Butter, with a side of Bread // Easy family recipes and reviews.: THE BEST CROCKPOT BEEF STEW

Monday, January 7, 2013

THE BEST CROCKPOT BEEF STEW

The Best Crockpot Beef Stew: Butter with a Side of Bread

Much to my husband's displeasure, I could have soup or stew for dinner every night from November to March and be perfectly content. Seriously. Especially when it's so cold outside- warming up with a hot bowl of stew is just perfect. Lucky for him I do add more variety to our meals, however that doesn't take away from the fact that I adore stew!

A few years ago I began hunting down a really good beef stew recipe. I tried so many and none were quite right. Finally! I found one... only it wasn't really for Beef Stew, it was for Beef Bourgignon which is a more complicated, richer version of a classic stew.

At any rate-  I altered the recipe and the result is an easy, delicious beef stew that's made in the crockpot. I listed two methods for preparing this stew- to really get a nice, full flavor, I like to take about 15 minutes and do some pre-cooking on the stove. It's not necessary, but I encourage you to try both ways and see which one you like more.

The BEST Crockpot Beef Stew
Serves 8-10
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 lbs trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1-2-inch cubes, patted dry with paper towels
  • about 1/4 cup of flour {tossed with meat to coat}
  • 10-15 small red potatoes {mine were pretty small, I used 14, cut into 1/8ths since I was serving it to small children}
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced carrots {about 3 good sized carrots}
  • 2 cups sliced celery {about 2-3 stalks}
  • 1 cup of red cooking wine**
  • 1 cup beef stock or canned beef broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained {14.5 oz}
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 8-oz container of sliced mushrooms {optional}
  • meat tenderizer and about 2 tsp cornstarch
**If you don't have or don't like cooking with wine, you can use grape juice, apple juice or simply increase the beef broth to 2 cups instead. I use red cooking wine though- I think it adds a wonderful flavor! 
The Best Crockpot Beef Stew: Butter with a Side of Bread


Time Saving Tips:
The most time consuming part of making stew is chopping and dicing all the vegetables and meat. I take a lot of shortcuts here- I almost always have prepared homemade mirepoix {carrots-onion-celery} sliced and frozen. This saves a huge amount of time. 

Defrost the meat a few days before, then the night before, dice the meat into 1"-2" chunks and sprinkle a generous amount of seasoned meat tenderizer on it. I just put it all in a large zip lock bag so that I can mix the tenderizer up with the meat easily. 

Another task you can do the night before is to scrub and cut up the potatoes. The starch will cause them to darken, so make sure you submerge them in water to store them overnight. {I put them in a large tupperware, then just covered them with water- worked perfectly!}

So, you can do all this ahead of time... or the day you want to make it- it's up to you! 

The Best Crockpot Beef Stew: Butter with a Side of Bread

Quick Method for the Beef Stew:
Turn crockpot on low. Toss all vegetables and meat in the crockpot. Combine spices {except bay leaf}, oil, cooking wine, beef broth and whisk lightly to combine. Pour over meat and vegetables. Add in bay leaf. Give it all a light stir, cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours, medium 7-8 hours, high 6-7 hours. 

About 30 minutes prior to serving, ladle out about  1/2 cup of liquid from the stew. Whisk in 2 tsp cornstarch and add it back to the stew, stirring gently to combine. This helps thicken it up! If you want it even thicker, you can repeat this process once, waiting about 15 minutes between to double check thickness.

15-20 additional minutes method:
As I said before, this just gives the stew a better, more developed flavor. It's really not difficult, just a few extra steps but it goes fast. 

Put potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and celery in the crockpot. Have the beef broth and cooking wine measured out and ready.

Heat a frying pan up on high. Add in 2 TBSP oil. Add garlic. Once pan is hot, add beef. You're not trying to cook the meat all the way, you just want to sear it a bit. I let the meat cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring about twice. You want the meat on the bottom of the pan to brown and even coat the pan lightly.  Move meat into the crockpot. 

Do not wash the pan! The technical term here is deglazing- we're going to add liquid that will help loosen up and remove the flavorful meat remnants on the bottom of the pan. Return pan to hot stove top and add remaining 2 TBSP of oil. Once oil is hot, add in the onions. Wait about 3-4 minutes until the onions are beginning to be translucent and are sizzling. Add in cooking wine and beef broth. While the liquid is heating up, add in the spices, except the bay leaf. Once the liquid begins to boil, turn off the heat and pour entire mixture into the crockpot. 

Add mushrooms and bay leaf. Stir lightly to combine and cook on low for 9-10 hours, medium 7-8 hours, high 6-7 hours. 

