real life test kitchen: slow cooker beef stew


Here’s a recipe for those of you serving a crowd on St. Patrick’s Day — though I actually made this back in January (P.I. time — pre-Isadora) and froze half of it. Ironically, it’s “Mom’s Beef Stew” from a book called Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook. (I’m not sure what it says about me, that of all the recipes in the book, I picked out the one that was ‘Mom’s’). It’s amazingly easy, if you have a slow cooker handy.

First, place chopped up potatoes and carrots at the bottom of the cooker. Then coat two pounds of boneless beef chunks in flour, paprika, salt and pepper, and brown it in a skillet. Transfer to the meat to the slower cooker, and add in chopped onion, celery, mushrooms. Stir up, leaving potatoes and carrots on the bottom layer. Add in a mixture of beef broth, tomato paste, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and cloves. Tuck in a bay leave or two and some parsley sprigs. Cover, and cook on low for eight to nine hours. Right before you serve, stir in some frozen peas and cook for fifteen more minutes. We served our stew over mashed potatoes. Talk about a comfort food hitting home! This dish did the trick.

I’m sure there is a way to make this without a slow cooker — simmering in a dutch oven on the stove for three or four hours? Does anyone know? Click through to the next page for the full recipe! — Angela M.

Mom’s Beef Stew — from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook

8 to 12 small boiling potatoes (1 to 1 1/2 lbs) like Yukon Gold
4 large carrots, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch lengths
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp of paprika
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground peppper
2 to 2 1/2 lbs boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 6 or 8 wedges
1 large rib celery, outer strings removed, sliced 1/2 inch think
6 to 8 medium-size fresh mushrooms, cut in half
2 cups of beef broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
pinch of ground cloves
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 10 oz package of frozen peas, thawed

1. Place potatoes in the slow cooker. Top with carrots.
2. In a zip-top bag plastic bag or a bowl, combine flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Toss the beef in the mixture.
3. In large skillet, heat 1 tblsp olive oil over medium-heat. Add meat, browning on all sides. As pieces are browned, transfer w/ slotted spoon to the cooker. Repeat till all meat is brown, adding more olive oil if needed.
4. Add onion, celery, and mushrooms to cooker. Stir to distribute throughout meat, leaving potatoes and carrots on the bottom layer.
5. In a bowl, stir together broth, tomato paste, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and cloves. Pour into cooker. Tuck in bay leaf and parsley springs into the stew. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours, or HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.
6. Discard parsley and bay leaf. Stir in peas, cover and cook on high for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot in bowls!

From our partners

this looks really yummy- will have to try!

Sure you can do it on the stove; it’s almost the same process! Brown your meat first, remove and add your onions & garlic to the drippings, and stir for a few minutes. Put the meat back in, add the liquid ingredients (I like to splash in some red wine, too) and spices and let simmer for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Add the potatoes and carrots and let simmer for another 45-60 minutes. The peas go in the last 10 minutes, I don’t even bother thawing them. See, it’s almost the same! We like our stew with biscuits.

I make an even simpler version, from a cookbook I received as a gift when I got a slow cooker.
Chop up two onions (maybe one? I’ll check at home), 2 carrots, and two potatoes.
Brown a couple pounds of stewing beef (tossed in flour, salt and pepper).
Put it all in a slow cooker with a few sprigs of thyme.
Pour in 2 cups of Guinness or other very dark beer.
Cook for 8 hours.
It’s one of our favorites and SO easy. I just made it without browning the meat for the first time. I simply didn’t get a chance to sear the meat and I figured I’d see what happened. There was a bit less flavor, but it was still good. The main difference was that the meat didn’t hold together as well, so it shredded up as soon as I stirred the finished stew.

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[…] in two cups of Guinness or other very dark beer. Cook for eight hours.” See Angela’s slow cooker stew recipe here (along with other tips from […]