Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Crock Pot Italian-Style Beef with Cheesy Polenta

I adore this dinner. Simple, slow-cooked, tangy, and cheesy.

These are adjectives to live by! 

Are you, like me, a fool who forgets all about her beloved Crock Pot in the summer? Why do we neglect the one device in our kitchen that cooks our food entirely without an oven?! Well today, we are fixing this problem. 

This Crock Pot Italian-Style Beef with Cheesy Polenta is familiar yet intriguing. Comforting Italian flavors like oregano, parsley, and tangy crushed tomatoes meet boneless chuck steak, make a wonderfully rich ragu as they simmer away while we are at work, THEN get piled high atop a polenta packed with garlic, mozzarella cheese and cracked black pepper. What's not to love?

Oh, I nearly forgot, if you--this time, unlike me--are handy with your summer garden and find it overflooowing with fresh basil, please please PLEASE tear up a bunch and throw it on top. Please? Thank you. 

So, here's how this all goes down:

The night before your delicious dinner: Set out your Crock Pot/slow cooker, the exact spices you need, a can of tomatoes, and honey so you don't have to fumble in the pantry early in the morning. Chop an onion and a clove or two of garlic, then stick them in the fridge in a zip top baggie.
The morning of: Dump onion, garlic, tomatoes, spices, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of your slow cooker. Whisk until combined, then nestle in the steak. Turn on low, go live your life for 8 hours.
Just before dinner: Prepare the most delicious, creamy polenta known to man. Shred up your beef. EAT! 

It's meals like this that remind me why I l.o.v.e. food! Let's eat.

Here's what you need for Crock Pot Italian-Style Beef with Cheese Polenta* (Print Recipe!)

for the beef
1 onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds boneless chuck steak 
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil and grated parmesan for serving

for the polenta
3 tablespoons butter
1 gloves garlic
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup polenta
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and lots of black pepper to taste

Here's what you do

for the beef: Whisk together the onions, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, honey, and spices in the bowl of a slow cooker. Place the beef in the sauce, being sure to cover completely. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred beef with two forks. Keep warm until ready to serve. 

for the polenta: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Pour in the water and milk and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta and parmesan cheese then reduce heat to low and stir in salt and pepper. Simmer until thickened and polenta is cooked through. Whisk in the mozzarella until melted and combined, then adjust seasonings to taste. 

to serve: Scoop polenta into a big bowl then top with shredded beef and extra sauce from the pot. Garnish with basil and parmesan cheese. Enjoy with a light salad. The beef would also be great over pasta or on a sandwich! 

*Beef recipe adapted from the Crock Pot website

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