There were a lot of recipes for crock-pot meals when I was growing up, most of them the bastard offspring of a can of cream of mushroom soup and some grey, freezer-burned meat. Mom used hers mostly for stew and chili and the occassional roast. Not everything does well in a crock- pot (such as broccoli or some pasta dishes - "al dente is for wimps!") But for larger "less than tender" cuts of meat, it's a handy appliance for the working person.
This is made with hangar steak, which I first had at a blog meet at the Belgium Brew Pub. The hangar steak is prized for its flavor and anatomically "hangs" from the diaphragm of a steer or heifer, weighing about 1 to 1.5 pounds. It was often known as "butcher's steak" because they would often keep it for themselves rather than offer it for sale (fortunately for me, Moody's Butcher Shop in the greater Indianapolis area sells them and I will gladly make the drive to visit one of their locations).
Hangar steak is not a particularly tender piece and is best marinated and braised or cooked quickly over high heat and served medium rare to rare, but it has a wonderful beefy flavor you just don't find in other cuts of meat. It's not cheap but quality butchers will offer it, sometimes on sale (I got mine in a "frozen meat sale" for just a bit more than $13 and as prepared, it served four people.
Hangar Steak Goulash. You can make this up to go in the crock pot in just a few minutes, after you fry up a few pieces of bacon for breakfast and it will be ready when most of you get home from work.
1 and 1/2 pound hangar steak.
1 cup dry white wine
7-8 pieces of bacon, four cooked just tender, the remainder cooked crispy for garnish. Save a little bit of the drippings.
2 small cans tomatoes (with juice)
3 celery hearts, chopped (not diced fine)
3/4 large sweet onion sliced
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Jane's Krazy Salt (Moody's sells it but the website is here. )
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (or 3 cloves)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons HOT Hungarian paprika
Marinate the hangar steak in a zip lock bag in dry white wine for a few hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator. Remove meat, reserving 1/2 cup of the wine (discard rest).
Place steak in crock pot and cover with tomatoes, reserved wine, celery, onion, Worcestershire, spices and four chopped slices of the tender bacon (with a teaspoon of the drippings), reserving crispy bacon bits for topping later. Stir gently, cover and set to cook for low for 8 hours (mine has a feature which will move it to warm when the 8 hours is done).
When you get home remove about a half cup of the broth, let cool slightly and stir in a couple heaping teaspoons of flour if you would like the stock thicker and whisk until there are no lumps. SLOWLY stream into the crock pot, stirring constantly, then place lid back on, turn heat up if it's on warm and continue cooking another 15-30 minutes to thicken.
Serve in bowls with sour cream and chopped crispy bacon. This would also be good over noodles for those so inclined. :-)