Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew

A creamy beef stew with potatoes, onion, carrot and celery and cooked in the slow cooker. Here it is served over rice, in the Deep South tradition.

Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I've made this stew a few times over this fall and winter, but the process of measuring out, documenting and photographing a recipe, so that other folks can follow it too, can be a bit daunting at times, when all you really want to do is just sit down and eat!

So, finally, I bring you the other way that I love to do a beef stew. Y'all know how I am about creamy stuff and this version, cooked in a creamy gravy, really is one of our favorites. Bonus is it's written for the slow cooker.

Unlike the stovetop version of beef stew, vegetables take much longer to cook in a slow cooker, so don't wait to add them. Add them to the crockpot, then top with the meat and broth.

Although many of you will remember beef stew made with economical ground beef, my beef stew begins with a roast most often. Anytime that you make a beef stew I suggest that you always select a full size roast. Packages of cubed stew meat are not only sold at a premium price, but they contain odds and ends of trimmings, cut off of many varieties of meats, some of which are not especially braise friendly. Slow stewing is key to tender meat with a stew and if you've used stew meat before and had some random pieces of tough meat in the end, that's why. They were probably leaner cuts of beef trimmings that landed in the stew meat pile. I much prefer finding a good sale on chuck roast and freezing it until I am ready to make a stew.

Here's how to make this hearty slow cooker beef stew.

Cut the roast into bite-sized pieces, about 1 inch in size.

Combine the flour with the next 7 seasoning ingredients - dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried basil, paprika, salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning - in a zipper bag, shake well to combine; add the beef, shaking to coat. Heat the oil over medium in a large pot and brown the beef in batches; reserve the seasoned flour.

While the meat is browning, prepare the vegetables and add all of them to the slow cooker, except for the sliced onion. Transfer the browned meat on top of the vegetables as it cooks, adding additional oil to the pot as needed to finish the remaining beef cubes.

Stir the reserved flour into the drippings and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, whisking until smooth.

Whisk in the water, then the beef broth, adding in the beef base and Kitchen Bouquet if using; bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly for about a minute until mixture is thickened.

Scatter the sliced onion on top and carefully transfer the gravy over the beef.

Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, or high for 3 to 4, or until beef is tender and vegetables are cooked through.

I can't remember if I ever shared one of my 6 quart slow cookers with you. I've had it awhile now and I absolutely LOVE this slow cooker. It has a hinged lid, so that you can open it without having to find someplace to set the lid down. There's also a drip cup on the back side that catches the condensation that builds up on the inside lid too so that when you do open it, all the condensation falls into the cup.

It has a built in heat boost, so that when you open it, it kicks up to a higher heat temporarily so that you don't loose as much heat as you do with any standard slow cooker. The biggest plus for me has been the vented sides, because I am convinced it is that venting that keeps it from cooking so hot, as so many of them do these days. It seems to cook  much more evenly, unlike the other brand of 6-quart Crockpot slow cooker I purchased just before this, that I found cooked far too hot. It's a fantastic slow cooker made by T-Fal under the Emeril brand and depending on when you're reading this, may or may not still be available at retailers and online at places like Amazon. It's a great slow cooker, if you're in the market for one, although I now have a Ninja Cooker and wow do I love that!

By the way, Kitchen Bouquet is a product we use quite a bit in the South, so it's pretty much a pantry staple. It's essentially a browning and seasoning sauce used to add richness to meats, gravies, and stews. The ingredients include caramel coloring, and a mixed vegetable stock, including carrots, onions, celery, parsnips, turnips, salt, and parsley. It's not required but it's a great flavor addition.

Recipe: Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 8 hours | Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 2-pound chuck roast, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • About 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening, bacon fat, vegetable or canola oil, divided
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled, quartered and cut into chunks
  • 2 large carrots, scraped and cut into chunks
  • 1 stalk (rib) of celery, sliced thick
  • 1 cup of sliced sweet or yellow onion
  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 cups of beef broth or stock
  • 1 tablespoon of beef base, (like Better than Bouillon), optional
  • 2 teaspoons of Kitchen Bouquet, optional
  • Hot, cooked rice, optional

Cut the roast into 1 inch pieces. Combine the flour with the next 7 seasoning ingredients in a zipper bag, shake well to combine; add the beef, shaking to coat. Reserve the seasoned flour. Heat about half the oil over medium in a deep skillet or large pot and brown the beef in batches, adding more oil as needed.

While the meat is browning, prepare the vegetables and add all of them to the slow cooker, except for the sliced onion. Transfer the browned meat on top of the vegetables. Stir in the reserved flour a little at a time and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the water, then the beef broth, adding in the beef base and Kitchen Bouquet, if using; bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly for about a minute until mixture is thickened. Scatter the sliced onion on top of the meat and carefully transfer the gravy over the onion. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, or high for 3 to 4, or until beef is fork tender and vegetables are cooked through.

We like to serve this over hot, cooked rice with fresh, hot biscuits, cornbread or rolls on the side.

Cook's Notes: May also simmer on the stovetop. Low simmer the meat and seasonings, uncovered, for about 2 hours, then add the vegetables and cook another 30 minutes, or until tender. Packages of stew meat are not only sold at a premium price, but they also contain odds and ends trimmings off of many different varieties of meats, some of which are not braise friendly. Watch for full sized roasts on sale, stock up and freeze to use for your stews. Brown the beef in batches to avoid overcrowding and steaming the meat, making it gummy. The gravy will thicken when refrigerated, so when reheating leftovers, stir in some beef broth to help loosen it.

