Saturday, March 16, 2013

Slow cooker beef stew

Sadly, I don't have a final photo for this beef stew. But beef stew is ugly, and everybody knows what it looks like. Chunks of meat in a fairly-dark broth, nothing special there. So instead of beef stew, enjoy a photo of the view from our conference room at work I Instagramed a while back.

I do have some of the step-by-step photos of this stew though, which was soooooo good. Yes, it's a slow cooker beef stew, but I'll be honest: it still took quite a bit of prep time. Why? Well, first of all, its a Cooks Illustrated recipe, so of course they have a million and one steps. But there's a reason for that, and that's the final product-- which is absolutely delicious. It's not watered down or flavorless or mushy. It's all perfectly cooked with meaty and hearty flavors. Just the way a beef stew should taste.

The advantage of using the slow cooker is that you can prepare it the night before and cook it the next morning. Or prepare it in the morning and let it cook all day when you're out and about running errands.

So what goes into the prep work? Well, onions get chopped and sauteed.

And root vegetables get chopped and wrapped in a foil packet (so that they steam in the slow cooker instead of turn to mush in the liquid)

Finally, your beef gets coated in spices.

Throw the whole shebang into your slow cooker, and this sucker is ready to cook!

But make sure not to forget your veggie packet!

Buen Provecho,

Slow-Cooker Beef Stew, from The Best Slow and Easy Recipes (Americas Test Kitchen)
Serves 6 to 8

My favorite chicken and beef broths are the Better than Bouillon, which are a thick paste that require refrigeration. I find them just as delicious, and more convenient (and cheaper) than boxed broth.


3 TBSP vegetable oil
4 medium onions, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 TBSP)
1 TBSP minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 TBSP Minute tapioca
2 bay leaves
1 (5 lb) boneless beef chuck eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2" pieces
ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
1 pound carrots (about 6 medium), peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1" pieces, optional
2 cups frozen peas, optional

  1. Heat 2 TBSP of the oil in a 12" nonstick skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, tomato paste, garlic, thyme, and 1/4 tsp salt and cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened and lightly browned, about 1 - 12 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits.
  2. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker and stir in the beef broth, soy sauce, tapicoa, and bay leaves until evenly combined. Season the beef with salt and pepper, and nestle it in the slow cooker.
  3. Toss the potatoes, carrots, and remaining 1 TBSP oil together and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the vegetables in a foil packet, as described: place the vegetables on one side of a large piece of foil. Fold the foil over, shaping it into a packet that will fit into your slow cooker, then crimp to seal the edges. 
  4. Set the vegetable packet on top of the stew in the slow cooker. Cover and cook, either on low or high until the meat is tender, 9 to 11 hr on low or 5 to 7 hr on high.
  5. Transfer the vegetable packet to a plate. Let the cooking liquid settle for 5 minutes, then gently tilt the slow cooker and remove as much fast as possible from the surface using a large spoon. Remove the bay leaves. Carefully open the foil packet (watch for steam) and stir the vegetables, along with any accumulated juices, into the stew. Stir in the peas, if using, and let stand until the peas are heated through, about 5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.


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