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So Where Were We?

July 15, 2009

Note: I’ve heard from a few of you that this one didn’t work out as expected. For some reason, the sauce isn’t thickening uniformly, and the sauce is turning out blander than it should be. I’m going to revisit this one and try to figure out where it went wrong. I’ll post an update once I get it sorted out.

Wow, it’s been a month since I last posted a recipe. Apologies all around. Sometimes, life just gets in the way of blogging–and cooking, even. It’s sad, but true. I have been so busy with work that I haven’t had time to be all that creative with my meals. Lots of quick grilled things, lots more ordered in pizza, Chinese, Mexican, etc. My wallet, waistline, and blog have all suffered for it.

I hope you’ll forgive the lapse, and let me tempt you with a new crock pot recipe…as well as a few more recipes this week.  There’s definitely more coming in the days ahead, including: Grilled apricot balsamic chicken; Moroccan grilled chicken; Crock pot Porcupine Balls; and lemon mint couscous.

But first, let’s talk about today’s recipe: Crockpot Marsala Beef, which was born from a series of mistakes.

This one came into being because I bought some pepper-crusted “steaks” (a term that is far too kind when referring to these hunks of sinew) at a local market. We grilled them (mistake #1) which only served to make them tougher than an old catcher’s mitt.  That pepper crust that looked so flavorful? Pure eyewatering hell (mistake #2). Even Mr. Alfa, who would pepper his cornflakes if I didn’t give him the mal occhio, found it overwhelming. I had 2 more of these little pricy pieces of crap in the freezer, and was determined not to let them go to waste. So, I came up with the idea of crockpotting them (which would break down the toughness) in a Sweet Marsala sauce (which would cut the pepper).

Great idea, in theory. Turns out, there are some things that even a whole lot of Sweet Marsala can’t fix. The meat was tender; the sauce was exquisite; the pepper still brought the pain.  But from this debacle, a perfectly good recipe was born. I tried again, with a friendlier cut of beef, and came up with something that delivers a lot of the flavors of Veal Marsala, without all the fat and stove splattering last minute cooking.

Crock Pot Marsala Beef

(serves 6-8)

2 lbs baby red bliss potatoes (or some other small, tender skinned potatoes) quartered

Top round roast (about 2 lbs), left in one piece

1 lb sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas, but white mushrooms would work)

2 lg. yellow onions, quartered and sliced

1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed

3 cups sweet Marsala wine (divided 2 cups + 1 cup)

2 cups beef stock or broth (NOT beef-flavored broth; read the containers carefully)

2 tbp. butter

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour


  1. In this order, add to the crock pot: onions, potatoes, mushrooms, beef, rosemary, beef broth, 2 cups Marsala. Liberally salt & pepper the whole thing, then slam the lid down, set it to high, and walk away.
  2. About 4.5 hours later, its time to put on the finishing touches. Remove the hunk o’ meat carefully–it’s going to try to fall apart before you get it out of the pot; don’t let it. Either break it apart with your tongs, or cut it into stew-sized pieces. Set it aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the 2 tbsp. butter. Stir in the 2 tbsp of flour, and keep stirring for 1-2 minutes to cook off the raw flour taste. Now, you’re going to want to flavor this roux, so add a little salt & pepper, then stir in the final cup of sweet Marsala. Keep this thick brownish sauce base moving (it’s going to look a little like Play-Doh; don’t be frightened)  for about 1 minute — you can’t stop stirring or it will burn.
  4. We’re in the home stretch now. Stir the sauce base in to the veggie-liquid mix in the crock pot. Mix thoroughly, so you don’t get little clumps. Add the meat back in, slap the lid back on, and wander off for 20-30 minutes, so the sauce can thicken and the meat rewarm.
  5. Serve. Eat. Go mmmmmm.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Bonzee permalink
    July 15, 2009 12:51 pm

    I just died and went to heaven *reading* this recipe. I can’t wait to try it, thank you again so much!

  2. Lisa aka Nutz permalink
    July 15, 2009 3:50 pm

    That sounds ridiculously good. Thank you!

  3. Bonzee permalink
    July 15, 2009 5:25 pm

    Okay, I just ran this through my recipe builder. Does this yield a lot of sauce, or just enough? I’m thinking if I cut back on the amount of Marsala it would save me a couple points per serving.

    • alfagee permalink*
      July 15, 2009 5:47 pm

      It’s not about the amount of sauce, though you do need a certain amount of liquid for things to cook properly in a crock pot. It’s more about the flavor.

      The Marsala is the primary flavor component in this dish. Cut down on it, if you must, but know that you’re radically changing the taste of the dish.

      • Bonzee permalink
        July 15, 2009 6:46 pm

        Thank you for your response! I’d rather earn more AP’s than cut back on flavor 😀

  4. E11even permalink
    July 18, 2009 2:23 pm

    sounds delightful.

    I’ll have to skip the mushrooms of course. stupid picky eaters. I’ll do mine on the side.

    this is sunday dinner I believe.

  5. BeePozitive permalink
    July 19, 2009 2:30 am

    This sounds really, really good. Thank you.

  6. E11even permalink
    July 25, 2009 12:47 pm

    We have another winner. Mr. E really loved it. Of course I had to do it w/out mushrooms for him, so not a true marsala, but so good. My sauce didn’t thicken enough, probably because of the no mushrooms, huh?

  7. July 25, 2009 10:20 pm

    I hope you will join me for Crock Pot Wednesdays at beginning August 5. It’s going to be fun and, hopefully, you will share in the giveaways:) Mister Linky is waiting for you to sign up.

  8. Julie permalink
    September 7, 2009 6:55 pm

    My sauce didn’t thicken either, and I added another roux at the end. It was pretty soupy, so I think I lost some of the flavor.

    • alfagee permalink*
      September 8, 2009 8:46 am

      I’m so sorry this recipe didn’t work out for you

      I’m going to revisit this recipe, and try to figure out why it isn’t working for everyone. I suspect I must have done something else while making it that didn’t translate to the written recipe.

      • Julie permalink
        September 8, 2009 7:49 pm

        J did like the flavor, and loved the concept. I wonder if it will thicken when reheated? We’re going to try leftovers over rice this week.

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