Poor Man's Ground Beef Stew: Substitute one pound of ground beef, cooked and drained. Reduce flour to 1/3 cup and stir into cooked beef along with the seasonings. Prepare as above, reducing liquid slightly to a total of 4 to 5 cups. Cook time will be around 6 to 7 hours on low.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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©Deep South Dish
Shared at Whatcha Crockin’ Week 45!
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Posted by on February 12, 2013
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  1. I like your tip about buying that package of convenient stew meat. You just can beat a chuck roast! And I like your seasonings to coat the meat. I bought a larger crock pot at Costco a couple years ago. Even on low, I think it cooks too hot. And one time I put it on "keep warm" and ame back later and the thing was bubbling like it was on high high. I realized then, the cheap purchase should have stayed on the shelf. However, I like the size. Good info here.

    1. Yeah, I don't know what they've done to slow cookers the past few years but they all seem to do nothing but BOIL! I love this new T-fal - it really cooks the way its supposed to. Wish I had bought it before I bought the other Crockpot 6 quart.

  2. Looks like a fine dish Mary - we don't make as much crock pot use as we should.

    1. Truth is, neither do I Larry!! I'm so used to slow cooking on the stove that's what I go to most times. Being at home of course makes that much easier than before when I was working & commuting.

  3. What's not to love about a slow cooker that is that convenient?
    I borrowed your Mardi Gras art from FB and used it on my blog, gave you credit, don't ya know. As well as sendig hungry folks your way to drool over all the wonderful recipes you share. Goodness I know I have you on speed look up on my 'puter. Thanks and Laissez les bons temps rouler! (even in the rain)

    1. Thanks Linda! Yes, it's raining, pouring even at times. Maybe it will pause for the Biloxi parade just about to start. It's not storming, just rain, so that won't stop those folks! Just glad I'm at home today & not out there!!

  4. I picked up a bottle of Kitchen Bouquet thinking I would use it for a specific recipe and never use it again, but I use it a lot now. Good stuff.

  5. Mary, you cook so much like I cook! This is almost exactly how I make my beef stew! I agree with you, that a chuck roast is what to use!! Thanks for another great recipe! Will try it with the few ingredients you use that I haven't. Love all of your recipes! You're the best! :)

    1. Oh Bonnie, you are TOO sweet! Thanks so much for the kind words {{{{HUGS}}}}!!

  6. Hi Mary - just a note to tell you i made your stew for a st. patrick's day (close enough, rite?) family get together. It was absolutely delicious, it will be my go to recipe from now on!! a crockpot it such a time saver 2!! also, picked up a couple of tips i wil use namely kitchen bouquet & the cut to use when making a stew. i have really enjoyed your blog - it has definitely expanded my culinary horizons.

    1. I'm so glad the family enjoyed the beef stew & thank you so much for stopping back by to let me know! I really do love a crockpot for things like stews, takes a little away from the watching over.

  7. hi mary - just a note to tell you i tried your recipe for a st. patrick's day (close enough to an irish stew, rite?) family get together. it was delicious and you can't beat the ease of the crockpot!! i also learned some new tips from your notes. i had never used kitchen bouquet before, will now & also the stew meat vs. a chuck roast. i have really enjoyed your blog & you certainly have expanded my culinary horizons, thank you!!

  8. Hi Mary, I think I have about 40 of your recipes bookmarked. Love your cooking. Grew up in Biloxi, live in Mexico now. Love to cook, love your blog.

    1. Hi Claude and fellow Biloxian!! You know it doesn't matter how long you're gone from here - you're always a Biloxian right? Welcome & I hope that you find a little bit of "home" in my recipes.

  9. Where do you get Better than Bullion? Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Piggly Wiggly stores in this area don't carry it. I'll be on the Coast in the next few weeks and can check Rouse's and Winn-Dixie in Ocean Springs.

    1. Wow, that's crazy Dalton! Wondering if maybe they have it in an odd area. Walmart does that - you'd think it'd be by the regular broths but they have it a little away from there here. Anyway, Walmart, Winn Dixie and Rouse's all have it here.

    2. If Wally World has it here, it's well hidden :-) One would think it would be with broths and bullion cubes. There are some soup starters and Knorr concentrated broths available but no Better than Bullion. I'll check Rouse's next time I'm in Ocean Springs. I love that store!

    3. I can believe that because for months our Walmart didn't have it. They are constantly moving stock around and "remodeling" the way they stock things on the shelf and for some reason the BTB just disappeared off the shelves, along with all of the regular bouillons. Then those packaged concentrated broths showed up but still no BTB or other bases. It may have been a good year before it finally showed back up on the shelf at Walmart and then they weren't by the broth cartons but in a different area! Who knows what their thinking is! I know for sure Rouses will have it, well, unless for some reason they are out, but they do carry it.

  10. Wow! Mary, I think I found you just in time for the winter months ahead. I do believe the recipes I saved to ZipList are gonna get this old man through the winter. Learning how to cook after 50 years of depending on a wife. Oh we were stationed there in Biloxi as newely weds in 1962-63, loved it. God bless and keep up the good work.

    1. Hi Donald, welcome and thank you so much for taking the time to leaved me such a sweet note. God bless you and Merry Christmas!

  11. I have a 2 pound chuck roast in the fridge right now. This could be in my crock pot this weekend. You have another recipe I was thinking of doing.....now I have to decide! Pinning to try for sure!!

    1. I meant to come back and comment on how very good this was!! Another Hit!! Pinning to my TRIED IT & LIKED IT board!!

  12. Hi Mrs. Mary,
    I don't own a slow cooker, but I would really like to try this recipe. Would it taste the same if I slow cooked it on the stove? Or are there some revisions that must be made first? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Jasmine! You sure can - the instructions are at the very bottom of the recipe under "Cook's Notes!"


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