Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Crock Pot Wednesday: Hamburger Stew (Another great freezer entree to start with!)

On Wednesdays, I like to have something in the crock pot for lunch. We have cottage classes here, teaching over fifty homeschooled students once-a-week classes, such as writing, English, biology, economics, and more. It is tons of fun--but a super busy day, so I put a stew or soup together in the crock pot that my co-teachers (first two sons, Joshua {30} and Jonathan {20}) and Jakie (our only homeschooled student now :(   ) can eat whenever they get a break.

This week's crock pot entree is Hamburger Stew. I originally got this recipe over twenty years ago when I began freezer cooking. It fit the bill perfectly then when hamburger and shredded-off-the-bone chicken were our main meats--and almost always used IN recipes to stretch them further (as opposed to chicken pieces or hamburger patties).

 It can be assembled then frozen before cooking (though the ingredients are all precooked). Then I can get it out of the freezer, defrost it, and either put it in the crock pot or oven. I no longer make it as a freezer entree because I have found that if I have precooked hamburger in the freezer, this stew comes together so quickly that I don't need to even take up freezer space freezing it already assembled. However, if you are new to freezer cooking and looking for some satisfying, one dish entrees to start with (that are simple), this is definitely one to begin with.

Note: It is a tomato-based stew as opposed to many beef stew recipes that are gravy-based. It does have a lot of beefy flavor (not tomato-y like a red sauce or something), but the tomato sauce makes it a completely different stew than our beef stew recipe. Also, I use small vegetables in this. I like smaller veggies with the hamburger but larger, chunkier veggies with stew beef. Just be sure if you use some larger and some smaller that they are fully cooked before assembling; otherwise, the vegetables will get done cooking at different times.

Hamburger Stew

5 to 6 lbs. raw ground turkey or hambuger (16 to 18 cups cooked and drained)
3 cans tomato sauce (15 oz)
3 cans mushroom soup or golden mushroom soup (You may make your own or make a beef gravy for this.)
7 cups beef broth
1 ½ cups milk (or cream or half and half)
6 cups cubed hashbrowns (or 3 cans potatoes)
6 lbs frozen mixed vegetables
6 TBSP minced onions
1/2 to 1 tsp garlic powder (I use a garlic-herb mixture and put more than this calls for)
6 bay leaves
Extra beef base or powdered brown gravy mix, if desired

  1. Precook any fresh veggies that you substituted for the frozen (i.e. carrots, green beans, potatoes, etc.)---only if using substitutions.
  2. Brown meat and drain.
  3. Mix all other ingredients together. (If mixture seems especially tomato-y or thin, I will stir in a little brown gravy mix.)
  4. Place heaping amounts of stew in 3 (9 x 13) foil pans (deep ones or two shallow ones; or one gallon freezer bags if planning to cook on the stove top or in the crock pot).
  5. Freeze and label:
Hamburger Stew              Serves 10-12+
Thaw. Bake covered at 350’ for 45 – 60 minutes.
  1. May also place in freezer bags and label, then place in casserole dishes at baking time (or cook in crock pot).
  2. May also simmer on stove top for under an hour on medium, stirring frequently.
+Each recipe (this makes it three times) serves ten to twelve people.

Note: This recipe can be made more homemade (make own soup, use real potatoes that you cube and precook), etc. or less homemade (use all canned products), according to your time schedule and family's eating. 


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