Slow Cooker Hearty Beef Stew

Slow Cooker Hearty Beef Stew
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Why This Recipe Works

First we focused on which cut of beef would work best in our slow-cooker beef stew recipe, ruling out top and bottom round because of their leanness, and prepackaged beef chunks because their irregular shapes made for inconsistent results. ...

Why This Recipe Works

First we focused on which cut of beef would work best in our slow-cooker beef stew recipe, ruling out top and bottom round because of their leanness, and prepackaged beef chunks because their irregular shapes made for inconsistent results. We chose chuck roast because it was flavorful, tender, and juicy, and we cut it into chunks ourselves. While we recognize that slow-cooker stew recipes are meant to be easier to prepare and more convenient, searing the meat is a key step vital to the quality of the stew. It takes only minutes (and can be done the night before) and builds the flavor foundation of the stew by leaving caramelized bits on the skillet bottom that can be incorporated into the stew by a quick deglazing with broth or wine.

Ingredients

  • 5
    pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (see illustrations below)
  • 2
    tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2
    medium onions, chopped medium
  • 3
    medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1
    cup dry red wine
  • 2
    cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2
    cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1
    teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2
    bay leaves
  • 2
    pounds Red Bliss potatoes, (about 6 medium), scrubbed
  • 5
    medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1
    cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2
    tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

Instructions

Serves 6 to 8

NOTE FROM THE TEST KITCHEN To keep the potatoes from falling apart during the long cooking time, put them into the slow cooker whole and nestle them around the edges of the cooker, where the heating coils reside. This recipe takes 9 to 10 hours on the slow cooker's low setting or 6 to 7 hours on its high setting.
  1. 1. Dry the beef thoroughly with paper towels, then season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Distribute half of the beef in the skillet and cook, without stirring, until well browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Stir the meat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until completely browned, 4 to 6 minutes longer. Transfer it to a slow cooker. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and heat 2 more teaspoons oil until just smoking. Brown the remaining beef and transfer it to the slow cooker.

  2. 2. Return the skillet to medium heat and heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil until shimmering. Add the onions and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the red wine; turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, scraping the browned bits off the skillet bottom. Pour into the slow cooker.

  3. 3. Stir the chicken broth, 1½ cups of the beef broth, thyme, and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Following the illustrations below, nestle the potatoes and carrots around the edges of the slow cooker. Cover and cook, on either low or high, until the meat is tender, 9 to 10 hours on low or 6 to 7 hours on high.

  4. 4. When the meat is tender, remove the potatoes using a slotted spoon and transfer to a carving board; allow them to cool slightly. Set the slow cooker to high (if necessary). Whisk the flour with the remaining ½ cup beef broth until smooth, then stir into the slow cooker. Quarter the potatoes and return them to the slow cooker. Continue to cook on high until the sauce is thickened and no longer tastes of flour, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Stir in the peas and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Techniques