Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Rival Crock Pot Cooking" (Beef Tacos with Mexican Sauce) and "Culinary Arts Institute Crockery Cooking" (Spanish Rice) - Super Bowl 50!

Date I made these recipes:  February 7, 2016 – Super Bowl Sunday

Rival® Crock Pot Cooking
Published by:  Golden Press
© 1975
Purchased at Goodwill
Recipe:  Beef Tacos with Mexican Sauce – p. 45

Culinary Arts Institute Crockery Cooking (part of Adventures in Cooking Series)
Published by the Culinary Arts Institute
© 1976
Recipe:  Spanish Rice – p. 38

There is no perfect time to pull out a crock pot or two than during the Super Bowl because between the commercials and the pre-game and the game itself, who has time to prepare a meal the old-fashioned way?  Not me (even though I have a TV in my kitchen).  Besides, it's still winter out and that is a crock pot's moment to shine. 

Finding the right recipe combination is also essential to game-time and crock pot enjoyment.  Think Goldilocks:  not too basic, not too fancy, just right.

And this is how I ended up reviewing endless recipes for things like frank and beans, brats and beans, beans, hamburger and beans, hamburgers in the crock pot, chili verde, chile with meat, chili with beans, killer chili, hot dips and even mac and cheese.  I mean, there's no rule that says Super Bowl food has to be selected from one of these recipes groupings, but that tends to be the type of food people crave and I am all about giving the people what they want.

And by "people," I mean me and my husband.  I can count on one hand the number of times that I've watched a Packers game with friends (it's best if they don't see me go all full metal jacket during a Packers game) and by the time we get to Super Bowl Sunday each year, the thrill of football is (nearly) gone and I just want to hang out, be free without having to entertain.

Besides, as it happened, we went out for dinner with my mother-in-law for her belated birthday celebration and so making something in the crock pot to be eaten later was just the thing.  As it turned out, we almost ended up back at our house to eat as several of the restaurants she wanted to dine at were closed for the Super Bowl.  At zero hour, we found a place that suited and we got home just in time to see the half time show, our trusty crock pots nearly done slow-cooking our second dinner for the day.  Okay, true confessions:  we had it the next day.

The crock pot came into existence in 1970 and I don't think popularity for this wonder cooker has ever waned.  Every year, more and more crock pot (or slow cooker) books, like the ones I used hit the market, and new and improved recipes for everything under the sun keep popping up all the time.  The few crock pot cookbooks I own are not fancy-shcmancy but they do the job.

One crock pot cookbook (more like a booklet) that I used to death is the one that came with my Hamilton Beach crockpot which I purchased circa 1978 or so while I was in college.  My three other roommates and I, all college juniors and seniors, had a very busy schedule and so we took turns plugging in the crock pot so we'd have dinner ready after work or after class.  To this day, the beef dishes from this booklet, especially the beef in wine, are some of the best dishes I've ever made. (Can you go wrong adding wine to a dish?  No.)  These two dishes were good but not without some problems that I will address momentito.

As between the two books, the Rival cookbook had more recipes geared for the "common" man and I selected a lot more potential recipes from this book than the one from the Culinary Institute.  Some of the recipe names grabbed my attention until I looked at the ingredient list, for example:  "Bologna-Baga Bake" that contained bologna and rutabaga (ew) p. 64 or "The Babysitter's Favorite" – p. 65 that would not have been my favorite under any circumstances as it contained frankfurters, apples, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.  Are they kidding?  What teenage gal or guy wants that kind of food to eat while watching a bunch of kids?

On the other hand, "Camp-Out Chili Dogs" – p. 65 – sounded delicious and definitely Super Bowl-worthy.  There were a bunch of casserole recipes that sounded good but not for a football celebration.  The last chapter of this book was dedicated to breads and cakes and again, sounded good but not for tonight's repast.

