Slow cooker beef stew

The humble $40 slow cooker I bought many years ago is still one of the best things in my kitchen. And it’s not even for the days I’m at work, because there’s no way I’m ever going to be organised enough to get everything into it before seven am. I actually love using it on my “days off”, i.e. the days I’m running around like crazy getting all the stuff done I can’t get the done the rest of the time.

Very rarely I add a prep stage to my usual slow cooker throw-everything-in-and-forget method. By searing the meat and deglazing the pan you end up with a thick delicious gravy and avoid the runny sauces and pale chunks of meat that can sometimes happen with the throw it all in method. All up for under thirty minutes of your precious day off time, you can have a knockout meal on the table and get that to do list ticked off at the same time.

What you need:

  • 2 kg chuck steak, trimmed and cut into large diced chunks
  • plain flour for dusting beef chunks
  • beef seasoning: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika
  • a little olive oil
  • 400ml red wine
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 large brown onions, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 1kg potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1L beef stock
  • one bunch baby carrots, peeled and halved
  • 500g frozen peas
  • optional: one can of diced tomatoes

What to do:

  • Begin by seasoning the meat in the flour and seasonings, shake off any excess flour, and sear in batches on a high heat in a little olive oil.
  • When all the meat has been browned and removed from the pan pour in the wine and cook on high for a few minutes, scraping up any bits from the meat before adding the tomato paste. Stir it all into the wine and cook until it just starts to thicken and reduce a little. Transfer all the meat and wine mixture into the slow cooker.
  • Add the onions, potatoes, and carrots to the slow cooker and pour over the stock, you may not need it all though. You want about two thirds of the slow cooker to be filled with liquid. Mix it all through. Add the canned tomatoes now if using them.
  • Turn the slow cooker to either high or low depending on how much time you have: it’ll need eight to ten hours of cooking time all up, so either five hours on high or ten hours on low. I usually do a mix of both, four hours on high then two hours on low, just to keep it a bit more gentle towards the end to avoid breaking up the potatoes when they’re mostly cooked.
  • About half an hour before it’s done add the peas and check for seasoning. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy.

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