Hearty Beef Stew {Slow Cooker}

Let me start by asking a really important, earth-shattering question. Is there anyone out there who has the same addiction and love for carrots that have been cooked with a succulent roast dinner? A Sunday roast dinner, as it was with my family growing up? Anyone? Anyone? In my great Book of Opinions, carrots cooked in the flavorful juices of a delicious roast are incomparable. I could eat 83 of them and still go back for more.

Well, I’m happy to announce that this slow cooker beef stew has renewed my love of stew (it simply has really never been a favorite dinner of mine) for many reasons. The first is that the cooked carrots in this stew are reminiscent of the divine vegetables in my mom’s Sunday roast dinners. They nearly melt in your mouth with tenderness while still having a bit of bite and they are infused with flavor. I chalk this up to the unusual cooking method and hereby vow to use foil packets in any and every slow cooker dinner from here on out. The carrot phenomenon alone would allow me to rationalize making this weekly from here on out, but in addition, this hearty, rich stew is also packed with juicy, tender chunks of meat, delicious peas and potatoes, and the sauce is thick, velvety and so very tasty.

New favorite stew with my beloved old favorite carrots. That’s a win-win in my book.

What To ServeA really, great dinner roll (for homemade, I’d suggest French Bread Rolls or Buttery Cornmeal Crescents)
Fresh fruit 
Sliced cheddar cheese

One Year Ago: Balsamic Chicken Noodle Bowl
Two Years Ago: Quick and Delicious Clam Chowder
Three Years Ago: No-Knead Bread Revolution

Hearty Beef Stew {Slow Cooker}

Yield: Serves 6-8

Hearty Beef Stew {Slow Cooker}

Note: this stew recipe has a few steps that I am going to strongly encourage following – even if it makes you roll your eyes to have to go to the work/mess of browning meat before adding it to the slow cooker. I get it, I do! But let me emphasize that there is a reason this stew has more flavor and deliciousness than any other slow cooker stew I’ve had – and I believe it is because of the few minutes you have to spend at the beginning browning up the meat, onions and quickly bringing the sauce to a simmer. Browing = flavor. Now, if you absolutely refuse to do it…don’t worry, I’ll still like you. Go ahead – throw it all in – but don’t tell me before you do or else I’ll spend the day cringing. Also, unless you can find prepackaged stew meat in large pieces, it pays to buy a whole chuck roast and cut it up yourself, plus if you look for chuck roast on sale, it will probably save you a penny or two!

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound red potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Minute tapioca
  • 2 cups frozen peas

Directions

  1. After the meat has been cut into chunks, pat it dry with a paper towel and season all the pieces with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat until the oil is rippling and hot. Cook half of the beef until it is well browned on each side, about 4 minutes. No need to cook it all the way through – just get some great brown color all around. Toss the meat in the slow cooker and follow the same process with the second half of the meat (you may need to add another tablespoon of oil to the pan if it looks a little dry). Remove the meat to the slow cooker, trying to keep as much oil in the pan as possible.
  2. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the onions are translucent and golden, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the broth, soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil and transfer it to the slow cooker, pouring it over the meat.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the carrots, potatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. On the counter, lay out a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (use two sheets of regular foil on top of each other if you don’t have heavy-duty). Place the tossed vegetables on one side of the foil. Fold the foil over the vegetables and crimp the edges really well to form a little foil packet that will fit in the top of your slow cooker. Stir the tapioca into the slow cooker. Place the foil packet of vegetables on top of the stew, cover the slow cooker, and cook on high for 6-7 hours or low for 10-11 hours.
  4. When the stew is finished cooking, carefully remove the foil packet from the top of the stew. Discard the bay leaves from the stew. Carefully open the foil packet (be careful of steam that may escape as you open it!). Return the vegetables and any juices to the slow cooker and gently mix them into the stew. Stir in the frozen peas and let them rest in the stew for 5-10 minutes, until they are heated through. Serve.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/hearty-beef-stew-slow-cooker/

Recipe Source: adapted from Cook’s Country Dec/Jan 2011

145 Responses to Hearty Beef Stew {Slow Cooker}

  1. DollyG says:

    I like to shake the meat cubes in seasoned flour before I brown it. This thickens the sauce and the brown bits you scrape up after you put the broth and all in makes it all so tasty. I can’t wait to make this.

  2. [...] Slow Cooker Hearty Beef Stew-http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2011/01/hearty-beef-stew-slow-cooker.html [...]

  3. Phillip Schwartz says:

    And I thought I was a carrot lover. I attack the carrots in their beef stew at Chuck a Rama restaurants in Provo and Orem Utah. Might try this today.

