Hobo Meatball Stew

A slow cooker is a working woman’s best friend in the kitchen. Really. Unless you can hire a cook, this is one of the best ways to keep your sanity and ensure you have a warm meal waiting for you when you come home from work in the evening. (But if you have enough money to hire a cook, you probably aren’t working. Hmm…anyway….)

A about a year ago, I found a recipe for a yummy-sounding slow cooker recipe. I tried it. And it really was good! It was a different way of cooking most stews than I had ever cooked them before in the crock pot, but it really turned out well and I was pleased. Jon enjoyed it too, which is a good thing. (I don’t like cooking things that only one of us likes or only one of us will eat. Means one of us is stuck eating the leftovers…)

That’s making me hungry just looking at the picture! I can almost smell it cooking in the kitchen…except it’s not in there, so I will be sorely disappointed come dinner time. 🙁

Here’s the positive thing, it’s really pretty easy to throw together in 15-20 minutes in the morning before you head off to work. And if you can take those few minutes in the morning, it will be so worth it when you come home and don’t have to do any work except serve it up!

Here’s what you need to make this easy slow-cooker meal:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 4-5 medium potatoes
  • 4 medium carrots (or bag of baby carrots)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of basil

    Waiting to be cooked….

What you need to do to make this fabulous dish:

  •  Combine ground beef, and 1/2 of the salt and pepper in a bowl, mix well
  • Form ground beef into 1-inch balls and brown on all sides in a skillet over medium-high heat; drain and set aside
  • Peel and cut potatoes into small chunks; place into bottom of slow cooker
  • Peel and cut carrots into small chunks (or use a pre-peeled bag of baby carrots); layer on top of potatoes in slow cooker
  • Slice onion into small pieces; layer on top of potatoes and carrots
  • Top vegetables with meatballs
  • Combine ketchup, water, vinegar, basil, and remaining salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well; pour evenly over the meatballs and vegetables in the slow cooker
  • Cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours or on LOW for 8-10 hours

Serve it up and eat until you’re heart…or stomach is content! We love to cook up some rolls or muffins and enjoy them with this stew.

One of the things that I do when making this meal is add additional liquid. I like my stews to lean toward the soupy side. I usually double all of the liquids (ketchup, water and vinegar) and then add another 1/2 cup of water and a cube of beef bouillon to help add to the water flavor.

If you’re short on time or don’t want meatballs in the stew but still want the meat, just brown it up in the pan, drain and dump on top of your vegetables. Speaking of meat, the original recipe calls for ground beef but I have a different preference. The first time that I made this, I used ground turkey (since that’s all I had) and it was fantastic! The next time I made it, I used ground beef and didn’t enjoy it as much. I have made it several more times and have seasoned my ground beef with more than just salt and pepper (sometimes basil, sometimes oregano…just something to add a little extra to the beef) and that has made them much better.

All cooked and ready for devouring!

Also, if you’re still short on time, or just want to add further nutrients to the stew, you can leave the skins on the potatoes. I love the taste of the skins so I have no problem doing that. Just make sure that you’ve given the potatoes a good scrubbing before slicing and adding to the slow cooker…don’t want dirt in there (that’s not the kind of “nutrient” you want…yuck).

Give this easy meal a shot and let your slow cooker do the work for you while you’re away working or having fun. It’s rewarding to come home to a finished meal at the end of a long day. Let me know how it turns out and what you did to make it your own.