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Cold weather has been hard for us to come by this winter. And…yes…I am complaining about it. As much as I hate being cold all of the time, I also feel that nature needs that period of rest to recuperate from the ravages of heat and bugs and humidity. It cannot and should not always be Summer.
But I have no control over the weather. All I can do is experience it and enjoy the fleeting cold winter days when they do make an appearance.
I can nearly hear all of the beach bunnies out there groaning at my praise of the cold weather, but there is nothing more comforting than a thick hearty stew on a cold, dreary, snow-covered day. To be able to put on your biggest, warmest, most comfortable clothes, curled in your biggest, most comfortable chair with a bowl of warm stew in your lap and a good book waiting for you to continue when you finish your supper.
Of course, I should really be much more realistic. It has to come a pretty good snow for the majority of adults in the world to just enjoy a snow day. Most of us have to pull on all of our warm things and trudge through the slush and the frozen wonderland to work. And unfortunately, many of us do not have the luxury of staying home all day and nursing a pot of braising beef stew in the oven. This is where the slow-cooker shines.
I have well-documented mixed feelings about slow cookers. THere are many things that I refuse to subject to it’s long and drawn out cooking times, but traditionally long cooking meats is not one of them. The problem with beef stew in the crock pot is mushy vegetables. In a traditional beef stew, you wouldn’t add the vegetables until the stew was nearly finished. That way the carrots and potatoes still have tooth and texture, giving the stew much more interest (and, quite frankly, more nutrition). I found the solution to this problem in an America’s Test Kitchen recipe where the vegetables were put into a foil packet and set on the top of the meat in the slow cooker. Essentially steaming them and then stirring them into the stew before serving. I’ve done this a couple of times with pretty amazing results. It is probably the secret to this stew and what sets it apart from all others.
- 4 lb boneless beef chuck-eye roast cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- salt and pepper
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions chopped fine
- 2 ribs of celery chopped fine
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 2 leaves bay
- 1 lb carrots peeled and cut into large chunks
- 5 medium potatoes cut into large chunks
- Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sear the beef (you will probably need to work in batches) on all sides then transfer to the slow cooker.
- Add the onions, celery and garlic to the pan and saute until they begin to soften. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Pour in the wine and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. Stir the cornstarch into the beef broth and add that to the slow cooker as well as the Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves.
- Wrap the chopped potatoes and carrots in a foil packet and nestle that on top of the stew. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 6-8 hours. Serve and enjoy!