Posts Tagged 'stew'

Slow-Cooker Shiitake-Buffalo Stew

In the bottom of my pantry I have one and a half huge Costco bags of dried shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake, native to Korea, China and Japan, have been grown in all three countries since prehistoric times. They have been cultivated for over 1,000 years. They were believed to be medicinal, a remedy for upper respiratory diseases, poor blood circulation, liver trouble, exhaustion and weakness. Dried shiitake must be rehydrated by soaking in water before using. Many people prefer dried shiitake to fresh, considering that the sun-drying process brings out the umami flavor from the dried mushrooms.

History aside, I find shiitake mushrooms to be quite versatile, throwing a handful into various dishes to increase their “meatiness” without increasing fat. They have a nice, chewy texture and flavor that adds substance to a dish.  But one and a half very big bags is simply too much! I need to reduce their bulk by using a large number at once. And that’s when I discovered recipes on the back of the bags.

Beside switching from beef to buffalo to lower fat, I varied the recipe a bit to match up with things I had in the house. It was too snowy to go out to get new ingredients. So for the new potatoes, I used a pound of cut up regular potatoes, and for the recommended canned whole tomatoes I used diced, because that is what I had in the pantry.

This recipe is super easy – everything goes in the slow cooker and then you come home to a great dinner.

The flour in the recipe means you have a good, thick gravy at the end. It also reheated well, with a little water added, so it made good leftovers the next day. It was a perfect winter dish when the temperatures were hovering in the 20’s and I wanted something warm and filling.

Slow-Cooker Shiitake-Buffalo Stew

3 cups dried, sliced shiitake mushrooms
12 new potatoes cut into quarters, or 1 lb. regular potatoes cut in 2 inch chunks
½ cup coarsely chopped onion
8 oz baby carrots
14½  oz can chopped tomatoes, undrained
14½ oz can beef broth
½ cup flour
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 lb buffalo, cut in 2 inch cubes (I used buffalo chuck roast, but any roast would do)

In a medium bowl, cover the shiitake mushroom with water and soak for at least 15 minutes. Drain shiitake mushrooms. Combine mushrooms and all ingredients except buffalo in a slow-cooker. Stir a bit to mix the flour in. Add buffalo.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (mine slow-cooker runs hot, so 7 hours was enough). Makes 4 hearty servings at about 2.5 grams of fat/serving.


Pumpkin, Pork, and Apple Cider Stew

The air has turned decidedly nippy, and there was snow on the ground this morning. Time to whine about unseasonable weather (when is it ever seasonable?)

This dish is quite seasonable and captures the essence of autumn – pumpkin, apples, cider – even pork seems like an autumnal selection. The original recipe, from Relish Magazine,  used Boston butt, a cut of pork that is rather fatty. Now I have been wanting to make a dish out of Boston butt (which is not the butt at all, but the upper part of the shoulder of the pig) in honor of the loss of my quite prodigious butt, but doing so would probably add to my butt, so I used pork tenderloin, my preferred cut of the pig. And by the way, it’s not as if the good people of Boston don’t know a shoulder from a butt. The name came about apparently because in pre-Revolutionary New England, less favored cuts of pork were packed into casks or barrels (also known as “butts”) for storage and shipment.

The original recipe also called for using cut up pumpkin or butternut squash, but suggested that if these were unavailable, a can of pumpkin would do. I liked the idea of a thick, rich pumpkin-y gravy, and it turned out well. It also reheats well, too, although I’ve had to add water to it when reheating..

Pumpkin, Pork and Apple Cider Stew

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds (see hint)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 pounds of pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 medium onions, sliced

2¾ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided

1½ cups apple cider

¼ cup cider vinegar

1 cup carrots, cut into chunks (about 2 carrots)

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

6 cups red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 pounds) (I left mine unpeeled)

1¼ cups Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cut into wedges (2 apples)

Place flour, fennel seeds, salt, pepper and pork in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal bag and shake to coat pork. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven or other large heavy-bottomed pot. Add half the pork and the onions. Cook until pork is browned. Remove from pan. Heat remaining oil in pan. Add remaining pork, and cook until browned. Return cooked pork to pan and add 2 cups of the broth, cider and cider vinegar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour.

Add pumpkin, carrots and potatoes. Return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, since the canned pumpkin tends to make the mixture stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add apples. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. If sauce is too thick, add remaining 3/4 cup chicken broth. I needed to do this since the pumpkin is a good thickener. Makes 8 large servings at 6 grams of fat/serving.

