Inspired by this recipe from Today, I made a freezer-to-slow cooker meal that was a big hit with my guys!
Braised Beef with Rigatoni
1.5 lb stew beef (trimmed cubes from less expensive cuts, suitable for long/slow cooking)
2 cans (14 oz each) beef broth
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
8-10 cloves garlic
2 Tbs dried sage
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped kale or arugula
1 lb rigatoni or your favorite pasta
Sear beef cubes in a skillet over medium heat, in batches so that the pan is not crowded. Turn each cube once, and set aside when done. You will know when the beef has a nice brown crust and is ready to be turned when it releases easily from the pan. Once all the beef is seared, add one can of beef broth to the hot skillet, scraping up all the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomato paste and tomato sauce. Add the beef (and juices that may have seeped out) back into the pan. If freezing for later, skip to footnote**
Transfer to a slow cooker or large lidded pot. Add the second can of beef broth, along with the garlic and sage. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours, stirring occasionally. Use the back of the spoon to gently break up the meat and garlic toward the end of the cooking time. Season with a little salt, plenty of pepper, and additional dried sage if desired.
To serve, cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and mix into the sauce with the chopped greens. Plate and top with grated parmesan. I served this with green beans and Garlic-Parmesan Crescent Rolls.
**Let the beef mixture cool completely. Add to a zip-top freezer bag with the garlic and sage. Seal, flatten, and label: "Add 1 can beef broth. Cook on Low 8 hours. Serve with Rigatoni and Parmesan."