How to make stew in a newer, small-ish sized crockpot

Or, if you live in our house, roast soup. (Kiddo is a bit of a drama queen… tell her she’s having stew and she’s likely to be unhappy and refuse to eat it… but she likes roast… so the same thing phrased as roast soup is somehow entirely different… gotta love kids..)

Let me begin by saying I hate my crockpot. Not crockpots in general… just mine.

The old crockpots were pretty much failproof. You dump something in, it cooks, come back whenever and its done.

Mine isn’t like that. It’s picky. Somewhere along the line, something changed in production somehow I assume.

Mine is a medium sized, 2 quart crockpot… which will completely torch anything you put in it. Literally, even roast in water will burn to the side of it anywhere it touches and take brillo to remove. Even on low. It burns even using those bags/liners… its just easier to remove.

UNLESS it’s almost entirely full. Only then will it work normal.

This does not work well at all for a lot of the chicken recipes that just involve dumping a small amount of something over the chicken… unless you multiply the recipe by 3 or 4 and have a ton of chicken to fill it up.

But it works even less with stew. Because, well, if it’s completely full at the start, you have no room for veggies. And if you put veggies in at the start, it will make them soggy and awful.

My mother’s old one from about the 80’s that was the same size wasn’t that way. You could dump something in with like a cup of water and it would be fine… and a lot of the recipes for crockpots online go along these lines. They wouldn’t come close to filling it entirely.

And it doesn’t seem to be as bad with the giant ones. But, um.. there’s only two of us… including a picky eater kiddo. We don’t need a 6 quart or bigger crockpot. We have three times as much as we eat at once even in a 2 quart.

But, well, it is what it is. So here’s how I work around this to actually make it work well and not turn things black and crunchy.

Add random lump of beef, whatever type (well, maybe except hamburger), frozen or not. Add in packet of beef stew seasoning… if you use onions, add them too if you like.. cover with water to about an inch or two from the top, turn it on low, and ignore it for the day.

Chop your veggies. Divide each type in half.

A few hours before dinner, remove your meat. Let it cool a bit to make it easier to chop as needed.

Find a large bowl. Remove water from the crockpot to make the water level about halfway, or a little less. I usually just use the ladle I will serve it with later… and since your water wasn’t all the way to the top anyway the “half” you remove will be smaller than the remaining half usually.

If you add any seasonings like brown gravy mix, you can either do it before separating the water, or do to each half separately.

Add half of carrots (and any other small but fresh veggies) to your crockpot, and the other half to the bowl.

Add potatoes… until your top layer of potatoes starts sticking out of the water (a bit above 3/4 of the way full) or until you’ve added the half.

Add anything canned on top of the potatoes, corn, green beans… anything like that. Then close and turn up on high to apologize for the fact that you’ve opened the lid, let out the heat, and replaced warm stuff with non-warm stuff.

Chop meat… add half to the bowl, and open lid briefly to add half to the very top of the pile of stuff in the crockpot. (It may or may not be out of the water until things break down a bit).

Ignore the whole thing for a while longer. Put potatoes into bowl if you have enough space in the bowl, then set bowl (and any remaining un-bowl-ed potato) in the fridge.. unless you’ve rather just freeze it in a bag to toss in by itself another day. I usually cook it before freezing it to make it easier to reheat and let the flavors mix a bit better, but either way works.

Go ahead and eat.. then move leftovers to a bowl if you have too much to just add the second half to it. If you need both halves at the same time, then dump the contents of the crockpot into a large bowl or pot, then add back in whatever you have space for, cook for an hour or so again, and then mix the warm and cold to serve.

However you’ve gotten the crockpot clear enough to have space, dump in the contents of your other bowl, followed by the potatoes even if they go above water level (even if you have more than half left, more may fit due to the water being less), then your canned stuff… cook for a while longer remembering that the veggie got a bit of a head start sitting in the hot water you removed.. and serve as second helpings, or freeze as leftovers, or whatever.

And that’s how you get around having a slowcooker that thinks its a deep fryer. lol

followed by realizing that you now have 4 quarts of beef stew… roughly enough to last you a full year, probably more.

Followed by wondering if the big 6 quart that works right isn’t that bad of an idea after all.

Followed by realizing that a 6 quart crockpot for a family of 2 is insane and unneeded, and its purchase only supports rival for making a crummy-working product even more than your original purchase of this less than wonderful version already did.

Followed by a venting blog about how much of a pain it is to use a crockpot that burns everything unless its entirely full… and a reminder to self to look for old fashioned crock pots in decent condition next summer at garage sales.


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