Hint. It’s easy to crush fennel or other seeds in a mortar and pestle if you mix them with the salt before crushing them.

Chicken and Dumplings

It is still “unseasonably,” or perhaps unreasonably, cold.  It was 8 degrees last night, weather not fit for woman or beast.  Even the dogs are starting to complain, although not as vociferously as when there was 6 feet of snow and they couldn’t go outside for, as we used to call it “nature”.

So, more comfort food for dinner.  I have never made chicken and dumplings, but they sounded good…and I had aging veggies to use up.  I doctored this recipe from Cooking Light a bit.  The original called for 8 ounces of chicken thighs, but there were none in the freezer, and for fresh parsley – which I wasn’t willing to venture out into the cold to purchase.

Chicken and Dumplings

Cooking spray
2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1  cup  (1/4-inch) diagonally cut celery
1/2  cup  (1/4-inch) diagonally cut carrot
1/2  cup  chopped onion
1/8  teaspoon  dried thyme (I used a large pinch of each of the herbs)
1/8 teaspoon dried savory
1/8 teaspoon dried chervil
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1  bay leaf
3  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

½ cup  all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon  dried parsley
1/4  teaspoon  baking powder
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/4  cup  fat-free milk

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook about 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add next 8 ingredients (celery through bay leaf) to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Return chicken to pan; cook 1 minute. Add broth to pan; bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

To make the dumplings, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, parsley, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk, stirring just until moist. Spoon by heaping teaspoonfuls into broth mixture; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until dumplings are done. Discard bay leaf.  This makes 2 tummy-warming servings at about 5 grams of fat/serving.


COMMENT:  This was very tasty, but I expected the gravy to be thicker.  I think the next time I make this I will thicken the sauce a bit with cornstarch before I add the dumplings.  I also might double the amount of dumplings, since they seemed skimpy. I’d like to make it next time with the chicken thighs, since I think they would have a richer flavor and the same amount of fat.

Cuban Pork and Plantain Stew

Okay, the cookie baking is over for a while. Platters went to the office and to my neighbor’s Christmas dinner. The remaining few are carefully closeted in the freezer, where their plaintive cries to be eaten are muffled.  I’ll take them out gradually, one by one, as late night snacks.

Now it’s time to turn to hearty dishes to help warm the winter night.  Yes, it’s still snowing. 63 inches and counting.  I need something to warm the cockles of my heart, and this somewhat unusual dish does the trick. It has a little peppery heat to it.  This is definitely something I will make again.

It began when I bought two plantains.  I love the plantains that you get at some Latin American restaurants, sweet and gently fried.  But apparently these are made from plantains that are soft and black.  Not knowing much about plantains, I passed over the black ones thinking they were past their prime, and bought two large green plantains.  When I began researching plantain recipes, it turned out that my sweet plantains were not to be, unless I was willing to wait weeks until they turned black.  I’m not all that patient.  I did let the one of the very green plantains turn yellow with black splotches.  I found that the very green plantain was hard to peel, and remained rather hard after cooking (although longer cooking might have softened them). So this recipe calls for yellow plantains with brown spots, which will stay firm, but not too hard during cooking.

The original recipe for this used chicken breasts, which would make it about one gram lower in fat/serving.  However, I thought the pork was a more traditional Cuban ingredient, and I have quite a bit of pork tenderloin to use up.

Cuban Pork and Plantain Stew

1 Tablespoon  canola oil
3/4 pound  pork tenderloin, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup  coarsely chopped onion
1/2 cup  coarsely chopped red bell pepper
1 1/2 cups  coarsely chopped plum tomato
1 cup  dry sherry
1 ½  teaspoons  paprika
1 teaspoon  ground cumin
1 teaspoon  dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon  salt
1/4 teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14 -ounce) can low-salt beef broth
2 cups  sliced (about ½ inch slices) plantains (about 3/4 pound)
2 Tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pan over medium-high heat. Add pork, onion, and bell pepper; sauté for 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions soften. Stir in tomato and next 8 ingredients (tomato through broth). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in plantains; cook 15 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle with parsley if using.  This makes 4 servings at 7 grams of fat/serving.  I expect that this would be great over rice, and with Cuban black beans, but I have been eating it in a bowl like a hot soup. And it definitely warms the cockles of my heart.


Variation: If you like spicy food, this could take a bit more pepper, or you might even add a minced jalapeno pepper.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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