Monday, October 17, 2011

Slow Cooker Mushroom Swiss Steak and Gravy

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? – April 28, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published by Betty Crocker via e-mail on Sunday, April 24, 2011.

Maybe it’s time I tell everyone how I come up with blog posts and dishes. 

I have literally thousands of recipes to choose from.  I try to pick recipes from the most current magazines I have and then will dig through my recipe archives if I can’t find anything that tickles my fancy.  Honestly, I go a lot by what sounds good to me at the moment I’m creating my menu for the week.  I’ve tried to keep track of everything I’ve made recently, but that just adds a lot of time to the process… time I’d rather spend writing and cooking.

When I cook, I follow my rules: clean my cabinets, empty the sink, pull out the ingredients and equipment.  Then I take pictures of everything (and now take pictures of all the nutritional information labels as well) and write down any changes to ingredients and any supplemental equipment I need (or feel I need) for the recipe.  Finally, I break down the recipe on a marker board so I can take notes and pictures while I’m cooking.  When I’m all done, I take pictures of the finished product, write down all of the notes from the marker board and make detailed notes about the mess I’ve created, taste of the dish and what I would change, if anything.

The reason I felt the need to point this out to all of you is because I realized I’ve made this particular dish, I don’t know, probably 5 or 6 times this year.  It is from different sources and the recipes all have their own little tweak, but the Swiss steak / beef stew / creamy beef and noodles seems to be ever present in my cooking rotation.  I sat down and really thought about why and it is probably for the following reasons:
  • Slow cooking rules… minimal cooking and perfectly cooked beef.
  • Tomatoes and mushrooms are abundant in these recipes and this girl LOVES her tomatoes and mushrooms.
  • I can serve it with noodles or potatoes to mix up the leftovers.

I guess it just looks tasty and I get drawn to the stewed beef like a bug to a light.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Slow Cooker Mushroom Swiss Steak and Gravy
I’m torn by my finished product.  On one hand, it is so gravy-licious and you can tell the meat is perfectly cooked (meaning falling apart) but is also looks very messy and like it is missing something.  Of course it is – egg noodles.  One day I will learn to compare the picture with the recipe to the ingredient listing.

© Betty Crocker
The steak is still in one piece?  How is that possible?  The meat becomes so tender that it shreds as you try to take it out.  And I’ll point it out again… it is served over noodles.  If you read all of the notes in the recipe, it comes out as a suggestion, but certainly isn’t in the ingredients.  Recipe writers please take note: If it needs to be served over something, list it in the ingredients and give alternatives as suggestions.  Also, it appears to be garnished with something – maybe chives or parsley?  Overall, my dish doesn’t look as boring as their dish does.
for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – And this EH is just barely there.  I had to chop onions and carrots, but I bought the steak pre-cut.  There was very little equipment involved and all of the cooking was contained in the slow cooker, so less opportunity for drips and spills.

Start-to-Finish Time: AROUND EIGHT HOURS AND 30 MINUTES – It’s a slow cooker recipe!  Of course it’s going to take this long.  Only 30 minutes of it is hands-on, so don’t panic.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – I hate peeling carrots almost as much as I hate peeling potatoes.  At least carrots are a lot easier to hold on to while peeling.  I have very few incidences of carrots shooting out of my hands and into my garbage.  Other than the carrots, just coarse chop some onions and you’re good to go.  Remember, if you don’t buy pre-cut meat, you’ll have to add that to the mix, but it is pretty easy to do.  Bonus: I didn't peel my knuckles AT ALL this time.  That has got to be a record of some sort.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – Other than the chopping, you just dump it into the slow cooker and take a nap if you want.

OverallYUMMY – As I said before, I’ve got about a million recipes just like this one, so I’m not compelled to make it again.  It definitely needed the egg noodles (which I cooked for the leftovers), but it was still tasty and easy.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes

You definitely will get six servings out of this dish, but you’re going to need noodles to serve with it.  Also, a small side dish like a salad or green vegetable (I was thinking green beans when I made it) would work well.  Of course, don’t forget the crusty bread to sop up the extra gravy.

