Crock Pot Balsamic Shredded Beef

January 13th, 2014

Crock Pot Beef 1

Because it has been so cold in Florida and because I have been reading so many blogs from the more frigid regions of our country, I just had to pull out the slow cooker to cook something long and slow all day; something that would perfume the house and build an anticipation for the satisfying meal to come. I had a chuck roast freshly defrosted from the freezer and several different recipes for crock pot beef to choose from. I ended up combining several.   What I was looking for was intense flavor to offset the richness of the beef.  The balsamic vinegar went a long way in achieving that goal.  There are some recipes for slow cooker beef that include dried onion soup mix and cream of “whatever” soup.  I try to stay away from those recipes.  The additive ladened products just seem to intensify over long cooking, in my humble opinion. And not in a good way.

Crock Pot Beef 3


The ingredients I used were simple; beef broth, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and a bit of ketchup.  The resulting beef was succulent and delicious.  The sauce was especially good.  It was so good in fact that for lunch the next day I made a “Dip Sandwich”.  The tender beef and juices made for a marvelous sandwich.

Crock Pot Beef Sandwich

The sandwiches would be great for a super bowl party.


1 4 to 5 pound chuck roast
1 tablespoon of canola oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
Red pepper flakes to taste, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon

Place 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet.  When hot, add chuck roast and cook until browned on one side.  Turn, add onions and garlic to pan along with the meat.  Cook on second side until it is browned and onions are softened.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Place browned meat. onions and garlic in a slow cooker.  Mix together the remainder of the ingredients and pour over beef.  Cook the beef, covered in the slow cooker on a low setting for 7 to 8 hours.  Remove beef to a plate.  Shred it with two forks and return to slow cooker to combine with the juices.   Serve.

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Braised Short Ribs on Garlic Mash with Green Beans and Roasted Tomatoes

December 27th, 2012

In my last post I included the above picture of dishes that I served over the holidays.  Number 1 is Braised Short Ribs on Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Green Beans and Roasted Tomatoes. If you want to impress your guests on New Year’s Eve, you won’t do better than this.  It is pretty to look at and the beef is so tender that all you need is a fork to enjoy it.  I have several boneless short ribs recipe in my repertoire,  but this one is so special that I will make it for birthday parties, Christmas dinners, New Year’s or any other special occasion for which I want to make people feel special.

The presentation is the key.  If you have a wide mouth white soup bowl it would be stunning.  But even served on my black and white dinner plates it looked festive.


The recipe came from Chuck Hughes on The Food Network.  I was intrigued by it because of the unusual ingredients including beets, cinnamon, cocoa powder and brown sugar.  The beets impart a dark color to the sauce and the flavorings give it a hint of sweetness.  I have changed the amount of brown sugar.  It called for 1 cup but that seemed excessive.


I can’t think of a better way to bring in the New Year.  Your friends and family will thank you.  Happy New Year everyone.



2 packages boneless short ribs (about 16 to 18 total) or 8 bone-in short ribs
3 large onions, coarsely chopped
3 to 4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
4 carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 beets, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 heads of garlic, cut in half
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme
1 star anise (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
Coarse salt
1 cup flour
Canola oil
2 bottles red table wine
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
Handful peppercorns
1 to 2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the onion, celery, carrots, beets and garlic.  Add the rosemary, thyme, star anise, and cinnamon stick, and set aside.

If using bone-in ribs, trim off the excess outer fat.  Season the ribs well with coarse salt.  Dredge in flour until well coated.

In a (very) large Dutch oven or wide soup pot on high heat, pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the ribs to the hot oil and sear the ribs so they are browned on all sides.  You will have to do this it batches for the boneless ribs.  Remove the ribs and set aside.

In the same pan, transfer all the vegetables from the bowl, and stir to caramelize and pick up all the brown bits.  Add the meat back into the pot.  Pour the wine over top.  Ensure all is covered with the liquid and if not, top up with water.

