There weren't a lot of family vacations when I was a kid. My dad's busiest season at work was summer -- the same time my brother and I were sprung from school and up for traveling with Mom.
But I have my dad in my vacation memories anyway thanks to the big pot of stew waiting in the Crock-Pot for a big family meal when we pulled into the driveway after hours on the road from Cape Cod to Upstate New York. The waiting table and the scent of marinating beef meant we were home.
It was the sort of meal he could set up first thing in the morning and leave to cook until we got in, without having to second guess how traffic would affect our arrival. And it didn't matter whether work was going well or not -- a cheap cut of meat would melt on the tongue after hours marinating in red wine and broth.
And before you sigh and say, "Oh yeah, another beef stew recipe," I promise there's a kicker that our German heritage ensures makes this a bit out of the ordinary. So pull out the Crock-Pot:
2 pounds rump or chuck roast, cubed small
6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 can beef broth
1 pound sliced mushrooms (cleaned)
4 tablespoons sweet basil
4 tablespoons parsley
Ground pepper to taste
Red wine to cover
1 pound box macaroni (or other favorite noodle shape)
Fill Crock-Pot with meat, garlic, onions, broth, mushrooms, basil, parsley, and pepper, saving the red wine for last -- you'll want just enough to cover everything that's in there. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours -- or until meat starts breaking down.
When you're getting near meal time, boil macaroni to al dente. Fill a frying pan with butter. When it's sizzling, dump in macaroni and fry until they're a crispy golden brown.
Serve macaroni on plates with the stew ladled on top. The resulting mix of crispy noodles and soft meat makes the meal.
What's your favorite Crock-Pot memory?
Image via MoToMo/Flickr