The timing was pretty close to what I got, but I found it very tedious getting the vegetables out of the gravy so it took me a little longer.  Here is how my timing came out:
  • Prep Time: 9 minutes
  • Assemble: 4 minutes
  • Cook: 8 hours
  • Finish: 6 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours 19 minutes
Nutritional Information
  • Calories 230
  • Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 3.5g)
  • Cholesterol 70mg
  • Sodium 670mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 12g
  • Fiber 2g
  • Sugar 5g
  • Protein 25g
The second I looked at this information, I knew it was for the meat and gravy only and it couldn’t possibly include the egg noodles.  So I did what I always do and ran the numbers (for the regular check) and added a serving of noodles determined by the serving size on the noodle package.  Here are the differences:
  • Calories 376.9
  • Total Fat 9.5g (Saturated Fat 2.9g)
  • Cholesterol 104.1mg
  • Sodium 699.8mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 38.5g
  • Fiber 3.3g
  • Sugar 3.9g
  • Protein 33.5g
Obviously the calorie and carbohydrates increase, but I was a little surprised by the cholesterol and sodium jump. 

Now, I served mine only as the meat and gravy the first time since I didn't have egg noodles to serve with it.  Therefore, when I calculated my changes, I took that into account.  My biggest challenge was to lower the sodium and the mushrooms and tomato sauce are the biggest offenders.  At this point in my blogging career, I hadn’t kept track of all the nutritional information for the ingredients, so I don’t have any details.  However, past experience tells me that it could be lowered by about 30% with the no salt added mushrooms and tomatoes that I used.

The other good news is that this recipe is a good supplier of the following:
  • Vitamin A – vital to vision and cellular growth
  • B-12 – required for metabolism, the formation of red blood cells and maintenance of the central nervous system
  • Selenium – needed for normal growth and health. Selenium is needed for certain enzymes that help with normal body functions

Changes denoted by red text
© You Want Me to Cook?
Slow Cooker Mushroom Swiss Steak and Gravy - ingredients
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 medium carrots, sliced (1 cup)
1 can (4 oz) mushroom pieces and stems – no salt added, drained
1 1/2 lb boneless beef round steak, cut into serving-size pieces
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can (18 oz) Progresso® Vegetable Classics creamy mushroom soup
1 can (8 oz) 100% natural – tomato sauce
Cooking Spray

Ingredient Notes:
Mushrooms – Obviously, Betty Crocker said to use Green Giant mushrooms (guess who owns Green Giant)… and I would have, but I found a store brand that had a “no salt added” option which also happened to be cheaper.  Sorry Green Giant, I couldn’t resist that.

Beef Round Steak – I couldn’t find a beef round steak or anything similar, so I asked the butcher for help.  She pointed me to the pepper steak cut after I explained to her what I was going to be using it for.  The cut was probably a little thin, but it still cooked up great (especially as a gravy meat) and I didn’t have to cut it.

Tomato Sauce – I couldn’t find a no salt option, but I did find a 100% natural sauce that had about half the sodium content.  Works out well for me!

Cooking Spray – I’ve found that spraying the slow cooker with cooking spray makes a huge difference in cleaning.  So I added it to the ingredients list AND put it in the directions.

Equipment Needed:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Slow Cooker Mushroom Swiss Steak and Gravy - equipment
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Vegetable peeler
Raw meat cutting board
Sharp knife
Medium bowl
Spoon – mixing
3- to 4-quart slow cooker
Slotted spoon

Equipment Notes:
Raw Meat Cutting Board and Knife – You’ll only need this if you have to cut the raw meat.  Plastic is your best option, but you can also use a glass cutting board if that’s all you’ve got.  Whatever you do, don’t cut raw meat on wood.  It can seep into the wood and contaminate the entire board remaining even after washing.  You don’t need a separate knife if you cut the vegetables first, but I like to use two separate ones so I don’t mix them up.

Whisk – the recipe called for a wire whisk, but all I have is a plastic one and it worked just fine.

(1)   Coat a 3- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.  Then, layer onion, carrots, mushrooms and beef.

(2)  Sprinkle pepper over beef.

(3)  In medium bowl, mix soup and tomato sauce; pour over beef.

(4)  Cover; cook on Low heat setting 8 to 10 hours.

Since I used a thin slice of beef, I kept the cooking time to 8 hours.  If you’re using something a little chunkier, it may take longer.

(5)  Place beef on serving platter.  With slotted spoon, remove vegetables from cooker and spoon over beef.

The vegetable removal was a gigantic pain in the butt.  Don’t worry about getting every last one out of there.  You just need to be able to whisk the gravy.

(6)  Stir gravy in cooker with wire whisk to blend. Serve gravy with beef.

There isn’t much I’d change about this dish.  It’s got all of my favorite components – mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, steak.  While the beef and gravy were definitely good, it absolutely needed the egg noodles to round out the dish.  Betty Crocker suggested mashed potatoes too… which is very intriguing to me, especially since it’s getting colder outside and I love potatoes.

Who knows, maybe I will make this one again!

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