Recipe: Crock Pot Beef Stew

It’s time for another recipe! First, the recipe. Then, me blathering onward about my occasionally questionable culinary capabilities and the memories this particular feast holds for me.

  • The Ingredients
    • 6 slices of bacon, finely chopped (optional)
    • 3 lbs lean stewing beef/boneless beef chuck, cubed to 1/2 inch
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups beef or vegetable stock
    • 1 tablespoon black Hawaiian salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
    • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
    • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
    • 1 large white onion, chopped
    • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
    • 3 medium carrots, chopped
    • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms (button or shiitake), sliced
    • 1 pound baby potatoes chopped OR regular red potatoes, chopped
    • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
    • 1/2 cup dry red wine that you are willing to drink
    • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (to taste, it is a salt adjuster)
    • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
    • 2 bay leaves
  • The Way of Preparing
    1. In the largest skillet you have, render the bacon until crisp. Toss it into the slow cooker with it on low.
    2. Season the beef cubes with the salt and pepper. Brown each side for two minutes or so. Tongs are your friend for this.
    3. Let the meat cool completely to room temperature. It will help it stay Move the browned meat to the slow cooker/crock pot.
    4. Add the butter to the skillet and let it melt. Whisk in the flour to make a light to medium roux. Whisk in the wine (or substitute for such) and make sure to get all the toasty bits off the sides of the pan.
    5. Add the stock a half cup at a time, whisking thoroughly; be sure to save the last half cup of broth. Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce by about half. Add the tomato sauce and whisk to combine.
    6. To the slow cooker/crock pot add the onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, and garlic.
    7. Pour the thickened sauce into the crock pot carefully. Please don’t burn yourself!
    8. Stir well to combine, adding the bay leaves once mixed.
    9. Into the reserved cup of stock add the garlic powder, onion powder, ground sage, thyme, and rosemary. Add this to the crock pot and stir well.
    10. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 6-8 hours.
  • Notes
    • It is always better the second day. More time to mellow, I guess?
    • If you don’t like using wine, use any dark cola: root beer, Dr. Pepper, Coke, etc. Cherry Coke has been my go-to for a long while now for it.
    • Serve this over mashed potatoes, rice, or with buttered bread.
    • You can add just about any canned or frozen veggies to this to stretch it further
    • I love adding sweet corn to, it as well as water chestnuts

So! Ninety-nine percent of you have no idea what this recipe means to me. And since I’m a Hobbit hole away from being a Baggins, I like to give others gifts on my birthday. Well, it’s my birth month so here’s your gift: my secret beef stew recipe!

My family was transient for a long, long time. Ridiculously long. And we had a lot of mouths to feed. My mother (hi, Eema, coz I know you’re likely reading this!) was damn good at making food stretch for my brothers. There were and are a few recipes I am well known for. My Cheese Stuffed Shells are one of them. Beef Stew is another. I always claimed I didn’t do anything special to it. And there were times that was true: I didn’t do anything special because I just threw in whatever the hell we had available to make a meal.

This particular stew is pretty damn flexible. I have been known to add green, yellow, and red peppers to anything that will sit still long enough to let me do so. I’ve also added diced tomatoes and red kidney beans to it to help it stretch further. I’ve used chicken and just added fajita seasonings and a lot of cheddar cheese to it, but I wasn’t crazy about that particular variant.

Play Queen for the first hour or so it’s cooking and sing along. It always seems to taste better when I do. Don’t ever play frickin’ Enya. You’ll food coma out twenty minutes after your second bowl.

At least two of my brothers could probably conjure up memories of me cursing at a crock pot while making this. I always seemed to find the damn side of the hot crock pot. And the sauce? I always manage to splatter myself. It was a recipe that nearly mandated the use of a liberated work apron. But it is a hearty meal, no matter what. As I’ve gotten older, and watched far too many cooking shows, I’ve started to serve this over mashed potatoes.

Or maybe I just love potatoes?

It could be both: over exposure to different presentations as well as a mild addiction to most of the edible nightshade family members (tobacco notwithstanding), except for goji berries. I think they’re weird. But I’ll eat the hell out of potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and most peppers!

For those of you that have read this far, here’s the secrets as to why my beef stew always tastes different when someone else makes it: to the beef stock, whisk in the following: 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, 2 beef bullion cubes, a dash of Tabasco, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and a 2 count drip of clover honey. If you’re using soda rather than wine, omit the honey.

Now you know my secret to my beef stew. When we were transient, it was root beer, not red wine; and root beer is always my go-to so I can guiltlessly drink the rest of it!

How did this recipe work out for you?

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