Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Crock Pot Beef Stew

First off, let me tell you - this is no ordinary beef stew. I know you are probably thinking, beef stew, woopdie doo. Wow, that rhymed. Totally not intentional. Seriously though, this beef stew has tons of rich, deep flavor and the best part, it only takes a few minutes to prepare and then you throw it in your crock pot and let it do all the hard work. Crock pots are amazing and if you don't have one in your kitchen, go out and get one. I don't see you running. I said go get one! 

I had one for a few years that my sister picked up for me at Target. It wasn't the best one, but I really wanted it so I had her pick it up for me when she was running errands. Ya, I make impulse decisions when it comes to cooking gadgets. Oops. It did the trick, but when Costco had a better one on sale (costco coupons!), I couldn't pass it up. It has a timer, so all I have to do is set it and forget it. When it's done, it stays on warm so whatever I am making doesn't get overcooked and stays warm until I get home from work. Maybe this is just me, but I believe it is truly something everyone should have in their kitchen. Even better, you can usually find a pretty decent one for under $50! Here is the one I picked up and so far so good. Nothing overcooked and everything has turned out pretty delicious:

Okay, back to stew. This recipe was given to me by my super awesome mom. Seriously, my mom is cooler than yours. Just saying. Okay, stew. I don't recall the first time she ever made this, but I do remember the last time and lets just say, my sisters friend Daniel had multiple large servings of this. It has to be good then, right? Right! This is originally a stove top recipe by Better Homes and Garden and because my mom is totally awesome, she converted this one to a crock pot so dinner would be waiting for her instead of her waiting for dinner. Plus, who really wants to baby sit a pot of stew after a long day of work. Not me. Of course, if crock pots aren't your thing, you can of course do this one on the stove. No problems with that. Just plan on it taking a couple of hours to cook.

When cooking beef in the crock pot, one of the best ways to impart flavor in the whole dish is usually to brown the meat first. Not all recipes call for this, but some do. If the recipe you are using says to do it - DO IT. Do not skip this step because all that brown goodness you are getting =  flavor central. Trust me. For this one, all you do is take the stew meat and toss it in a big ziploc bag with the seasonings and a little bit of flour. Give it a good shake to coat everything and the brown the meat. If your pan is a little small, do this in batches. You do not want to overcrowd the pan. We want browning, not steaming! Once the meat is browned, you are basically almost done. Throw it in the crock pot with the carrots, onions, beef broth, wine and other goodness and you are good to go. Put the lid on and about 8 hours later, you have a fantastic stew ready for you. It's perfect any day of the week, but especially perfect for a rainy and dreary day like today. This stew is perfect served over roasted garlic mashed potatoes or even creamy polenta. Totally filling and totally delicious. If you're lucky, I may tell you how to make those mashed potatoes at the end of this post. I said if you were lucky.

ingredients. I cut up my onion and carrots the night before so I could just throw it in and go.

see, told you I used a ziploc!

browning the meat. I cut my stew meat into more bite sized pieces, but that's totally up to you if you want to do that too.

browned meat. you are not looking to fully cook here, just brown on all sides.

everyone into the pool!

top view of the stew. I really wish I would have remembered to take a picture when it was done and served. Oh well. Just close your eyes and imagine.

Crock Pot Beef Stew (adapted by my mom from http://www.bhg.com)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds boneless beef chuck steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 cups sliced yellow or white onion
1 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 14oz can beef broth
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
8 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup tomato paste

Place flour, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a plastic bag. Add meat pieces, a few at a time, shaking to coat. In a large pan, brown meat, half at a time, in hot olive oil. Once browned, add meat to crock pot and add chopped onion, rosemary, garlic, carrots, beef broth, red wine and tomato paste. Stir to combine, cover and cook on low for about 8 hours.

Okay, guess I have to tell you how to make the roasted garlic mashed potatoes.  Bring cubed red potatoes (skin on) to a boil. Cook until fork tender. Drain and then place back in the hot pot and mash. Add in sour cream (more if you like it creamier), a little butter, salt, pepper and then the roasted garlic. You can learn how to make roasted garlic here! Mix until desired consistency and serve with the beef stew. Yum!


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