Recipe: Beef Stew

On a cold winter night, there’s nothing better than a steaming bowl of humble beef stew.  Usually I just throw all the ingredients in the crock pot, but this time I took a few extra steps.  Boy, am I ever glad that I did.  This was hands-down the best stew I’ve ever made.  I usually use a packet of dry onion soup mix and a can of cream of mushroom soup, but this tastes waaaaay better, and you don’t end up with all those questionable chemicals/ingredients in the pre-boxed stuff.  The kids weren’t real thrilled when I set bowls of brown stuff before them for dinner (Princess Monster even commented that it looked “nasty”), but there were no complaints after the tasting began.  In fact everyone had seconds and there almost wasn’t enough for the grown ups to have lunch the next day!

Beef Stew

2-3 lbs stew meat, chopped into 1″ chunks
1/2 c. flour (for dredging, with salt and pepper to taste)
oil to brown the meat
1 onion, chopped (finely for me, because the kids always moan in despair if they get a chunk)
garlic cloves to taste (I think I used 5 – we like garlic!)
1 c. red wine
1 c. beef broth (I made mine with those nasty salty cubes because I didn’t have anything else on hand)
potatoes, carrots, peas, etc.  whatever your family will eat
salt, pepper to taste
bay leaf

Toss the chopped cubes of meat in the seasoned flour and brown in a little oil.  I used butter in my cast-iron skillet.  Keep the meat in a single layer and take the time to turn each piece to get it evenly browned.  The meat doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through.  After they’ve browned, drop the cubes into the waiting crockpot.

Add another T of oil in the same pan (to keep all those yummy fried bits) and cook the onion and garlic until softened and flavorful.  Spoon them into the crockpot and then deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring up the browned bits into the sauce.  Pour over the meat in the crockpot.

Add the chopped veggies and the broth.  You don’t need a lot of liquid since this is cooking in a crockpot (you don’t want the meat to “boil”) so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like “stew” yet.  As the veggies cook down, more flavor and liquids will release into the broth.  You can always add a bit more broth if desired, and if you end up with too much, add some cornstarch at the end.

Cook on low for 8 hours (or longer) or high for 6 hours until the meat is fall-apart tender.  Serve with buttered bread or biscuits. 

Pray you have enough for lunch tomorrow!

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