Slow Cooker Comfort Food: Beef Stew

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Love in a Bowl of Comforting Beef Stew

One of my favorite things about fall/winter is the cozy feeling of being tucked in for the night. You’ve worked all day, it’s chilly outside, maybe even dark … Your people are home or on their way … maybe snow is coming tomorrow. The soulful aroma permeating your home from this beef stew tells you everything is right with the world. It makes you think someone has been tending to, caring for, preparing for and anticipating your homecoming. This simple slow cooker recipe is, quite frankly, that feeling of “I’m safe and sound and surrounded by love” in a bowl.

Turn on your slow cooker and come home to the best bowl of stew you’ve had in a very long time

Comfort Beef Stew

Will you make that beef stew tonight?

My kids ask this every time it even thinks about getting cold. It’s one of our standard cold weather recipes. We love being snuggled in slurping away. When I make this and homemade bread … Oh my – We are happy, happy people.

It just doesn’t seem right that a meal so satisfying takes so little effort …

And yet, it is.

However, there are a few things that make this stew work. Otherwise, tweak it and make it your own.

The vinegar, the bay leaves, the beef consomme’ and maybe the brown sugar are must-haves. I’ve made it with every manner of substitutions, so I know that without those key ingredients it’s a perfectly serviceable beef stew, it’s just not this beef stew. And this beef stew will likely ruin you for other beef stews. You have been warned.

  • Red wine isn’t sturdy enough to replace the vinegar.  It works, but it yields a milder end result.
  • Bay leaves impart a robust, earthy, deep flavor of the broth. You will miss them if you know what it tastes like with them. I made it once without them – now I check to make sure I have some.
  • Beef consomme’ comes in a can and you find it in the soup aisle. It has a smoother, silkier, richer flavor than beef broth. It’s worth hunting down. Unless you have homemade beef bone broth. (Recipe for bone broth will be forthcoming.)

I usually throw everything (even if it’s frozen which the beef and peas usually are) in the slow cooker before I go to work. Sometimes I’ll “build” it in the ceramic insert of my slow cooker the night before and refrigerate it. The temperature change from refrigerator to slow-cooking has never damaged the crock pot.

The only thing this meal needs is good bread.

The broth is so flavorful, so earthy, so slurpable, it literally begs to be sopped up by rustic bread. Buy some or make your own. Find a no-knead recipe here –  to make the rolls, just form it into large golf balls or small tennis balls instead of loaves and plop into a greased dish.

no-knead homemade bread rolls
No-knead dough after the second rise
Homemade no-knead bread recipe
Homemade dinner rolls

Beef Stew

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 8
Put everything in your crockpot and let it cook 8 - 10 hours.
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Ingredients

  • 3 pounds beef stew meat
  • 1 can beef consommé
  • 1 cup water or use 2 cups homemade bone broth
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes with their liquid
  • 6 medium carrots roughly chopped, or one small bag of baby carrots
  • 1 12 - 16 oz bag of frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar or some combination thereof
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 leaves bay
  • 1 Tbs Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Fresh parsley and minced red onion for garnish

Instructions

  1. Put everything in your slow cooker and stir to combine. Analyze ratios and see if you want more carrots, peas, tomatoes, etc. (It is hard to have too many peas.)
  2. Set your slow cooker for 8 - 10 hours on low.
  3. Garnish with fresh parsley and minced red onions.

  4. Serve with a sturdy, rustic bread suitable for dipping in the broth.

Recipe Notes

You can use canned peas. Consider other vegetables such as green beans. If you add potatoes, add them near the end of cooking. They will turn into mush if they start with everything else. Chopped fresh onion and chopped fresh garlic are nice touches. I've decided the powdered stuff tastes great and leaves nothing to clean up, so powdered garlic and onion it is. Some people like to use a bag of frozen pearl onions. I intend to one day use a larger cut of beef and sear it before dumping everything in the slow cooker. 

There are so many ways to make this stew your own - here are a few from my readers/friends. Add mushrooms. Use fire-roasted tomatoes instead of stewed tomatoes. Get your stew meat in large chunks and sear it. Serve it over barley, rice, egg noodles, or tortellini. 

Beef Stew, Comfort food, slow cooker
Hard to know what’s better, the broth, the carrots, or the beef …

 

4 Comments

  1. This was the perfect dish for Christmas Day! I was able to enjoy time with my family while the crockpot did the cooking. My house smelled amazing everyone was able to enjoy a delicious hot meal at the end of the day while enjoying a movie. I made it exactly as directed and it was wonderful! I’ll be making it again soon.

  2. Josie-do you think I could freeze this in portions for a rotating family shift of helpers for the upcoming fall and winter months (in Chicago)? How about your white chili? I’m going up there for my stint soon and looking for any of your great ideas please 🙂
    Teri Pope

    1. Hi Teri! The beef stew freezes well – just start with never-frozen beef. As for white chili … it’s to come! Hope Chicago goes well, My Friend!

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