January 10, 2013

Crock Pot Beef Stew

(photo courtesy of Real Simple magazine)

Beef stew is a life necessity in my mind. My parents used to make it on the stove - Mom would do all the work, then Dad would come in and doctor up the broth. And it was very good.

I made it that way once. On the stove, flouring and browning the meat first, doctoring up the broth. And it was really good.

But I don't have time for that now, because not only does it take time to brown the meat, it also takes time to clean up the stove afterwards.

Don't think I am a whiner, I really don't have time most nights.

So, I am on a quest for the best crock pot recipe for beef stew. Last night I tried one from Real Simple magazine. You can find the original recipe here. I will give it to you here and tell you what I did differently and how I will change it further in the future.

Slow Cooker Classic Beef Stew

4 pounds bottom round, well trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces (I cut mine to 1/2 - 1 inch size. I wanted it to fit in my mouth.)

1 cup flour
1/3 cup olive oil (This is to coat and brown the meat first. I skipped this step entirely and have no regrets.)

2 large onions, diced (I sliced mine into half rings so that the picky ones could easily avoid them - or better yet - give them to me! I also wound up using maybe 1 1/2 onions - it just seemed like too much onion.)

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1 cup red wine (I used the cooking wine, but I think I will just substitute it for beef broth next time.)

1 pound potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces (I cut them to about 1 inch, maybe 1 1/2 inches most.)

1/2 pound baby carrots (about 2 cups)

2 cups beef broth

1 T kosher salt (too much salt for me, especially with the beef broth, I used about half of that)

1 tsp dried thyme leaves (oh yes, I love thyme!)

1 bay leaf

1 cup frozen peas, thawed (oops, forgot these, but why bother thawing them anyway? just add them sooner to the pot)

Coat the beef pieces and brown in oil if you must, otherwise just skip all of that and save yourself the mess (and the added fat and starch), put meat in slow cooker

Then you are supposed to add the onions to the skillet, saute a little and stir in the tomato paste. I just threw the raw onions in the slow cooker and mixed the paste into the rest of the liquids and seasonings.

Add the potatoes and carrots to the slow cooker, and then mix the rest of the ingredients (including the tomato paste) and pour over beef and vegetables.

Mix well, cover and cook on low 7 1/2 hours or on high 4 hours (I started mine late so I took the high road, lol).

If you happen to remember the peas, add them once everything is ready and cook a little while more till the peas are heated.

This was a hit, even with all of the omissions. My husband purposefully went on and on about how much he liked it. (Because I am much pickier than him, and if I don't like a recipe, I won't make it again, and apparently, he wants it again!)

What I will do differently next time:  substitute red wine for beef broth (or some of it, anyway), and use less meat and more vegetables. It really is a meat heavy recipe, but delicious!

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