And then there's the Culinary Arts Institute cookbook and I have to say that never, ever associated the term "crock pot" with a culinary arts school.  (Do note that the Culinary Arts Institute is not the same as the famed CIA – Culinary Institute of America® – but the model is somewhat the same).  This cookbook took more of an around-the-world approach, showcasing dishes from other countries such as "Bouillabaisse" – p. 70 or "Solianka" from the (former) Soviet Union – p. 54.  And while a lot of them sounded tasty, I had to work hard to find something to fit my football dinner theme and finally decided on the Spanish Rice recipe – p. 38.  It paired very well with my Beef Tacos with Mexican Sauce and since I have two crock pots, I put them both to work to make this dish.

Because it needed a longer cooking time, I started the taco recipe earlier in the day and then refrigerated it until serving time.  My only complaint, and it could be my palate, was that I thought the dish was a little salty and I even used "No Salt Added" pinto beans.  I also made half the recipe and kept a close eye on the cooking time because I was worried I might burn it if I left it in for the required 8 to 10 hours (full recipe).  I think I pulled the plug after 6 hours and it was fine.  In fact, I'm not even sure why this dish needed to be made in a crock pot but mine was not to wonder why.

The Spanish Rice dish cooked for a shorter time (4-6 hours) but folks, for the first time ever, ever, ever, the rice did not cook.  I don't know why that is but I wonder if it didn't need more liquid to fully develop as the recipe is heavy on meat, tomatoes and tomato paste but not really on water.  Since the rice in the crock pot didn't cook, I made a batch in my rice cooker and it came out great but then again, the water ratio was dead on accurate.  And so if you decide to make this at home, add maybe ¼ cup of water and see how that works.  Aside from the fact that our Spanish Rice had a crunch to it, it was a pretty good recipe.

Oh—and the game?  Broncos 24, Panthers 10.  And by the way, I read that the NFL will return to Roman numerals next year and sweet merciful heavens, as if I don't have enough fun "translating" all the copyrights listed in Roman numerals in my older cookbooks, now I have to figure this out?  Next thing you know, we'll have to do the same with the score:  So let's see, the Broncos had 24 so that's XXIV and the Panthers had 10 so that's X and so then add the two, carry the two, divide by two and you get...liftoff?


Beef Tacos with Mexican Sauce – makes about 2 ½ quarters, enough to fill 2 to 3 dozen taco shells
Taco Filling
2 lb. lean ground beef
2 medium onions
1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon leaf oregano (Ann's Note:  I used Mexican oregano)
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup taco sauce (Ann's Note:  since I halved the recipe, I only needed 1/6 cup and that was not enough to justify buying a bottle of sauce so I used water.  We are not regular taco eaters in this house.)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 can (16 oz) pinto beans or green peas, drained and pureed in blender
Taco Shells
Mexican Sauce
Mexican Sauce
2 cups chopped peeled tomatoes or 1 can (16 oz.) whole tomatoes
1 small onion, quartered
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon leaf oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 small jalapeno pepper, fresh or canned (optional)

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and onions; drain well.  Place beef and onions in Crock Pot.  Stir in remaining ingredients except taco shells and Mexican Sauce.  Cover and cook on Low setting for 8 to 10 hours.  Ann's Note:  since I made half the recipe, I cut the time down to 6 hours for fear of burning the mixture.  It's pretty much ready to go as soon as you mix all the ingredients but this is just a slow way to warm it up.  Taste for seasoning.  Fill taco shells and serve with sauce. 

Spanish Rice – 8 to 10 servings.  Ann's Note:   Be warned, the halved recipe still made a lot of Spanish rice.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 green peppers, cleaned and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 pounds ground round steak or chuck
2 cans (28 ounces each) Italian-style tomatoes (undrained)
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 dash Tabasco (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
Few grains cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
2 or 3 whole cloves
2 cups uncooked long grain rice (Ann's Note:  As stated above, the rice failed to cook at all and I have no idea why this happened.  To be on the safe side, make the rice separately and add it to the ground beef mixture when ready to serve.)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add onions, green pepper, and garlic; cook over medium heat until tender and lightly browned.  Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon to an electric cooker.

Add meat to oil remaining in skillet.  Cook over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.  Add to cooker with tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt, pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper, bay leaf, cloves, and rice; stir thoroughly to blend well.

Cover and cook on Low 4 to 6 hours.

No comments: