Thursday, April 19, 2012

Coffee-Infused Beef and Hominy Stew

Certainly I am not the only mom or home cook that has more recipes "bookmarked" to try than I have storage systems or days of the week to cook it all.  Right?  I could swear that I knew exactly where the recipe was for this particular slow-cooker meal.  After all, I had made a special trip to the store to buy hominy, so of course, the recipe was right where it was supposed to be, awaiting my readiness to follow it's directions.  Wrong.  Major storage/organizational system fail.

Several Google searches turned up nothing; my memory was worse.  Even Pinterest was no help.  Could not find it.  I knew that I had seen it in a magazine, but which one I was drawing a blank.  But the meat was thawed, and the hominy was purchased.  So I was committed.

I had to talk myself into this recipe, saying aloud, "Think, are you going to do this?"  And this is what was born.

Oh, about amazing!  This aroma is unlike anything I have ever experienced!  The pungency of the wine, the complexity of the coffee, the deep flavoring of the cloves....I could smell this smell all the time!

And of course, I am always game for a yummy slow cooker (definitely the most underutilized appliance in my kitchen!) meal.

Coffee-Infused Beef and Hominy Stew {Slow-Cooker Meal}
A Karla Original

olive oil
1 package of beef stew meat (about 1-1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup red wine
salt and pepper
1 cup brewed espresso (or strong coffee)
9 carrots, peeled and quartered
3 stalks of celery, sliced
2 onions, peeled and quartered
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 pint of tomato sauce (or 1 can crushed tomatoes)
2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans white hominy, drained and rinsed

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add beef chunks.  Lightly sear on both sides, season with salt and pepper.  Add red wine and reduce slightly.  Transfer to slow cooker.

In slow cooker, add the brewed espresso (or coffee), carrots, celery, onions, and garlic.  Season with rosemary and ground cloves and gently stir to combine the spices into the meat and vegetables.  Place lid on top and cook on low 4 hours.  Add tomato sauce.  Continue cooking another 3 hours.  Add both cans of rinsed hominy and stir gently to incorporate.  Cook another hour, until beef is fork tender.

Serve over rice, small cooked pasta, or prepared soft polenta.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Homemade Chicken Stock

For some of you out there, making your own stock is the most normal thing in the world.  For me, I had to consciously decide to buy the chicken and set about to make stock.

Hi, my name is Karla and I have converted from bouillon cubes to homemade stock.

It is just that good!  I loved the faint scent that permeated my kitchen, and I loved being the one in control of the salt--boullion is almost ALL sodium (not cool!).

And really, so easy.  It literally makes itself as it simmers quietly and gently on the back burner.  In this season of life of mothering 3 munchkins, whatever can be set on autopilot is a win for me!

My biggest issue was finding enough storage containers to put that beautiful golden stock in.....a friend suggested mason jars, which I ended up using.  However, the second time I made stock, several of my jars cracked in the freezer (again, way not cool!).  So, I think that the next time I am at Wal-mart, I will pick up some plastic Ball pint-sized freezer containers.  If you plan on doing that as well, buy about 15!  Homemade stock will yield about 15 pints.

Homemade Chicken Stock
Inspired by Deliciously Organic

1 4-pound whole chicken, innards removed
1-2 carrots, peeled and ends removed
2 stalks celery, leaves included
2 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 small bunch of fresh parsley
2 twigs of fresh thyme
           {fresh herbs are preferable, but dried work as well, about 1-2 tsp. each}
1 tsp. salt (I used kosher)
1 tbl. white vinegar

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot (the largest you have) and cover with water.  Simmer over medium-low heat 6-8 hours with the lid ajar (keeps your water from evaporating).

When the meat falls off the bone and the broth is a deep golden color, strain the cooked vegetables out and discard.

Remove the chicken and bones; clean the chicken and keep for another use.

Line a fine mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth; strain broth.  Transfer strained broth to appropriate freezer containers and let cool at room temperature before placing in freezer.

{1 pint = 2 cups}