November 5, 2011

HB Cooks: Yummy Beef Stew

This week the unexpected pre-Halloween snow inspired me to break out the slower cooker and make some delicious and comforting beef stew.  For those of you out there (like me) who don't have a big family to cook for, or lack a gigantic crock pot, I recommend the book "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two: For the Small Slow Cooker."   It is full of innovative recipes especially tailored to create 2 serving meals rather than larger meals of 4 or more servings.  

Slow Cooker Beef Stew
1 lb. boneless chuck roast
1 T. olive oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/4 lb. baby carrots
1 small parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 T. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme 
1 1/2 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 T. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

The prep for this stew recipe was pretty simple, just chop the vegetables and brown the meat. One thing that I've learned from all of my slow cooker books, is that browning meat prior to slow cooking is key for flavor in the overall dish. Make sure to salt and pepper the meat before to searing it in olive oil.  Next combine the browned meat with the first 7 stew ingredients in the cooker and set on HIGH for 4 and 1/2 hours.  Within the last hour of cooking create a buerre manie with the butter and flour.  A buerre manie is a thickening agent (sort of like roux) which should be then stirred into the stew until it is melted. Finally, add in the peas and cook for the remaining time. 

Even though the cooking time was on the shorter side compared to other slow cooker recipes,  I found myself counting down the minutes until I could dive in thanks to the wonderful smells in the kitchen. The meal turned out great, except it needed more salt because I used reduced-sodium beef broth.  The original recipe also called for sun-dried tomatoes, but I left those out. Enjoy!

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