I don’t know what to call this one. Really. Josh says ragout is tomato-ey-er. I mentioned chili and he immediately said no. It’s not soup, I don’t think. It’s the unknown meal. Experiment 48. Another for the recipe box, though. Did I mention how much I love my crockpot?
Today’s concoction is another of the “empty fridge” variety. Puttanesca again, only this time, it started with another recipe (more on that later) and morphed into something…unidentifiable? That’s not an appetizing word. Different. Let’s go with different.
So, swan dive into the fridge and pull out the necessities: beef bouillon (not of my own make, unfortunately), the ground beef I had left to thaw, bacon, meager vegetables, and so forth, tugging the strings of the aforementioned recipe and imagining it containing everything I had. I like lentils, which is why I like this other recipe so much. Today, sadly, I only had a small amount of green ones, but I made up for it with a dried bean mixture I found in the cupboard. To prep those, just soak them in water all day until they soften.
Best to do it overnight, if you can, but not everyone’s got that much dinner-making foresight. Beans are yummy and good for you even if they’re not SUPER soft.
So, here’s my stuff – I took this photo with the intent to use kale as well, but it got really late (and we went out for a grocery shop while it was cooking) so I decided to leave the kale out. If you wanted to use it yourself, you’re welcome to. Toss it in for the last 10 minutes (if you like extra-crunchy kale, throw it in as you serve or just a couple minutes before). And yes, that is one single, solitary carrot. That’s all there was.
To get your flavor party started, chop your shallots, garlic, celery and carrots (in this case, carrot) and throw them into the crock pot with a splash of oil. Stir a little, turn on the pot and let it start to cook while you do the rest.
Next, you’ll want to get your tomatoes. I’m using a lovely jar of my mum’s canned tomatoes, but you can use the ones in a tin. You’ll need about a cup and a half. If you’re using stewed tomatoes (whole), I’d suggest using a magic bullet or food processor to puree them. Unless, of course, you prefer whole tomatoes. Then, by all means, leave them whole. Try not to use too much of the liquid, if this is the case.
It’s doesn’t have to be exact measurements of anything. Honestly. Throw in what you have. If there’s a little extra, dump it in.
I like to use my kettle if I’m putting water in the crockpot. Everything gets so much hotter faster if you use already boiling water. Using your bouillon, make about 2 cups of stock.
I also chopped bacon. I like bacon. ‘Nuff said. Beef and bacon into the pot with the carrots, stir.
You may now throw ALL of your ingredients in your crock pot, while it’s still on and the carrots are cooking. Unceremonious tossing is encouraged. All your liquids. Season liberally – salt & pepper (duh), oregano, a bay leaf or two, and something spicy. I have red thai curry paste from a can in my freezer, so I’m using a VERY scant half teaspoon of that. It’s got kick. Doesn’t taste like it in the beginning, but once it cooks a while it’ll clear your sinuses.
Turn that pot on high, for about two hours, give or take. The longer you give it, the stronger the flavor.
I made some veggie pasta to go with it, and served like a bolognese-type sauce, like the original recipe suggests. Speaking of which, here it is! It’s a vegan recipe called Lentil Bolognese, from this excellent place called Holy Cow Vegan. I stumbled across this excellent vegan lentil bolognese one day a month or two ago and I imagined it to be delicious, with a few modifications, of course. I am wholeheartedly carnivorous.
Seriously, what is it?? Someone give it a name! Please!
It’s really good, though. Hearty. I found mine, at this point, to need a little more s&p (but when doesn’t it). There was still quite a lot of liquid – had it been allowed to cook longer I’m sure it would have thickened on its own. I had a half can of tomato paste in my freezer so I just threw that frozen chunk into the pot and let it cook a bit more.
So the first go-round with this involved a mite too much of that thai curry paste and some hot Italian sausages from the depths of the freezer. Was just past too spicy but still delicious.
This time, however…nailed it!
Unknown Stew? (I can’t even commit to something that has the word “unknown” in it??)
- ground beef
- 3 slices bacon
- 3 cloves garlic
- carrots & celery
- olive oil
- 1 1/2 c. canned tomatoes
- 2 c. beef stock
- 1/2 c. lentils
- 1/2 c. dried beans*
- salt & pepper
- thai curry paste**
- bay leaf
- tomato paste (optional)
*You can leave out the beans and use all lentils instead, if you like! You could even use a can of beans. They don’t have to be dried.
**This can be subbed with anything spicy, really. Red pepper flakes, sriracha, bit of cayenne pepper, even. Just something to bring up the heat.
Chop mirepoix. Add to crock pot with splash of olive oil and stir. Add lid, turn pot on to high heat for 1/2 hour. Chop bacon. Once mirepoix starts to smell delicious, add meat, then all remaining ingredients. Give it a bloody good stir, then leave covered on high for 2 hours (or until beans/lentils are tender). Add a small amount of tomato paste gradually if thicker consistency is more your style. Serve over noodles (or rice, or whatever).