Rant. That’s what I’m doing today. I’m ranting because of the incredible failure that this recipe was! I mean, how hard can a beef stew be?! It shouldn’t be hard at all…that’s the answer…and that was not a rhetorical question. Good freaking grief. I saw this recipe and thought, “Yeah, I could improve my stew. This looks easy.” The ingredients were (seemingly) simple, and it was a CROCK-POT meal for heaven’s sakes! Those are supposed to be the EASIEST and LEAST TIME CONSUMING meals of ALL TIME!!!
Ughhh…nothing bothers me more than a crockpot meal that actually wastes more time than it saves. So here we go – reasons why I’m ranting about this recipe:
- Ingredients: Stew is easy. You have meat, you have potatoes, you have vegetables, and you have some broth, tomato base, whatever. This soup had beef demi-glace. Huh? Oh well, if my store doesn’t have it I can use her second-best option, Swanson’s Flavor Boost. Apparently if you can’t find demi-glace, you can settle for the other option. By this step I already felt disappointed because my red-headed-step-child-stew wasn’t going to live up to the “Best Ever” promises of the recipe. Here comes wrench #2: no Swanson’s Flavor Boost. What??? I live in an area of the country where almost everything is accessible at the local grocer. I guess “almost” means not this. Did she provide a third option if you strike out on #1 and #2? No. So I subbed in some “Better Than Bouillon,” roasted beef flavor. Did it taste anything like her fabulous demi-glace stew? The world will never know…or at least I won’t because I’m never making this stupid stew again.
- Prep Time: So before you dump all of your ingredients into the crockpot, you first have to braise two pounds of stew beef. (I’m still laughing about this because it was a nightmare.) Here’s how I saw it all going down: I’m a working mom, so I thought I’d just wake up a bit earlier this morning, saunter into my clean kitchen, gracefully brown some meat on my stove, and have it all in the crock-pot by the time my beautiful and well-behaved children awakened. I even chopped my veggies up the night before, so this would be a breeze…right? W-R-O-N-G! Reality: I woke up thirty minutes late, scrambled to throw some clothes on and do my hair, helped my hubby wrangle and clothe the babes, and threw some stew beef in a bag of flour (forgot the seasoning salt in my haste). I shook it up and was about to dump it all in the pan when I realized I had two pounds and this pan wasn’t going to be able to brown it well in one batch! Okay, so batch #1…it’s going well, it’s smelling good, I give it a minute and turn it…okay I’ve got some brown crispies on the bottom, that’s good for flavor…time to take it out of the pot. It’s not all coming out…oh well. Batch #2…same pot…on top of previous crispies that are getting darker and more stuck to the pan by the second…new pieces are sticking to the bottom…can’t get them loose…afraid to braise all sides of these pieces because I’m going to end up with a quarter-inch of burned meat that will never be removed!!!! ABORT MISSION!! Well, at least I got one side braised. Next, I have to saute the friggin’ onions – IN THE SAME PAN!!! Why didn’t I just get a new pan? I don’t know…because it was 7am, I wasn’t thinking, and I hate dirtying (huge) dishes. I throw the onions in there, stir them around, try to get some of the “crispies” of the bottom with little luck, and toss them in the crock pot. Phew! I could go on, but the point is…it was a disaster.
- Taste: In the middle of my meat fiasco, I thought, “this stew had better be dang good in order for me to forgive this ridiculous prep experience.” But ya know…it was just okay. It was actually rather bland (yes, I did eventually put the seasoned salt in). Going in, I thought it was going to be rich, bold, something to write home about. Well, I’ll write home, but only to tell my momma not to make this one.
I really hate to rip a recipe apart like this. I love people, I love their efforts, I love new ideas. But I do NOT love it when my vision of an easy crock-pot meal turns into an enormous time sucking nightmare. Set it and forget it? Not this one, friends. Just forget it.
**Just in case anyone wants to know…yes, I did put oil in my pan.
Recipe courtesy of Mrs. Happy Homemaker.
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