Crockpot Meatball Stew with Dried Fruit

Crockpot meatball stew with dried fruit is a hearty and delicious dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. The first known recipes for this dish date back to the Roman Empire, when it was made with lamb meatballs, dried figs, and wine. The dish eventually made its way to Europe, where it was adapted to use different types of meats and fruits. In the United States, crockpot meatball stew with dried fruit became popular in the 1970s, when slow cookers became more widely available.

What makes crockpot meatball stew with dried fruit so special is the combination of flavors and textures. The meatballs are tender and flavorful, the dried fruit adds sweetness and tartness, and the vegetables add a touch of freshness. The stew is also very easy to make, making it a great option for busy weeknights.

Crockpot meatball stew with dried fruit is perfect for any occasion, but it is especially ideal for cold winter days. The warm and hearty stew will warm you up from the inside out. It is also a great option for potlucks and family gatherings.

Ingredients Needed

  • 1 pound of ground beef: Provides the base for the meatballs.
  • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs: Adds texture and helps bind the meatballs.
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese: Adds a savory and cheesy flavor.
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley: Adds freshness and color.
  • 1 egg: Acts as a binder for the meatballs.
  • 1 onion, finely chopped: Enhances the flavor of the stew.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced: Adds aromatic flavor.
  • 4 cups of beef broth: Forms the base of the stew.
  • 1 cup of diced tomatoes: Adds acidity and flavor.
  • 1 cup of dried mixed fruit: Adds a sweet and tangy flavor.
  • 1 cup of sliced carrots: Provides a natural sweetness and texture.
  • 1 cup of diced potatoes: Adds heartiness to the stew.
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme: Adds earthy flavor.
  • 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary: Provides a fragrant and savory taste.
  • Salt and pepper to taste: Adjust the seasoning according to your preference.

Equipment Needed

  • Crockpot or slow cooker: Used for cooking the stew over a long period of time.
  • Mixing bowl: Used for combining the ingredients for the meatballs.
  • Knife and cutting board: Used for chopping the onion, garlic, carrots, and potatoes.
  • Spoon or ladle: Used for serving the stew.

Instructions:

Step 1: Prepare the Meatballs

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, and egg. Mix until well combined.
  2. Shape the mixture into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.
  3. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and set aside.

Step 2: Prepare the Stew

  1. In the crockpot, add the chopped onion, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, dried mixed fruit, sliced carrots, diced potatoes, dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  2. Pour the beef broth over the ingredients in the crockpot and stir to combine.

Step 3: Cook the Stew

  1. Gently place the meatballs into the crockpot, submerging them in the liquid and vegetables.
  2. Cover the crockpot with the lid and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours.
  3. Stir the stew occasionally to ensure even cooking and distribution of flavors.

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy

  1. Once the meatballs are cooked through and the vegetables are tender, the stew is ready to be served.
  2. Ladle the meatball stew into bowls and garnish with additional chopped parsley, if desired.
  3. Serve the stew hot and enjoy its flavorful combination of meatballs, dried fruit, and vegetables.

Tips and Tricks to Know:

  • For added flavor, you can brown the meatballs in a skillet before placing them in the crockpot. This step is optional but can enhance the taste.
  • Experiment with different types of dried fruit, such as apricots, raisins, or prunes, to create your desired flavor profile.
  • If you prefer a thicker stew, you can mix 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch with a little water and stir it into the stew during the last hour of cooking.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Serve the meatball stew with a side of crusty bread or dinner rolls to soak up the flavorful broth.
  2. Pair it with a green salad for a refreshing contrast.
  3. Enjoy it as a comforting and satisfying meal on its own.

Storage Options and Shelf Life

  • The meatball stew can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • Alternatively, you can freeze the stew in freezer-safe containers for up to 2-3 months.
  • To reheat, thaw the stew in the refrigerator overnight if frozen, then warm it on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use ground turkey instead of ground beef?


Yes, you can substitute ground turkey for a lighter option. Keep in mind that the flavor and texture may vary slightly.

2. Can I use fresh fruit instead of dried fruit?

Dried fruit provides a concentrated sweetness and adds a different texture to the stew. Fresh fruit may release more liquid and change the overall consistency.

3. Can I add other vegetables to the stew?

Sure! You can customize the stew by adding vegetables like peas, celery, or bell peppers according to your preferences.

4. Can I use vegetable broth instead of beef broth?

Yes, you can use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version of the stew. The flavor profile will be slightly different but still delicious.

5. Can I cook the stew on high heat for a shorter amount of time?

Yes, you can cook the stew on high heat for 3-4 hours instead of low heat for 6-8 hours. Adjust the cooking time based on your needs and the tenderness of the vegetables.

6. Can I make the meatballs ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the meatballs in advance and store them in the refrigerator. Add them to the stew at the appropriate cooking time.

7. Can I add additional herbs or spices to the stew?

Feel free to experiment with other herbs and spices like bay leaves, paprika, or cumin to enhance the flavor of the stew according to your taste preferences.

Crockpot Meatball Stew with Dried Fruit

A hearty and flavorful stew featuring tender meatballs, dried fruit, and vegetables, cooked slowly in a crockpot for a delicious winter meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • Crockpot or slow cooker
  • Mixing bowl
  • Knife and cutting board.
  • Spoon or ladle

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 1 cup of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of dried mixed fruit
  • 1 cup of sliced carrots
  • 1 cup of diced potatoes

Instructions
 

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, and egg. Mix until well combined.
  • Shape the mixture into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. Place them on a baking sheet and set aside.
  • In the crockpot, add the chopped onion, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, dried mixed fruit, sliced carrots, diced potatoes, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the beef broth over the ingredients in the crockpot and stir to combine.
  • Gently place the meatballs into the crockpot, submerging them in the liquid and vegetables.
  • Cover the crockpot with the lid and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours.
  • Stir the stew occasionally to ensure even cooking and distribution of flavors.
  • Once the meatballs are cooked through and the vegetables are tender, the stew is ready to be served.
  • Ladle the meatball stew into bowls and garnish with additional chopped parsley, if desired.
  • Serve the stew hot and enjoy its flavorful combination of meatballs, dried fruit, and vegetables.

Notes

1. For added flavor, you can brown the meatballs in a skillet before placing them in the crockpot.
2. Experiment with different types of dried fruit, such as apricots, raisins, or prunes, to create your desired flavor profile.
3. If you prefer a thicker stew, mix 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch with a little water and stir it into the stew during the last hour of cooking.
Keyword Crockpot, dried fruit, meatballs, Stew

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