Thursday, March 7, 2013

Crock Pot Pepper Steak

Thursdays are crazy.  Have I mentioned that before?

Today was no exception, especially because the rest of my week has consisted of getting back from a weekend ski vacation, a holiday off school, a midnight trip to the ER with my husband, an unexpected snow day, and a full-day field trip with my daughter's class.  I barely know which end is up.

I've mentioned before that I'm not the best at planning ahead, and that's probably one of the reasons I don't do a lot of crock pot meals.  Well, that, and honestly, a lot of them just don't have a lot of flavor to me.  But I do have a handful of good, tasty crock pot meals in my arsenal.  And tonight, one of those is on the menu: Pepper Steak.

I love Chinese food, or at least the Americanized version that we can find at restaurants on almost every major street around here.  Pepper steak is pretty much one of those dishes that you feel safe ordering from those places.  I think the reason for that is that, while the flavors are awesome together, they're also easy.  Peppers.  Beef.  Onions.  Bam.

Turns out, making it in a crock pot is easy, pretty quick if you have good chopping skills, and delicious.  The flavors are able to meld.  The beef gets fall-apart-in-your-mouth-without-chewing tender.  It's one of our favorites.  I love that I can throw it in earlier in the day, set my rice cooker on delay, and know that when we get home from gymnastics, a good meal will be all set for us to enjoy.  Well, after it cools a bit, because that stuff gets lava hot in there!

So, to the recipe.  Take a bunch of onions and cut them into wedges, about 6 wedges each onion, unless they're huge, in which case, more.  Chop a bunch of peppers into 2-inch (ish) pieces.  I like to use a rainbow of peppers, if I can, but any you have will do.  This is a great dish for summer, when the peppers and tomatoes are flowing and you don't want to heat up your kitchen by cooking on the stove or in the oven.

Put those in the crock pot.  Add some tomatoes. Today I did some crushed tomatoes from my freezer along with some cherry tomatoes that I had on hand fresh.  Canned tomatoes work fine, if you have those.  Stewed tomatoes are probably my favorite to use in the recipe because they add a little extra flavor in there.

Next, chop some beef into about 2-inch cubes.  I used a grass-fed round steak today.  You can use whatever steak or roast you're comfortable with and have.  Heck, they even sell stew beef chunks at the meat counter...feel free to use those and save the chopping time if you want!  Add the beef to the pot.

On top of that, grind some fresh pepper, pour some soy sauce over it, and about a cup of beef stock.  If you want a thicker gravy on it, mix some cornstarch in with the stock before adding it.  If you don't have beef stock, beef bullion dissolved in a cup of warm water works too.  Do not stress about ingredient substitutions!  Give everything a stir to combine.  Put on the lid and set it 8-10 hours on low or 4-6 on high.  Don't lift the lid while it's cooking.  Just don't.  I hear it's really bad...lets out the heat and can cause bacteria to run wild and abduct your pets or something like that...

...and After

*Warning: this will smell delicious, and you will turn ravenous with wanting to devour it.  Best made when you are not going to be in the house with it the whole day.

Serve it over rice, or as a stew, or however else you'd like!

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