Add the cocoa powder, brown sugar and peppercorns, and bring to a boil, cover with a lid or foil, and place in the oven until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours.  Remove the ribs to a platter, and strain out the solids to use for something else.

Boil the cooking liquid in a wide shallow pan until it is reduced by half.  It will be richer, more flavorful and thicker.  Add a nub of butter at the end for sheen and flavor.

Serve the short ribs on a mound of Garlic Mashed Potatoes, topped with green beans and roasted cherry tomatoes.



1 heat garlic
1 tablespoon good, fruity olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A sprig or 2 of fresh herbs (rosemary or thyme)
6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, and quartered
1 stick butter
1 cup cream or half and half

Slice the top off a garlic head and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the fresh herbs.  Wrap in a tin foil packet, and roast in the oven for about 1 hour.

Fill a large saucepan with water; add a few good pinches of coarse salt and the potatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until just fork tender.  Do not over cook or the potatoes will be soggy.  Drain off the water, leaving the potatoes in the pot.

Add the butter and cream to the potatoes and mash well.

Remove the garlic from the oven.  Squeeze the garlic cloves into the potatoes, and stir in.  The consistency you want is rough, with some lumps.  Seaon the potatoes with salt, and pepper, if desired.



Stem the beans and place them in boiling water.  Cook until crisp tender.  Plunge the beans into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the color.  Set aside until ready to assemble dish.  Just before serving time, heat a couple of tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.  Add beans and toss to coat.  Cook until just heated through.

Place a pint of cherry tomatoes on a small baking sheet.  Coat with olive oil, coarse salt and pepper.  Place in a 400 degree oven and cook just until skins begin to burst, about 10 minutes.

Printable recipe



Beef Stroganoff Soup

September 30th, 2011

As much as I love beef stroganoff, it seems I never have enough sauce for the noodles.  It occured to me that I could actually turn all of the ingredients into a soup.  It is a creative cooking adventure to deconstruct a recipe and turn it into something else.  Rachel Ray is always doing this with her stoups.  I wonder if she has done it with beef stroganoff?  I haven’t looked.

We have had a constant house party here at the lake this September.  It has been fun, but cooking for two again is relaxing.  The weather has cooled and I have the last load of beach towels in the dryer ready to be folded and stored for the season.  The light on the lake has lengthened and mornings are crisp and clear.  It is soup time.

The beef stroganoff recipe came about because it was what I had on hand.  There was a top sirloin steak in the freezer, beef broth and noodles in the pantry, and heavy cream and sour cream in the fridge.  It would have been good with mushrooms if I had them but the lack of them did not change the goodness of the soup.

A quick word about photography and my blog makeover.  The above picture was taken at my kitchen window which receives morning light.  The shadow that you see on the plate could be easily eliminated.   Cristobal told me that by using a white core board in front of the soup the light from the window would be reflected back on the food.  Here is an example of what I am talking about from expert photographer and blogger Helene of  Tartlette.  Notice the white board in her fourth picture.  I just need to get one for myself.  My new blog look is still in the works.  Son Michael is doing it in his spare time, so I will have to be patient. 

But you don’t have to be patient waiting for this soup to cook.  It comes together quickly and tastes like it cooked for hours.


1 1/2 to 2 pounds top sirlion steak or roast cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 to 3 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 to 2 cups medium egg noodles
1/2 cup heavy cream
Sour cream and snipped chives for garnish

Melt butter and oil in heavy soup pot.  Add beef cubes in two batches and cook until nicely browned.  Add the chopped onion when you add the second batch of beef.  Return reserved beef to pot and add the sherry to the mixture.  Stir to deglaze the pan and cook over medium high heat until the sherry has reduced.  Salt and pepper the beef to taste.  Add the beef broth, water and Worcestershire sauce to pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until beef is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.  Add the noodles to the pot and simmer until they are cooked through.  Add the cream to the mixture and stir and cook until it is warmed through.  Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and snipped chives.

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