Within a few hours of this being posted, Karen and I will be heading out into the woods near North Plains, OR, for the Northwest Warrior Dash – a little over three miles of mayhem and mischief from the looks of previews and pictures of other events from around the country. And given the recent couple of days of rainy fall weather, I don’t think they’ll have much trouble with providing plenty of mud for the event.
Another thing that rainy fall weather provides is an reason for us to settle in with some good “comfort food.” Soups, stews, chili – the sort of meals that fill the house with wonderful smells as they slow-cook to perfection. Meals that you can sit down with when your bones themselves are damp, and feel the warmth slowly dry you out with each bite. The best thing about most of these sort of meals is that they take very little prep work. You toss a few ingredients in the slow cooker, turn it to low, and leave it go for the rest of the day (or until you can’t resist the temptation to pull off the lid and devour the whole thing). This convenience, however, can have a negative: there is the time it takes for everything to cook and commingle together to create the wonderful result we’re needing so badly to warm us up.
Not so with this recipe. Ready in under 30 minutes from pulling all the ingredients out to sitting down with a spoon in hand ready to eat, this one is a great solution for the rainy day when you haven’t planned ahead and gotten something started early.
- 1-1/2 lbs grass-fed free-range ground beef
- 2 carrots
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 medium or 2~3 small tomatoes (I added them mid-way, so they missed the photo)
- 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp water (divided)
- 1/4 cup dry red wine (I prefer merlot)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1-1/2 tsp Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning blend
- 1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp sage
- 1/2 bay leaf
Grab a large sauce pan and throw in the burger on medium heat to brown until crumbly. I usually start with it right out of the freezer (back to not planning ahead) and will throw the lid on to hold in the steam and speed up the thawing/browning process, checking every so often to break it up and make sure it’s not burning.
While the meat is browning, peel and slice the carrots and throw them in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Chop up the onion and toss it in the bowl as well. Add the 2 tbsp of water (check it out – I actually used a measuring spoon!), put a loose-fitting lid on the bowl, and nuke it for 2 minutes on high. We’re shooting to pre-cook those harder veggies a bit by cheating a little.
When that is done, slice up the tomatoes and throw them in as well (these beauties are from our CSA share at Gus and Co). Then turn back to the pot with the burger. You didn’t forget about it, did you? Good.
Depending on how fatty your burger is, you may want to drain some of it before proceeding (even though the fat from a grass-fed animal is really very good for you, I still prefer to not have too much of it on the top of my stews and chili). Once you have taken care of excess fat, go ahead and toss everything else into the pot. Give it a good stir (make sure that bay leaf is in the middle somewhere), then put the lid on it and get it up to a boil on medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10~15 minutes.
While you’re waiting for that to simmer, whip up a little garden salad for good measure. This one’s got romaine lettuce, beet tops and tomatoes from our CSA share, cucumber from the plant my oldest daughter started to grow at the end of last school year, and some mushrooms, broccoli, and yellow bell pepper from the store.
After things have simmered for 10~15 minutes, your stew should look something like this.
Serve it up with the salad on the side (with a little balsamic vinegar for dressing), and get ready to be warmed.