Every time we move, I lose my recipe binder and rejoice upon finding it again.
The binder’s not fancy. It’s a tattered, spiral-ring binder overflowing with recipes I’ve collected since college. Some of the recipes are photocopies of my mom’s cookbooks or library books. Others are packets I’ve collected from cooking classes. A few recipes are from friends who actually hand wrote them on recipe cards, while others are clippings from old Star Tribune Taste sections.
According to the time stamp on my recipe, I printed it February of 2007. At this time, I was finishing my senior year of college where I lived in a house with a group of friends. We were in the midst of planning a party to welcome our housemate back from Mali. Looking back, I must have searched online for West African recipes and chosen this stew.
I love vinegar.
I clean with vinegar and I cook with vinegar. There’s always a collection of vinegar bottles in my cupboard. At any given moment, my pantry may contain white vinegar, mellow rice wine vinegar, tart red wine vinegar, balsamic, the sweeter white balsamic, or fruity apple cider. I’m not sure if my tastes are changing as I’m getting older, but I crave the tangy note vinegar adds to dishes. Some people are tiring of restaurants squirting ornate tapestries of reduced balsamic drizzle on everything, but honestly, I couldn’t even be that mad.
One of my new favorite flavor combinations is salty soy sauce and tart vinegar in Filipino-style adobo. I’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy real adobo from a Filipino restaurant, but have tried preparing adobo-style dishes in my slow cooker. According to this Splendid Table piece about adobo, the step that really sets adobo apart is browning the meat after it’s done cooking. I never completed this extra step when I prepared my chicken or beef dishes. We dipped our forks directly into the crock pot for tastes and liked them so much so we dug in right away.
This beef stew is easy to throw together in the morning before work. As a word of caution, those of you who know me know that I usually cook without carefully measuring ingredients. This recipe provides a basic outline of how I adapted this recipe for the stew. Not to fear, though. Crock pot recipes are usually forgiving and you can’t go too wrong with a sauce made of soy, vinegar and sugar. Just be careful not to add much additional salt, besides the soy sauce. When the dish is done cooking and the beef’s tender, skim off the excess fat and taste the sauce to see if it needs more sugar, soy or vinegar.
Adobo-Style Beef Stew In The Slow Cooker
Adapted from Kaz’s recipe for Beef Adobo (Slow Cooker Recipe) posted on Knittingforums.org, 2009.
2 lbs. stew beef (My favorite butcher recommended chuck)
Flour, about two tablespoons (Omit if gluten-free)
5 tablespoons soy sauce
5 tablespoons vinegar (I used white vinegar)
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
2 bay leaves
Water or broth (try to use low-sodium)
- Preheat large skillet to medium-high.
- Place beef in a large bowl and dust with enough flour to lightly cover each piece. Stir pieces around so they’re evenly coated.
- Drop stew beef in hot vegetable oil and brown on a couple of sides. Try your best to leave the excess flour in the bowl. Brown beef in two batches if necessary. Overcrowding your pan will steam the meat instead of brown it.
- Add browned beef to crock pot.
- Add soy sauce, vinegar, onion, garlic, ginger, honey, and bay leaves to the crock pot. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the crock pot. I added about 1 1/2 cups. Stir.
- Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until the beef is perfectly tender. If you are home, stir the stew occasionally. Some of the pieces that stick to the edges of the crock pot become dry.
- When the stew is finished, let the stew sit on warm long enough for the fat to rise to the top. Gently skim off with a spoon. A little sheen is ok! Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
- Serve with your favorite grain and vegetable.