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In the deep cold of a New England winter, there’s one dish that I turn to time and time again; beef stew. My family loves almost all stews, but beef is one that we often find ourselves craving on all those frigid, snowy days. It’s warm, filling, full of tender meat and plenty of hearty vegetables. Not to mention that thick flavorful broth that’s perfect for scooping up with a warm piece of crusty bread. The ultimate comfort food.
I prepare my beef for this recipe by trimming off any fat, and give it a good pay dry with some paper towels. I let it rest, loosely covered, and bring it to room temperature. This helps the beef get nicely browned, which brings out deep, rich flavor. To brown the beef, you’ll need to have a sauté function on your slow cooker or you can use a separate pan on the stove. I’ve noted in the recipe that you can cook this for 6-8 hours. We prefer our meat to be fork tender and basically shredding apart. If you’d prefer that the meat maintain some bigger, firmer chunks I’d recommend checking it at 6 hours. The longer it’s allowed to cook, the more flavor it will develop.
The quality of wine you use in this recipe will play a large role in the flavor of your stew. My rule of thumb is to never cook with a wine that I wouldn’t drink. Shiraz, cabernet, or a petite sirah all work well in this dish, but feel free to use your favorite. Being patient and allowing it simmer down to half its volume will yield big results in terms of flavor.
As with the wine, the broth you use will contribute greatly to the flavor of the stew. I prefer the beef broth from Kitchen Basics or the bone broth from Pacific Foods. Kitchen Basics have a fantastic allergen policy, although both brands are dairy-free. This is a great way to add more bone broth to your diet, which is high in natural collagen and is said to support joint, skin, and hair health (among other things).
Thickening The Stew
My preferred way to thicken this stew is to mash some of the potatoes right in the broth and give it a good stir. The starch from the potatoes will help thicken the broth without the need to add a roux or starch slurry. Another option I love is scooping out a few ladles of the vegetables in to my blender, blend until smooth, then add it back in to the stew. Give it a stir, and you’ll have that beautiful texture that I’ve photographed in this post. It’s also a very healthy, simple way to thicken everything up. Add salt and pepper to your preferred taste and you’ll have yourself a flavorful, rich, stick-to-your-ribs stew. It’s perfect for dipping a freshly warmed piece of crusty bread.
Beef Stew is an amazing recipe if you like to prepare meals ahead of time. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. Freezing time is debatable and I have heard of folks storing it for up to 6 months. I find that after 3 months the texture starts to change, so I recommend storing it frozen for no longer than 3 months. It never usually lasts that long anyway.
The Slow Cooker
I love my crockpot because it has a
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- 2 lbs stew beef
- 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion peeled and diced
- 8 oz mushrooms sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 potatoes peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces, or 1 bag whole small baby potatoes
- 3 oz tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 4 carrots peeled and cut into about 1 inch pieces
- sprinkle of thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 32 oz chicken or beef broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- freshly chopped parsley for garnish
- Heat your oil in a large nonstick pan, or in the pot of your slow cooker if it’s stovetop safe.
- Add your beef and onion, and cook it until the beef is browned on all sides.
- Add your garlic, and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add in your red wine, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer the wine until it reduces by half. Add this mixture and the remaining ingredients (through broth) to your slow cooker.
- Cook on low about 6 – 8 hours.
- For a thicker stew, you can add a cornstarch slurry or mash some of the potatoes right in the broth and give it a stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with some freshly chopped parsley. I like to serve this hot with a piece of toasted, crusty bread for dipping.
Did you make this slow cooker beef stew?
Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and rate the recipe.