Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Slowly cooking into 2017

Stews cooked in the slow cooker are the perfect antidote to January's frosty temperatures

January's cold weather is the perfect time for a hearty stew

January's cold weather is the perfect time for a hearty stew

Happy new year! As I write the first column of this new year, it’s sunny and minus 17. Yikes, that’s cold!

I spent some time yesterday mulling over changes I might make this year and in the end pared it down to a very few. After all, most resolutions are broken by Jan. 15.

My year ended three weeks before my preparations for Christmas were done! Good thing we went to Calgary for the holidays because even my  tree wasn’t decorated, never mind the house. As for baking, I started at 9 p.m. the night before we left and quit at 3:15 a.m., questioning my sanity.

However, I’m looking forward to a new year and wish you all a year of good health, with a good share of happiness, and enough prosperity to enjoy a dream or two. Come home to these great tasting slow-cooker recipes.

Slow-Cooked Cabbage Roll Stew

3 strips bacon, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated

1 lbs. ground beef or pork

1 clove garlic, minced

6 cups diced green or savoy cabbage

2 – 28-oz. tins diced tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish

1 Tbsp. sweet paprika

2 tsp. celery salt

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup long grain brown rice (such as basmati)

Salt and pepper

Sour cream, for garnish

Cook the bacon in a large, heavy-bottom soup pot over medium heat until it is crisp. Remove the bacon and reserve, and drain off all but 2 Tbsp. of the remaining fat.

Add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté over medium heat until the onion is almost translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef or pork and cook through, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook one minute more. Stir in the cabbage and add the tomatoes, stock, vinegar, horseradish, paprika, celery salt, bay leaves and rice and stir. Cover the pot and bring it up to a full simmer. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook the soup until the rice is fully cooked, about 40 minutes. Season to taste. Remove the bay leaves, add back the cooked bacon and serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

2 cups (500 mL) each baby carrots and sliced celery

1 small onion, cut into wedges

2 leaves bay leaves

1 1/2 lbs. (750 g) stewing beef, cut into 1” (2.5 cm) cubes

1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. (1 mL) ground black pepper

1 Tbsp. (15 mL) canola oil

2 cups low-sodium beef broth

1/2 Tbsp. (7 mL) Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine vegetables in 4½ qt. (4.3 L) slow cooker. Add bay leaves.

Place stewing beef, flour and pepper into a sealable plastic bag and toss to coat beef.

Brown beef well on all sides in heated oil over medium-high heat in large non-stick skillet. Place beef on top of vegetables in slow cooker.

Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and garlic to skillet and combine well with pan drippings. Pour mixture over beef and vegetables. Cook, covered, on HIGH setting for 4 hours or until the beef reaches internal temperature of 165 F (74 C) and is fork-tender. Discard bay leaves before serving.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.