunks, blotted dry
2-4 Tbs flour w/ salt and pepper mixed in - all in a big ziplock
3 Tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped large
3-5 carrots chopped into 2 in. pieces
4 new or red potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 small turnips, peeled and quartered
1 cup strong coffee
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup red wine
  • Use the ziplock bag to shake and coat the chunks of beef. In a larger skillet over med-high heat, heat half the oil. Add half the beef and brown on all sides. When browned transferred to the crock pot. (Don;t crowd the skillet!)
  • Add the onions to the skillet and cook until just starting to soften and brown a little. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  • Add the other veggies to the cooker, then add in the thyme and coffee.
  • Pour the red wine into the skillet and use to de-glaze the pan. Make sure you scrap up all the little brown bits.
  • Pour this liquid into the cooker, give it all a good stir, and cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.

The Verdict: This was very easy and very tasty. It did need salt - I think it would have benefited from some salt during cooking. Also, we did not have turnips - so I just left them out and added extra carrots. I actually ran out of fresh carrots and added a bag of frozen baby carrots. You couldn't even tell the difference
I took about 2 cups of the liquid out of the crock, stirred in a little cornstarch to thicken it up, and mixed it all back in and then served with old fashioned home-made biscuits.

If you are feeling brave, I think something that would really make this an over the top dish would be a different treatment for thickening the cooking liquid. I would suggest crumbling a few gingersnap cookies into the broth while stirring in a small pot. It will thicken it nicely and add a hint of sweetness. Add the crumbs a little at a time or it will get to thick. I know it sounds weird, but trust me -- it works like magic.

BONUS: The kiddos like it and it is tender enough that they can manage to chew it up. Yummy!

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