Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Crockpot Beef Stew

I always eat beef stew with a fork, but then I end up going back at the very end and getting a spoon to finish the soupy part of the stew.  K thinks that this is weird and beef stew should be eaten with a spoon only.  I don't know, I just can't get over trying to eat chunks of potato or beef with a spoon.  It just doesn't feel right.  You are probably sitting there thinking that I am crazy right about now.  But I am all about the texture when eating and that doesn't just mean the texture of the food. It also means the texture of eating certain things off of a spoon or fork and sometimes the meal just doesn't seem right unless I have the right utensil.  Come on, please tell me I am not alone on this one?   The beef has to be tender and flake apart between the tines of the fork and the potatoes and carrots have to be just firm enough to spear but not fall apart.  You can't get these same results with a spoon!  All of these textures, along with the hearty, full flavors make this stew a perfect comfort food. 

 This recipe is extremely customizable. Beef stew is one of those meals that you can just throw into a crockpot and pretty much forget about it.  I chose to brown the beef , onions, and celery before slow cooking, but if you don't have the time you can skip this step.  The browning does give the stew an extra depth of flavor, but it's not 100% necessary.  I bought this stew beef pre-cut at the grocery store, but I actually ended up cutting it into smaller pieces after I browned it. You could also buy a large piece of meat and cut it yourself; just be sure to get a cut of beef that will stand up to the long cooking process.

You can add whatever vegetables that you like or have on hand.  I used red onion, celery, baby carrots, and yukon gold potatoes, but feel free to change these up.  You could try adding other root vegetables like parsnips or turnips or maybe add some mushrooms or peas towards the end of the cooking time. 

We like putting a slow cooker seasoning packet into the stew because we like the flavor of the seasoning, but if you don't like cooking with these packets, just leave it out.  Try adding some of your favorite spices instead.

You can also play with the cooking times depending on what your schedule is like.  I made this stew last Sunday and got a later start than I had originally planned.  So I cooked the beef, onion, celery mixture for 2 hours on high and then added the potatoes and carrots and finished on low for a little over 4 hours. If you won't be around in the middle of cooking to add the potatoes and carrots, just add everything right at the beginning.  As long as the beef gets a long, slow bath in the crockpot, you can't really go wrong with this recipe. 

This beef stew is a wonderful rich and hearty meal.  It was the perfect dinner for the cold, rainy autumn day that we ate it.  The liquid is a cross between a thick soup broth and a luscious gravy.  The onions and celery melt right into the stew and you are left with delicious chunks of tender beef, potatoes, and carrots.  This beef stew will warm you from the inside out.

Crockpot Beef Stew

2-3 lbs stew beef, 1" chunks
2 tbsp flour
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
4-5 large potatoes, cubed
32 oz chicken or beef stock
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 packet beef stew seasoning, if desired
Salt and pepper, to taste
Water, if necessary
Shredded cheddar cheese, to garnish if desired

Preheat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Coat your beef chunks in salt, pepper, and flour.  Add a single layer of beef to the skillet and brown in batches until seared on the outside, about two minutes per side.  Remove the beef from the pan and add chopped onions and celery, cooking for several minutes until slightly softened.  Add about 1/2 cup of the beef stock and scrape the browned bits on the skillet with a wooden spoon.  Pour the onion, celery, beef stock mixture into the crockpot and add the beef chunks.  Stir in the remaining stock, worcestershire sauce, and seasoning packet to the crockpot.  Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.  After this time add the chopped carrots and potatoes and continue to cook for another 4 hours on low or 2 hours on high.  If you need more liquid at this point, add a bit of water.  The beef and vegetables should be mostly covered in liquid.  About 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, remove about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid from the crockpot and add the cornstarch to dissolve.  Return this mixture to the crockpot and stir well.  You can also check the seasoning at this point and add additional salt and pepper, if needed. The cornstarch should help thicken the consistency of the stew.  When the stew had thickened to your liking, serve with a hunk of fresh bread and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese, if desired.


1 comment:

  1. I just made this soup and it was delish! My 17 mo old son loved it too! Quick easy and cheap just the way I like it.