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Crockpot and Dutch Oven Basics

To be honest, I don’t think I have ever cooked anything in a Crockpot.  What I do use, however, is a Unknowndutch oven-a large, heavy bottomed soup pot that can serve the same purpose. So, whether you have a Crockpot or a soup pot, here are some essential tips and basic instructions for making a great stew in your vessel of choice:

1. Take the time to sear your meat!  You can use beef, pork, lamb…  Heat your oil over hight heat and add your meat (cut into 1.5-2 in. chunks) and get a nice golden crust on all sides of the meat.  Don’t overcrowd the pan, and realize that it might take a while… This is an important step to making a delicious stew!

2. Once the meat is done searing, remove it to a plate and reserve.  Next, add a mirepoix (fancy French culinary term for a combination of 50% onions and 25% each carrots and celery) to the pan and saute until slightly caramelized.  To the mirepoix you can add garlic and spices of your choice.  Don’t forget to season liberally with salt!

3. After the vegetables have cooked and caramelized, add your liquid.  For a hearty beef of lamb stew, beef stock is my liquid of choice.  When using chicken or pork, I might go for chicken stock.  You can also add crushed or diced tomatoes at this point.  Let the liquid come to a boil and add your meat back to the pan.  Reduce to a simmer and cover, and cook for as long as possible- the longer the better!  I aim for at least a couple of hours to get tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat.

4. Don’t forget to taste for seasoning before you serve!  Served alongside or on top or rice, mashed potatoes, pasta, or polenta.

Happy Crockpotting!

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