Crockpot Bison Stew

Do you ever wish you could come home after a long day and dinner would magically appear and be waiting for you? Let’s make that dream a reality. Introducing…the slow cooker. I grew up with a CrockPot, so that is how I’ll reference it, but the idea is the same. Prepare ingredients beforehand, set it before you go to work, and come home to magic, without risk of burning your house down. I feel like many people associate slow cooker meals with winter, but I find mine most useful in the summer when my non-air conditioned kitchen is already sweltering in the sub-tropical Japanese summer.

Yesterday I wrote about sustainable meat choices. I am not a huge red meat eater, but I’ve found that if bison is in the equation, I’ll go back for seconds (or thirds!). I threw together this dish one morning before I dashed off for presentations and school speeches. My mom was at home so she was able to monitor the meat, but if you are making this recipe for the first time (or any CrockPot recipe), I recommend doing it on a day when you are home to check on it. Each slow cooker cooks differently, so it is good to get a time frame for your machine before you leave it alone all day while you’re off at work or running errands. After the first time, though, you will have a practically fool-proof way to set your self up for a healthy and frankly flippin’ delicious dinner.

The great thing about CrockPot recipes is that they can feed a crowd or keep well for leftovers. In fact, most things made in a CrockPot (can I abbreviate this somehow? CP??) taste better the next day. It’s also much harder to overcook, burn, or dry out meat in a slow cooker – great for those of you still gaining confidence in the kitchen.

My younger brothers both loved this dish – my twenty-year old brother gobbled about half of it and my ten-year old brother also really enjoyed it even though he doesn’t usually care much for meat. By the time I got home, the only thing that was left was this small serving, which is why I don’t have a picture of the whole dish. But this was such a hit that I’m sure we’ll be making it again, so I’ll have a chance to update the picture. This is best served with a hearty dose of mashed butternut squash or sweet potato, outdoors on your patio during a summer day. At least that is what I did.

Crockpot Bison Stew

Inspired by two dishes from the Civilized Caveman, found here and here.

A note about the onions. I just used up what I had found in my family’s pantry. If you don’t have pearl onions or shallots, just add another regular onion or whatever pleases you.

20 pearl onions

3 onions

1 shallot

5 medium carrots, sliced in half moons

4 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch dice

1 1/2 large zucchini, sliced in half moons

5 garlic cloves, peeled

2 bay leaves

2 tsp Herbamare salt, divided

1 tsp thyme, divided

1/2 c chicken broth, optional

one 2 lb bison roast

Layer the onions, carrots, celery, and zucchini in the bottom of your Slow Cooker. Season with 1 tsp of Herbamare and 1/2 tsp of thyme. Add garlic cloves and bay leaves, then place the bison roast on top of everything. Season roast well with the other half of the salt and remaining thyme. Add chicken broth if you would like more of a stew, or leave it out for a more traditional roast.

Cook on low heat for 6 – 8 hours. We checked our roast after 6 hours and it was cooked through and pretty much melted into shreds when prodded with a fork. If the roast hasn’t reached that consistency after 6 hours, continue to cook until it shreds easily. You won’t have to worry about checking to see if it is done in the middle because there won’t be a middle anymore!

Feeds one hungry young man + 3 people with smaller to normal appetites. In regular serving sizes I would guess that to be sufficient for 6 people, especially if you serve with some sort of mashed squash.

Man. I just ate dinner, and I still really want to eat this. Happy crocking!

Everything IS easy when you’ve got a slow cooker!