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.
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
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.
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 with Mushrooms and Kalamata Olives
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lb boneless, beef chuck roast trimmed and cubed
- black pepper
- 1 onion chopped
- 8 oz mushrooms (sliced)
- 5 clove garlic halved
- 2 tsp herbes de Provence
- 15 oz tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 cup Kalamata olives or other salty black olives
- In a large nonstick skillet heat the oil until shimmering. Add the beef cubes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides and remove to the crock of a 5 quart slow cooker.
- In the drippings left in the pan, sauté the onion, mushrooms, and garlic until the onions are clear and the mushrooms start to brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the herbes de Provence and season with salt and pepper. Transfer this mixture to the crock.
- Add the tomato sauce, water, and bay leaf to the crock, stirring gently to combine. Cook on LOW heat for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours. Right before serving, stir in the olives. Serve hot.