Monday, November 12, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Now that we've had a little bit of fall weather in LA, it's finally time to start using my slow cooker! The weather man said we are going to have a little mid-week heat wave so while it's still pretty chilly, I'm taking full advantage of my food possibilities. The first meal I knew I wanted to make was beef stew. Whenever we go camping with my dad, it is one of the meals he always makes. I've made it before on the stove and it was pretty darn good. That was a few years ago, so I can't remember his exact recipe. I googled a few and sort of created my own and I can tell you now that I refuse to leave the kitchen because of how good it smells. Bay leaves and Worcestershire sauce are fall smell staples and my house is starting to smell like a campground. I also added some good red wine to give it a real homey taste. Whenever you cook with wine, use one that you'd drink, never something crappy or that was on sale. Use something GOOD. Of course, I'm making a vegan version of this, too. Use veggie broth and beef-less tips instead of chicken broth and stew beef bits and cook in a covered pot for about 1 1/2-2 hours. Please, let the actual beef version cook for 10 hours!!! I know that seems like a long time but it will need that much time to thicken up! It smells just as good as the carnivorous version. Served with some fresh French bread and crunchy onions (you know, the ones that you put on top of the green bean casserole!!!) and you have a hearty and delicious fall dinner!

What you'll need:
2-3 lbs. beef for stew (any market will have but Costco is always the best value)
4 tbs. flour
1 carton low sodium chicken stock (beef will work too, but Trader Joe's was out of it)
1 cup GOOD red wine
2 large yellow onions, cut into chunky
1 cup baby carrots, cut in half
2 cups slices crimini mushrooms
1 bag frozen peas
6-8 gold potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
5 cloves garlic, pressed (or minced if you don't have a garlic press)
3 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs. tomato paste
2 branches fresh Rosemary
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh pepper]
Crunchy onions (you can leave this out but its just so darn good!!!)

1. Trim up your beef so there isn't TOO much fat left (leave SOME, it has amazing flavor). Toss with half of the flour in the bottom of the slow cooker (the excess flour will thicken the stew).
2. On top of the beef, pour the wine and the pressed garlic. Next, add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms onions, potatoes, and peas. Give it all a really good toss.
3. Pour in the chicken stock and the Worcestershire sauce and give it another really good mix. Finally, add the bay leaves, salt, pepper, tomato paste, and Rosemary branches.
4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours (yes, it will need 10 hours). About half way through, add the remaining 2 tbs. flour if you need it to thicken up a little more. (don't freak out if it doesn't thicken up a lot at this point. when there is 1 hour left, it'll thicken like CRAZY!!!)
5. Serve immediately with some crunchy onions and fresh bread!
enjoy :)

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