Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Slow Cooker Celery and Apple Karelian Stew(Karjalanpaisti) - €1.40 per serving

To quote Heavyweights, "Sometimes, in life, things don't work out the way you plan."
Saturday was one of those days. 

I had intended to make a delicious and traditional pot of Karelian stew(Karjalanpaisti), blog about it, and then sleep well knowing I didn't offend anyone by bastardizing their food-heritage. This is not what happened.

First, some context: Karelian stew is supposed to be a very simple dish. In its purest form, it contains nothing more than meat, water, and some seasoning. Normally, however, the sew also contains some onions, carrots, or other root vegetables. It's a classic Finnish dish, and is one of the most famous dishes from the Karelia/Karjala area. I had intended to make mine with onion, carrot, and celery. I had also planned to add a bay leaf, and serve the dish with potatoes.

Saturday morning, though, I found that my carrots and carrots had expired, and that I, apparently, didn't have any bay leaves. Oops?

So, I improvised. Dear readers, let me present you with "Slow Cooker Celery and Apple Karelian Stew". Serves 4-5.

  • 1 x 600g package Karjalanpaisti meat(If this isn't available where you are, substitute some fatty pork and beef pieces) - €4.75
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped - €1,10
  • 2 white onions, chopped - €0.40
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped - €0.30
  • 2 stock cubes or packets(I used Fon Du Chef, vegetable flavor) - 8 pack is €2, so €0.50
  • 50g butter - I assume most people have butter or oil already, so I don't count this in my calculation.
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Total cost: €7.05, or between €1.40 and €1.75 per serving.

If you don't have a slow cooker(haudutuspata), they can be found in most shops that sell small appliances. I bought mine from Halpa-Halli for about €30. If that's not an option, an oven-safe pot will do.  I used the slow cooker because whenever I've had this dish in the past, the meat has been a little dry. I thought by cooking it relatively low and slow, and by using some extra liquid, I could keep the meat tender and juicy. 

First, chop the onions, celery, and apple, and place them into the slow cooker. Out the 50 grams on butter in a pan over medium-high heat, and add the meat. Leave the meat in just long enough to get a little bit of color, 3 to 4 minutes. 

Pour the contents of the pan into the slow cooker, then add between 5 and 7 decilitres of water to the pan, and mix in the stock cubes. Once they've dissolved, add it all to the slow cooker. Add salt and pepper.(Note: Bay leaves and allspice are also awesome seasonings). Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours. 

The next time I make this, I'll definitely be adding two or three carrots. I'll also be serving it over boiled potatoes.

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