Comfort food and slow cooker go hand in hand. With minimal fuss, my slow cooker churned out endless meals of soup and stews that nourished me all winter long. However, just because it is summer now doesn’t mean I put the slow cooker away. In fact, now is the time when it is more valuable than ever! Quite simply put, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen and that is a very very good thing.
Last week I received a new recipe to test from America’s Test Kitchen’s upcoming healthy slow cooker cookbook. It is a lighter version of their classic beef stew which is one of my favourite recipes. With less meat and more vegetable, the recipe cuts down on calories with little difference in taste. In fact, my family could not tell that it was not the usual recipe we’ve come to love.
There are some slight differences in technique. Some of the grass-fed beef chuck were seared in pan to enhance the meaty taste. The vegetable were cooked directly in the broth instead of steamed in a foil package. A pound of carrots and a pound of red potatoes went into the stew. These sturdy root vegetable soaked up all the rich flavour without going mushy. I loved that this lighter recipe used a lot of crimini mushrooms. They boosted the umami factor without weighing down the dish with excessive calories.
For me, the timing is just right. This weekend will be Roller Sports Canada’s National Championship followed by Canada Day Marathon next week. My typical pre-race routine involves increasing my red meat intake a week leading up to the race. Even though I am not in top shape this year, at least I should not sabotage my races by not eating right. I hope it will be a good weekend of racing ahead of me.
It may seem counter-intuitive to make beef stew in summer. I assure you, on breezy summer evenings, the beefy taste really hit the spot. Besides, what’s not to like about a lighter version of classic comfort food? It’s swimsuit season after all! I look forward to test more recipes from this much anticipated cookbook.