It's the dog days of summer and the temperature is rising. Around these parts that 90 degree heat comes with a good dose of humidity which makes cooking or spending time in a hot kitchen unbearable. While we could make salads and no-cook recipes all summer, why should we deprive ourselves of a decent hot meal when it's hot outside? And why should we stay out of the kitchen when it doesn't even need to be that hot in there in the first place?
Crockpot cooking on a hot summer day is a god-send. You prepare some already cold ingredients, add it to a cold Crockpot and let it cook while you enjoy a dip in a pool, window shopping in an air-conditioned mall or reading a book outside in the shade. The Crockpot is self-contained and doesn't emit any heat into the surrounding area. So unlike an oven or a stovetop, the Crockpot won't heat up your kitchen!
Last Sunday, while I was making Strawberry-Banana Pancakes, I made a Crockpot full of Hungarian Goulash. It cooked all day while Carlos and I were away having Engagement Photos taken and while we were visiting some potential wedding venues. Sunday was super hot (mid-90s, full sun, plenty of humidity) and when we came back home we we were suffering from heat exhaustion. While all this was happening the Goulash was cooking in the Crockpot and the kitchen was still cool. We went off for a swim in the local pool and the Crockpot kept the food warm even after the cooking time was up. When we came back, I cooked up a pot of egg noodles in no time and voila! dinner is served. And I barely had to break a sweat.
The recipe I made was a variation of the one from All Recipes.. Their version called for the thickening of the sauce with flour. I just didn't feel like it so I skipped it.
1/2 cup of ketchup
3-4 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp of brown sugar
2 tsps paprika (use Hungarian if you have it)
2 tsps of dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of water
2 packages of Stew Beef (not too lean - about 2 pounds)
1 chopped onion
In your Crockpot, add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, spices and water and stir. Add the chopped onions and Stew Beef (or Beef Chuck Roast cubed). Stir to coat the Beef in the onions and the liquid. Set Crockpot to cook for 8 hours.
Once the meal is ready, cook the egg noodles to package directions. Drain the noodles and add them to a serving platter. Top with the beef and onion and some of the juices. Top with chopped parsley. This is good with a small side of fresh salad. Enjoy!
If you want to thicken the sauce, add a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch to 1/4 cup of water. Stir until well mixed then add the mixture to the goulash. Cook on high in the Crockpot for 10-15 minutes.