CrockPot Mongolian Beef
After a few weeks off, I’m having a hard time adjusting to being back in class for the Summer semester. As much as I appreciate that the courses are only eight weeks long, the three hour lectures twice a week are painful. I find that I just can’t keep interested after about two hours, and by the end of the second class, I’m totally done. By the time I get home around 8 PM, the absolute last thing I want to worry about is dinner. Luckily Ryan has stepped up to be in charge of dinner the nights I am at school; this is quite the role-reversal in our apartment as typically Ryan is the one taking evening classes while I am in charge of cooking most nights.
The only problem with this new setup is that he is lacking confidence in the kitchen. Where I’ve been cooking from a very young age, it’s only been within the past five years that Ryan has started cooking. Since I do the majority of the cooking, he doesn’t have many opportunities to build on his skills, but he is interested in learning. I try to have him help me in the kitchen as much as possible; unfortunately I am not a very good instructor when it comes to cooking. Up until I started this blog, I never used recipes. Ryan gets very frustrated with me while we’re cooking because he craves a set list of step-by-step instructions, and I usually just do things by feel. He has been experimenting with recipes out of beginner cookbooks and watching a lot of Food Network; my hope is that over the Summer he will be able to put all that information into action and become more comfortable in the kitchen. I don’t expect him to take over dinner duty once and for all, but it would be nice to have a night off cooking every once and a while.
However, I realize that going from never cooking to having to cook twice a week can be daunting, so I’ve enlisted the help of another cook, Chef CrockPot. To be honest, I am not as sold on the slow cooker as many other people are. The recipes I’ve tried tend to be hit or miss. I think part of the problem is that ours cooks hot so stuff gets burned or dried out pretty easily. This hasn’t stopped me from trying though; I have had so many friends and fellow bloggers sing the praises of the slow cooker that I am determined to love it! This recipe definitely moved me from the friend phase into a puppy love/high school crush stage of our relationship.
Despite the quick and easy prep, I made two mistakes while getting this recipe together. First, I put the meat directly into the sauce instead of coating it in cornstarch first. I’m thinking you could probably just pour the cornstarch in on top, but I wasn’t sure so I scooped it back out to coat it in the cornstarch. This made the prep work very messy. I do not like sticking my hands in sticky sauce to touch raw meat. There might have been cursing involved at this stage; luckily my pets won’t be in preschool telling all their friends and teachers what new words mommy taught them. The second mistake was much more serious; I forgot to turn the CrockPot on. I e-mailed Ryan specific instructions earlier in the day about when to check on dinner and turn off the CrockPot. Around 6 PM he texted me and said, “Did you ever turn the crock on because it is off now”. Oops. I was a little skeptical about having him cook it anyway because eating meat that’s been sitting in the CrockPot for about 4 hours at room temperature probably goes against every food safety rule out there, but I chanced it and told him to turn the pot to high. By the time I got home two hours later, it was perfectly done. (By the way, it’s the next day and neither of us has been sick so it must have been safe though it’s still not something I would recommend or plan on doing regularly.)
I didn’t deviate from the recipe with the exception of adding a thinly sliced green bell pepper during the last half hour or so of cooking. When I’ve had Mongolian Chicken in the past it always had bell pepper in it, plus I had one that needed to be used up. I liked the bit of crunch and extra veggies it added. This recipe didn’t really taste how I was expecting, but it was very good. The crushed red pepper flakes give it quite a kick which we loved. My only complaint, which isn’t specific to this recipe, is that all the Asian recipes I’ve made lately all taste very similar. That isn’t necessarily bad, but none of them really stands out as unique either. I’m not sure if it’s something I’m doing or just the recipes in general, but I have not been able to create the variety of flavors available at my favorite Chinese restaurant. I ate mine over stir-fried veggies and bean sprouts to keep the POINTS low, but it would have been delicious over rice as well. Even though this recipe will not replace takeout, it was very easy to put together and will definitely be made again!
CrockPot Mongolian Beef
1 pound lean beef, thinly sliced
¼ cup cornstarch
1 small onion, chopped
4 scallions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup sherry cooking wine
3 tablespoons brown sugar
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Pour cornstarch into zip-top bag. Add sliced beef, seal, and toss to combine.
Combine remaining ingredients in slow cooker.
Pour meat and cornstarch over sauce mixture, and toss gingerly to coat. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for about 2 hours. There isn’t a lot of liquid in this dish, so if your slow cooker tends to cook hot, please check it after 3 hours on low. The meat is done when it is no longer pink and has reached desired tenderness.
Source: A Year of CrockPotting (and I just realized, ironically, she posted this recipe one year ago today!)
4 servings | 6 POINTS