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Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Olives

Want a dinner you can set and forget? Stir up a batch of this Slow Cooker Beef Stew for a hearty, flavorful supper any night of the week. 

Slow Cooker Beef Stew | Good Cheap Eats

We all have busy days, don’t we? Or days when we just don’t want to do anything. Lazy days, jam-packed days, it doesn’t really matter. It’s always nice when dinner is ready without a lot of work and hassle. That’s when the slow cooker can come in super handy.

Now, I’m kind of a slow cooker snob. I prefer to saute the meats and aromatics before I add them to the crock. I don’t like those dump freezer meals that look like science experiments floating in formaldehyde. I don’t like soggy vegetables.

But, I still love my slow cooker. This Slow Cooker Beef Stew is only one of the many reasons.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew is one of the easiest techniques to master but it has an infinite number of variations and twists that you can add in order to make it something new and fun every time.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew | Good Cheap Eats

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Here are my basic rules to making great slow cooker beef stew:

1. Use a chuck roast that you trim and cut yourself. Don’t buy anything labeled, “stew meat”. It usually doesn’t work out right. Buy a roast and cut into cubes yourself. A sharp knife helps.

2. Brown the meat in a bit of fat. In a hot pan sizzle the meat cubes in some fat, oil, butter, bacon drippings. This helps caramelize the meat and increase the depth of flavor. (Yes, it’s worth washing the pan for.)

3. Saute the aromatics. But before you wash that pan, toss in a sliced onion and some mushrooms or other aromatics and saute them in the drippings. This ups the flavor and helps the texture of your onions. No crunchy onions, please.

4. Add spices, herbs, and a bit of liquid. Here’s where you can get all creative and switch up the flavor profile. You don’t need to make it the same way every time, unless you want to. You’ve got a whole range of herbs and spices to draw from (think southwestern, Italian, classic American, or Indian) and you can mix things up by using a variety of different liquids and combinations thereof: wine, beer, ale, water, broth, juice, or tomato sauce.

5. Add vegetables according to their cooking times. Potatoes take longer to cook than zucchini. If you add them at the same time, one is going to be rather mushy and your picky kid won’t eat it. Ask me how I know. Either cook the veg separately and add it at the end, or choose vegetables that can hold up to long simmering.

So, that’s basically, how I approach slow cooker beef stew. I have several favorite versions, like this one doused in Guinness and this one just like Saint Patrick would have eaten.

Today, I’m laying a new one on you. This one’s got a little Provencal twist to it: tomatoes, mushrooms, salty black olives, and my homemade herbes de Provence blend. I love it served over mashed potatoes, but it’s also super tasty over rice, hot cooked noodles, boiled potatoes, cauliflower rice, or zoodles. The stew is naturally gluten- and dairy-free so it fits a number of food styles. Leftovers stretch really well into soup.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew | Good Cheap Eats

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Comments

  1. Jessica,

    Have you ever tried the Instant Pot? You can saute your meat right in the pot and then set it to cook on the slow cooker setting. Only one pot to clean and it’s dishwasher safe.

    • I have a Power Cooker (which is the same thing), but I haven’t used its slow cook setting yet. I use it for perfect rice, though. Thanks for the reminder!

      • I am an Instant Pot devotee! Although I found that it doesn’t do the rice as well as a proper rice cooker, the sauté function is glorious. Fry up the good stuff, and let t go! It’s great when I’ve forgotten dinner and I only have 30mins to get dinner on; the pressure cooker makes me so happy : D

        Jessica, I’d love your ideas on how to adapt your slow cooker meals for an electric pressure cooker. Any tips? Thanks a mill!

  2. Looks good! I love using my slow cooker. There are a few meals that turn out great but so often they are mushy and tasteless.

    • I find that you really can’t let them go all day. Some recipes, like chicken, need much less time. I rarely do vegetable dishes because of the mush factor.

  3. Made this in my crockpot – could only find a 2 3/4 pound chuck roast so went ahead and used it and this turned out fantastic. Will use the left overs for nachos. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe !

  4. Audra Taylor says:

    Jessica, I just love these recipes. I have Good Cheap Eats and was reading it this morning over breakfast! I am going to try the stew next week, so hearty and excellent tips to make it tasty.

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