I don’t know how it’s going in your part of the country, but up here in New England we are having a brutally rude and unfair winter. I mean, yeah, it’s winter. It gets really cold, there’s barely any sunshine, and it snows, but this year has been one of the most difficult I can remember in a very long time. There’s more snow than places to put it and I’m pretty sure my kids have been home more days than they have actually been at school in the past two months. They are happy now, but come June it’s not going to be pretty when they are making up for a ridiculous number of snow days. One of the best ways to get through stormy winter days, aside from taking a double (or triple) dose of Vitamin D, is by cooking and eating a big bowl of comfort food. Personally, I love using the slow cooker. I do a bunch of prepping, toss everything in, and spend the next 6-8 hours taking in the delicious smell from my kitchen. Most recently I decided to throw together a hearty beef stew that I was certain Cody and Paul would love but not so sure about Nick. I bribed him by saying I’d serve it with a side of crusty baguette and he reluctantly agreed.
I hadn’t made a beef stew in quite a while so when I started to search for a recipe I got a little frustrated because none were simple and basic, which I find is always best when preparing a batch of such a classic comfort food. I finally decided to to create something on my own and even though I didn’t taste it along the way or eat it for dinner (I don’t eat meat), I gauged how well it turned out by the fact that the guys devoured it. As in, ALL of it. I figure if they loved it so much then I should share it and save it for later, you know, when we get more snow and need an easy meal for a cozy Sunday afternoon when we’re stuck inside and nearly ready to tear each others’ heads off.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Here’s what you need: (This amount fed three guys, 2-3 servings each.)
- 1 – 1 1/2 pounds stew beef
- 4 potatoes, washed and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 – 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 – 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 – 3 cups broth (I used vegetable)
- 1/4 cup olive oil – I actually used bacon fat leftover from breakfast and Paul said it added nice flavor.
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt
Here’s what you need to do:
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, toss the beef and flour in a large bowl making sure to coat the meat completely.
- Add the meat to the skillet and turn several times to brown all sides. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker.
- Add more oil to the pan if needed and toss in the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes then add the garlic and saute for 5 more minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste and and combine until the onions are coated completely. Add the mixture to the slow cooker.
- Pour 1 cup of the broth into the skillet and whisk, making sure to scrape up any bits in the bottom of the pan. Add the liquid to the slow cooker.
- Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, 2 cups of broth, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and bay leaf to the slow cooker and stir to combine everything together.
- Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
- 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve the stew, use a ladle to remove 1 cup of liquid from the cooker and whisk it with about 1 tablespoon of flour until completely combined. Pour back into the stew, add the peas, and give everything a stir.
- Serve and enjoy!
*You can skip the first part of step 8 if you like a thinner liquid in your stew, but my family likes it thicker, which makes this a very important part of the process for me.
I hope your winter hasn’t been nearly as brutal as ours, but if it has, I promise this stew will warm things up a little bit. Now can we please just fast forward to summer?