About 30 minutes prior to serving, ladle out about  1/2 cup of liquid from the stew. Whisk in 2 tsp cornstarch and add it back to the stew, stirring gently to combine. This helps thicken it up! If you want it even thicker, you can repeat this process once, waiting about 15 minutes between to double check thickness.

ENJOY!

The Best Crockpot Beef Stew: Butter with a Side of Bread
Searing beef prior to putting it in the crockpot.
The Best Crockpot Beef Stew: Butter with a Side of Bread
Deglazing pan. Fancy word, but it's super easy, trust me! 
The Best Crockpot Beef Stew: Butter with a Side of Bread
Everything is in the crockpot, ready to cook! 
The Best Crockpot Beef Stew: Butter with a Side of Bread
It's DONE! Mmmm... smells divine! 
The Best Crockpot Beef Stew: Butter with a Side of Bread
Recipe linked to:
Mandy's Recipe Box  // Skip to My Lou // Six Sisters Stuff //  The Girl Creative  //  A Thrifty Mom
Funky Polka Dot Giraffe  //  Our Thrifty Ideas  //  SNAP the Conference  // Creations by Kara
Southern Lovely // The Dedicated House // Love Bakes Good Cakes // The 36th Avenue // Delightful Order

59 comments:

  1. I've got a question, what is meat tenderizer, where is it found, and is it necessary? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Meat tenderizer can be found in the spice section of most food stores- I'm from the South and they have it at Kroger and Walmart here!- its a combination of things and it is white in color. I use it on meats that I'm going to be slow roasting and let it sit on there for about 30mins with the other spices I'm wanting to use- hope that helps!!

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    2. Here are some great tips for meat tenderizers you would have in your home everyday, from tea and coffee to beer and buttermilk. And it explains how they work. I have to say yogurt is one of my favorites. Enjoy!

      http://tipnut.com/tenderizers-work/

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    3. Meat tenderizers usually have MSG which many people have an allergic reaction to, causing headaches and migraines. Instead use salt and pepper mixed with the flour before you sear the meat. If you need to tenderize the meat, use a wooden mallet made for that purpose.

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  2. Looks really yummy! I'm going to try this one.

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  3. Alexis- GREAT question! Meat tenderizer is found in the spices/ seasoning section at any grocery store. It comes seasoned and unseasoned- I like the seasoned variety. It has quite a bit of salt, so you'll find I don't add any additional to this recipe. It's super cheap- I got mine at Walmart for less than $1.

    One of my biggest pet peeves with stew is tough meat. I think stew meat should be super tender! Even if you use a cheap cut, slow cooking it all day should help with tenderness, but adding meat tenderizer the night before really helps out too.

    So is it necessary.... no, I guess not. But I'd never make it without it! I probably shake the equivalent of 2-3 teaspoons over the meat the night before and let it sit.

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  4. Well you learn something new every day! I'll have to look for it, thanks!

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  5. Why the asterisks with the red wine? Is it optional? A certain brand?

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  6. All8- ha! Thank you for your comment- I make the asterik, then forgot to add the note! I went back and added it- here it is:

    **If you don't have or don't like cooking with wine, you can use grape juice, apple juice or simply increase the beef broth to 2 cups instead. I use red cooking wine though- I think it adds a wonderful flavor!

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  7. Sounds delicious! Can't wait to try it!

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  8. This looks wonderful! I just made beef stew in my crock pot last night and it was cozy and good! I like your recipe a lot!
    Blessings,,
    Leslie

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  9. Found you through Pinterest - this recipe looks fantastic!!! I'm planning on making it very soon! I was hoping to get some input from you on something though...my boyfriend is very opposed to the texture of tomatoes; do you think there is anyway I could take out the can of drained diced tomatoes or replace them with something else and still maintain the deliciousness of the stew? Let me know what you think.

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    Replies
    1. Krista,
      I see that your question is not answered as of today so I thought I would post my opinion on this. I have never added tomatoes to my beef stew, but I do use them when I make a veggie-beef soup or stew.
      I don't think you really need to, but if you want to substitute, I suggest you use a few (3-4) tablespoons of tomato paste. I have seen tons of stew recipes that use paste and sometimes I use it, sometimes not. It does seem to add some depth to the stew.
      If you open a can of tomato paste and don't want to waste the remainder, scoop it out into tablespoon size balls and freeze it on a sheet of wax paper. Then once it is frozen you can throw it in a ziploc to keep in the freezer for future use. When you need it again, it is there already measured, just take out what you need.

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  10. Thank you! I have a freezer full of meat I need to use and am hunting for recipes. I"m in the process of swapping my uncooked foods in one freezer (that needs to defrost) with cooked meals in the other. I look forward to trying this recipe ... sans bay as my mother hates bay :(

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  11. Wow it's looking delicious, but I like your time consuming fact, Today I'll try to cook for my wife. stew recipes

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  12. This is hands down THE best beef stew my girlfriend and I have ever had. Thank you for posting!

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  13. I have a question about the flour. Is it tossed with the meat tenderizer and beef the night before, or added to the stew the next day?

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    Replies
    1. Chris- it really doesn't matter, I've done it both ways. I usually toss the flour in with it right before I cook it in the skillet though- so before I add it to the stew the next day.

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  14. WOW! This is really an amazing and attractive post about well described recipe of beef stew. I appreciate your posted wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing such an interesting post. Cowboy Hats

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  15. I made this today and it was awesome!

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  16. I made this morning for the first time and was rushing as I had to leave for work. I tenderized the night before, did the extra deglazing step, however I forgot to coat the meat with flour. If I do the extra two cornstarch steps at end, can I salvage the meal? How important was that for the gravy? My family likes a thicker gravy, so any suggestions to fix this would be great.

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    Replies
    1. D- if you do the cornstarch steps at the end you should be just fine!! ;) ENJOY! We're actually having it for dinner tonight as well!

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  17. This recipe does not even come close to fitting in my oval crockpot! I did the measurements exactly, used 10 small red potatoes, etc. Had to pull out a bunch of ingredients and still could barely get the top on. Maybe you should indicate what size your crockpot is? From the photo, it looks HUGE, and I wish I had paid attention to that. Still looking forward to a delicious dinner though.

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    Replies
    1. Just put in half of the recipe and save the rest for the next day.

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  18. If I don't tenderize the night before and if I don't brown in the skillet, do I still toss the meat in flour before adding to the crockpot?

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    Replies
    1. I would say no, don't add it. The flour is to help brown the meat when you put it in skillet, and to thicken the gravy at the end, but you can do that with corn starch.

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  19. Thanks very much for this recipe, everything turned out wonderful for me. I especially appreciate the night-before tips, as I'm not pro in the kitchen.
    I did the extra time method, and I think it's definitely worth it. I didn't have "cooking wine" but I did have nice bottle of Garnacha. It's definitely noticeable and adds a nice touch; however, I can't help but wonder how it would have turned out using a less dry/"potent" wine or a normal red cooking wine.
    Thanks again!

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  20. My husband made this for dinner tonight and I thickened the sauce when I got home. Everyone loved it!

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  21. I want to try this recipe but switch the beef for venison... Would I need to change anything if I made that switch?

    Thanks!!!!

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    Replies
    1. as venison is so lean I would increase the oil by half.

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  22. We have this on the stove on low now. It was too much for the crock pot size we have. I am enjoying the aroma of the allspice as it simmers! We'be made alot of stewa and this one I know is going to be the best! It smells INCREDIBLE. We're having a loaf of italian bread on the side.

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  23. Cold weather is right around the corner, and I just found your recipe. Quick question: what can cooks do to keep veggies crisp-tender when crock-pot cooking this stew? My carrots, onions and celery end up with a consistency more akin to mush than something healthy.

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  24. Mine has been in the crockpot for 5 hours. I just got home and my house smells amazing! I can't wait to try it. I don't feel like mine has enough liquid in it. There broth on mine is a much lower level than in your pics. I can't decide if I should add another can of broth or just let it go. Either way, I can tell it will be delicious! Thanks!

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  25. @LindaMarie, Did this today, I added more broth because I was worried about fluid level too. Will be done in about 20 minutes but smells incredible and I keep stealing vegetables from it. Absolutely delicious, better than my mother's!

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  26. You are my new favorite cooking blog! And I am NOT one to read blogs. This is roasting in my crockpot right now! Thank you!!

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  27. LOL- so glad you took a chance on us Mrs. Swanson! ;) I hope you enjoy your stew!

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  28. I was reading the post about the vegies possibly being a little too mushy. Did yours get that way and should I just cut the vegies bigger? Thanks. I hope to make this for my boyfriend and I. We are both in school and hope to have an easy day. And crock pot cooking seems ideal for that :)

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  29. This is my second time making this recipe, and I love it. This time I added 3/4 pound of frozen corn. ;-)

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  30. Just ate my first bowl, and oh is it delicious! I had the same issue with the size of my crock pot, luckily I have two, so just grabbed the second one and fired them both up. Thanks for the great recipe, allowed a novice hubby cook like myself to make many great meals for my wife and I!

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  31. Of all things, I had no thyme and no allspice on hand. That never happens! Subbed herbs de Provence and I can't stop going over to smell the crock pot. I think my wife and kids are going to love this.

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  32. I'm so glad you all are enjoying the recipe! :)

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  33. I cooked this today and it came out absolutely delicious. I did the long version where I browned the meat in the pan and then put it in the crock pot.

    My 8 year old boy who is picky ate it like a wolf and couldn't stop bragging about it while eating it. That says a lot.

    Great recipe and will cook it again for sure.

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  34. Made this tonight. Turned out amazing! Thank you so much. Happened to stumble upon you while googling recipes. Will definitely make again.

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  35. I made this last night and it was GREAT! I make beef stew in a crock pot all the time because I think it is a smart idea to stretch a $ and get a lot of nutrients. I did not have any red wine so I left that out but it was still terrific. I have never grilled the onions first before but the extra steps are worth it. And the allspice added some very nice and different flavor! I don't use corn starch because I try to avoid GMO but I use tapioca flour or organic potato starch instead. VERY GOOD!

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  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  37. This looks yummy- can't wait to try it! Can you add your crockpot size when you get a chance? That would be super helpful. Thanks!

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  38. @ Jessica Williams
    As there are some variants in seasoned meat tenderizers, what flavor base is the one you use? I do use other forms of meat tenderizers, like home made marinade bases, so I was checking what seasonings are in your seasoned meat tenderizer.

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  39. I'm making this right now. I didn't have wine so I just doubled on the broth. Can't wait. Thank you for the recipe

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  40. As I was searching for a crockpot beef stew recipe to see if I could get a fresh idea/inspiration I just had to click on your link because I just loved the title of your blog :). Thanks for sharing your recipe.

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  41. Jessica, this is the first pinterest recipe I've tried! Like you, I have a favorite beef bourguignon recipe but it requires a lot of time at home while it's
    cooking on the stovetop. My very particular family and I enjoyed this meal very much. Your recipe was clear and easy to follow. I chose the
    longer method and the results were wonderful. I'll be looking for more of your recipes. What's for dinner tomorrow night? Lolly

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  42. Looks fabulous. I tried it and the sauce was my favorite part. You are right. The red wine adds a wonderful taste. Thanks for the idea.

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  43. Looks awesome....I'm looking forward to having this simmer in my crock pot all day tomorrow. Quick question, can I do the Browning and deglazing step today, combine everything, and return to the fridge until tomorrow? This would save me some time in the morning.

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    Replies
    1. I've never done the browning/ deglazing steps early like that, Jessica, but you know, it's worth a shot?? I like to do those steps to incorporate the added flavor deglazing brings...so if you have to do it the night before or not at all, I say do it the night before. Let me know how it turns out! (I think it will still be fantastic!)

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  44. It's been a long cold winter and even though daylight savings time started today, there's no sign of spring yet!
    Was looking for an awesome slow-cooker recipe when I came upon this one. From what I've read in this blog, it should be fantastic.
    To perk up the flavor a bit, I added about a cup of Merlot!

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    1. I hear ya, medicineman! We have snow forecasted for this week... sigh. Bring on the Beef Stew!

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  45. I stumbled across this blog yesterday while looking for some ideas to add a new twist to an old dish. the allspice is what intrigued me. I've used wine, tomatoes and such before and the added richness they bring really compliments the beef. I prepped everything last night and it's in the slow cooker now. I eyeballed the amounts of everything as I was prepping last night and when assembling this morning was pleased to see that everything just fit into my 6 quart cooker. I did add extra liquid, in fact I doubled the wine and quadrupled the broth as I wanted more gravy for the final product. I used fresh mushrooms, as I find the canned variety to be unpleasant tasting, and fresh herbs. I only use dry when I have no choice. there was a post earlier on that someones husband didn't like the texture of tomatoes, I used crushed tomatoes which should break down completely by the time this is done. I don't think I would eliminate them. I'm looking forward to enjoying this tonight, and hope to update with my results later.

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  46. Saw this on Pinterest and decided to toss it all in the slow cooker today. I didn't have any red wine, so I subbed apple juice which should add an interesting flavor. And I've never seen a beef stew recipe that called for allspice before. I'm really looking forward to dinner tonight!

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  47. I made this beef stew yesterday. I agree it is the best crock pot beef stew recipe out there. The allspice is a key ingredient. I've never used an entire cup of red wine in a stew before but it gave it a wonderful flavor. I have experimented with beef stew recipes my entire adult life and so far, I like this one the best. This recipe is a keeper.

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