Back to School Eats: Beef Stew
Magical, magical beef stew. This is one of the simplest and heartiest meals you can make. For this version, we’ll be using our trusty old Crock Pot. I love this thing, especially for cold weather cooking. Anything I can dump my ingredients into and come back a few hours later to a delicious meal, ranks pretty high in my book. There is no need for canned soup when you can add all the ingredients to the crock pot in the morning and have a hearty meal when you get home in the evening.
For this recipe we’ll be utilizing cheaper cuts of beef that typically stand up to the long-wet cooking method we are subjecting it to. We are using stewing beef, which is usually trimmings from various cuts of meat that tend to be tough under any other type of cooking method. For instance, you wouldn’t grill stewing beef. It would be too tough and incredibly hard to chew. However, the long cooking process allows any connective tissue in the various, otherwise unusable parts of the cow, to soften and become tender and delectable.
Beef stew is usually a catch-all for pantry ingredients you need to use up. The recipe I’m sharing today is pretty standard, but the variations are endless. Don’t like potatoes? Use barley. Hate celery? Leave it out. Want only carrots? Then use just carrots. The standard for any good beef stew, is a long slow cooking method and the broth it will be cooking in.
Now, to the broth. One of the most essential parts of a beef stew. It’s the stew part of the stew! I have found that the combo of both wine and beef stock allows for the most flavorful impact when letting this cook all day. Expensive wine isn't necessary, but always cook with a wine you would drink. For me, there isn't a wine I don't like, and I use two-buck Chuck often when cooking. They are resonably priced ($2.99) and I drink the remaining amount if it's not utilized in the recipe. Thyme and a bay leaf add the herbaceous kick we need to allow all the ingredients to meld. All this combined with the softened veggies and the tender beef, reward your taste buds with an umami that is unmatched in canned beef stews.
For the veggies, with the exception of the garlic and onions, you’ll want them to be roughly the same size. I always substitute baby carrots for regular carrots because I always seem to have baby carrots in my fridge. Any hearty root vegetable can be added, I just wouldn’t recommend broccoli, for example. Tender vegetables that won’t stand up to a long cooking method are the ones I would avoid.
Lastly we will be adding a slurry at towards the end of cooking, which will thicken up the broth to make our stew more "stew-like". A slurry is a combination of a thickening agent (we are using cornstarch) and water or cooking liquid (broth) to thicken a soup/broth/gravy. When mixing the slurry it should be relatively thin closer to water than wet sand. A slurry on the thinner side will incorporate more easily than a thick one. Basically, you'll avoid lumps!
1.5-2 lbs stewing beef
2-3 TBSP of all-purpose Flour
1 TBSP of Corn Starch
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 small/medium russet potatoes, skin on, cut into 1 inch pieces
3-4 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
3 medium carrots, roughly chopped (can be substituted with baby carrots cut in half)
1-32 oz box beef broth
1 cup drinkable red wine
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
- Add beef to a bowl and liberally season with salt and pepper.
- Cut up, potatoes, celery, and carrots, add to your crock pot.
- Add beef, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and onions.
- Cover with beef broth and wine
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook on low heat for 8 hours or high heat for 4.
- Towards the end of cooking (about 45-ish mins), take your tablespoon of cornstarch and mix with an equal amount of water or broth from stew. Add to pot and mix in.
- Remove bay leaf and thyme stems (if using fresh).
- Serve and enjoy!
Everyone in the pool!
Plugged in and ready to go
On high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours