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.
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
Total time: 8 hours 15 min
Yield: About 6 to 8 servings


Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions

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.

Instant Pot: Using saute function, prepare meat, onion, celery and garlic as above in batches. Deglaze pot with a big splash of broth and scrape up browned bits from bottom. Add seasonings and beef broth, reducing to 1 quart, omitting water. Return meat to pot, seal and set for 15 minutes. Let pressure release naturally 10 minutes, then quick release. Top with carrots and potatoes, reseal and set for 5 minutes. Let pressure release naturally 10 minutes, then quick release. To thicken, unseal pot, set to saute, stir together 3 tablespoons water or milk and 2 tablespoons cornstarch and stir into pot. Let boil for 2 minutes, then turn off pot.

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
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Posted by on February 12, 2013
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