Friday, July 10, 2009

Provencal Beef Stew

My best friend has the most amazing-looking crock pot cookbook. There's a picture for every recipe and they all sound fabulous. She let me borrow it to try out three new recipes this week. This is the first. While I'm not overly impressed with it, this hearty stew was still filling and very beefy. As always, I made several substitutions. Instead of the carrots it called for, I used potatoes that are sitting around plus 1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms leftover from the chicken marsala. My bouquet garni only consisted of a bay leaf and some thyme I'm still trying to use. Plus, I didn't use tomato paste.

One day, I'm going to own my own food company. On that day, I am going to alter the life of tomato paste as we know it. It shall come in tubes! Yes, tubes! That way, you can use just the 2 teaspoons called for and not have the rest of the can hanging out until it grows mold. I don't care how carefully you plan, I don't care how much you cook- unless a recipe calls for the whole can, you end up trashing some of it. Am I right? I thought so. I'll step off my soapbox now.

Back to ingredients. I got to open my new bottle of wine (from the wine tasting that I promise I will blog about soon) and the homemade beef stock I made in the crock pot a few weeks ago. Oh, did I forget to mention that? It's beefed up beef stock. Like, I took the time to broil the onions and beefy bone bits and everything. I even froze it in individual 1 cup portions. I'll stop now.

It's alright. I'll eat it, but won't make it again. Why? I'll bet you five bucks it's lack of tomato paste. Damn it. Otherwise it was just straight beef. Beef in beef stock with little else to distract from that. It needs that added depth of flavor to make everything shine. Of course, my best friend really liked it, so it's a matter of personal taste. I'm not scared off for three reasons. 1) Come on, this is me. 2) It's only one recipe. And 3) It's my fault that it wasn't as tasty as it could have been. If you'd like to check out the book, it's called "The Slow Cooker Recipe Book" by Catherine Atkinson. Stay tuned for the next two recipes.


Mariana said...

Yes, it's hard to cook w/o tomato products sometimes, especially when it comes to beef. It truely does add that extra depth you need to punch up the flavor. You could have just added some leftover red wine to it to add "something". Plus, I'm finding out the more I use it in cooking that it seems to tenderize the meat better/more.
Can't wait to hear about you wine tasting adventure. See ya, this coming weekend Lovie.

Mary said...

Actually if you look really hard and pay a lot of money you can find tomato paste in tubes. But what I do is I use what I need of tomato paste out of the can and then drop tablespoons of tomato paste into ziplock baggies, label them and freeze them. They thaw out great and then I'm not wasting can after can of tomato paste. :)

Zylo said...

Yes! Brilliant, Mary. Okay, next time I need to, I'm going to try this. At least if I still have to throw it out, I'll know I tried.