  4. diane says:

    diane mead
    I have been cooking for more years than I care to mention, and I must say this is …by far…the absolute “BEST” stew I have ever eaten. If you follow the instructions to the T you will not be disappointed!! I learned something new with the veggies and the foil (you can teach a old dog new tricks) LOL thanks

  5. Maureen says:

    This recipe sounds fabulously easy and delicious, problem is it calls for SOY SAUCE and I can not have soy products. Is there a substitute?

  6. Nicole says:

    We get weekly produce shares, and this week we received fresh red potatoes, peppers, carrots & onions. My husband wanted a pot roast, and this was the closest recipe I could find on your site. I kept my chuck roast whole and browned the entire roast before putting in crock pot. I halved all the gravy ingredients since I was going for less than stew consistency. I also added peppers to the veggie foil pack. FANTASTIC!!! My husband wants this to be our go to pot roast recipe! ;) Maybe others have made these modifications (I didn’t have time to read all comments, sorry!), but I thought I’d pass along anyhow! I’m so tickled about the foil pack on top of the meat…I want to try your Slow Cooker Italian Beef next with a roasted potato pack on top. What do you think?! Thanks again for another great recipe, Mel! :)

  7. Tom says:

    Only substitute = One cup of wine for one of the cups of broth. All great stew deserves wine for depth :-) Awesome idea on the veggies packet too, thanks!

  8. Sharon says:

    So by Minute tapioca, do you mean tapioca starch? Does it have to be Minute brand? I couldn’t find it at my grocery store, but I know that Bobs Red Mill makes tapioca starch and I know where I can find that.

    • Mel says:

      Sharon – I’ve never bought tapioca starch but I actually think that the Minute tapioca has a totally different texture than the starch so you’ll have to experiment if using the starch (or look around for the Minute tapioca). Good luck!

  9. Kate says:

    I just put this together, and I must say that there is no way all of the ingredients would fit in my 4.5 qt slow cooker. I only used 4 lbs of meat and it still didn’t fit! good thing I have a 7qt slow cooker, or I’d be in trouble. Otherwise, this is easy to prepare in segments (did the chopping and made the veggie packet the night before). It also already smells amazing! You (and Cook’s Country) never steer me wrong!

  10. esther janeczko says:

    AWSOME>My family love it,THANKS

  11. Theresa says:

    The Crockpot Recipe Exchange posted a link to your recipe on Facebook today, so I decided to try it. This is what my family and I had to say: I thought it was awesome! My husband said it was the best stew he ever had. And during dinner my husband and 2 year old were chanting Man Food! and Fist bumping! (my 2 year old ate two bowls). My daughter loved it too. So, as you can tell, it will be in the family favorites list and making the rotation this winter. Thank you for posting the recipe!

  12. Davina says:

    I made this stew this past weekend and it was amazing! I added 1/2 c. of red wine for part of the broth and used one carrot and fresh green beans. That was the vegetable I had on hand. It was a rockstar dish and my family really enjoyed it. Thank you, Mel…this is now the only Beef Stew Crockpot recipe I’m going to use. The trick with the foiled vegetables was genius….truly!

  13. Allison says:

    I’m not a beef stew person, but I loved this recipe!

  14. Louise Nolan says:

    This was delicious! I followed the recipe to the letter and it got rave reviews from my family. The only part I didn’t enjoy was cutting up the 5 pound roast. I felt like I had taken part in a homicide! :)

  15. Stacey says:

    SO GOOD. This was the best stew I’ve ever made. But don’t just take my word for it….I sent some with a friend; she reported back that her husband wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t planning to eat — until he saw it — and said it looked like it was from a restaurant! I used 3 lbs of meat and increased the potatoes and carrots a bit. Thanks for another home run, Mel!

  16. Salem says:

    So I just realize I am out of tin foil…as in my drawer is empty and so is my pantry. Can I just add them when there is about 4 hrs left? I’ve made this before, but with the foil packet method. I’m kinda nervous about just dumping them in, but I am not running to the store!

    • Mel says:

      Salem – Sorry for the delay in getting back with you. I’ve never tried it without foil but adding them in the last four hours or so would be a good compromise. I hope it worked out!

  17. ALICIA says:

    Hi Mel,

    I’d love to try this recipe for a dinner party I’m having this week, do you think this recipe would work with lamb shanks instead of chuck roast?

  18. Jennie P. says:

    Delicious! I already have my leftovers packed away and hidden in the back of the fridge for my lunches the next couple days. If I didn’t hide them my husband would take them since he loved this stew so much!

  19. Betsy says:

    do you think I can prep meat/sauce and foil packet ahead of time, then just add foil packet and turn on before work?

  20. Lisa says:

    I made this last night and it was a total hit! So YUMMY!!! And it was my first time making stew, ever! Thank you so much! I’m going to keep on making this one :)

  21. Kim says:

    I do not have tapioca, can I sub flour or corn starch?

  22. Carrie says:

    This turned out great. Loved the flavor. I used ~2 lbs of stew meat and it seemed plenty to me.

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