Meatball Stew

CrockPot Gourmet for the Frantic Chef #1

Start by gathering your ingredients. I used a 7-quart Crock Pot for this recipe, but this is a very easy "recipe" to cut down to fit whatever size Crock Pot you have! Your dish should be about 2/3 to 3/4 full when you're finished, for optimum cooking efficiency.

First, I dump about 1 1/2 pounds of carrots and a 1-pound bag of frozen (fully-cooked) meatballs into the bottom of the pot. (Any variety of meatballs works for this. I usually use turkey meatballs, because those are my favorite.)

Then, I add about a pound of frozen french fries (the thicker-cut the better)... and yes, you can cut up real potatoes to use instead, but I often use french fries, because it's less chopping and cutting (which means less total prep time) for me.

Speaking of cutting and chopping, that brings me to my next step: cut into large chunks (1 to 1 1/2 inches): 1 onion, 2 bunches celery and 1 green bell pepper. Or, you can use 2 onions, 2 peppers and only 1 bunch of celery... or no onions, 3 peppers, 1 1/2 bunches of celery... You get the point, I hope. This recipe is totally flexible. You can adjust it to fit your personal tastes! (It goes without saying, but maybe I should point out that the carrots and potatoes can also be substituted or omitted. Feel free to use sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips or any other veggies you like in your stew! I usually use whatever veggies are on sale in any given week.)

Your Crock Pot should be about 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Add 6-8 bouillon cubes and sprinkle in 3 Tbsp corn starch.

Add 8 cups of cold water (if you pour hot water over the corn starch, it might gelatinize and give you lumpy stew) and stir everything together.

Cook on the "Low" setting for 5 hours (or longer - this is one recipe that can simmer all day long without hurting it - the flavors get richer the longer it simmers, and the long, slow cooking time is why you want the veggies cut into rather large chunks, so they don't fall apart).

Serve with rolls or tortillas... or just enjoy it by itself!

* If you're using a 5-quart Crock Pot, you'll probably want to cut all of the ingredient quantities by about 1/3, so you won't overfill your dish and end up with spillover. For a 3-quart Crock Pot, cut the ingredient quantities in half.

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