When the chill of fall and winter sets in, or you simply crave a comforting meal, this Crockpot Hearty Beef Stew is here to save the day. This slow-cooker dinner combines tender chunks of chuck roast, a rich and flavorful broth, and an array of vegetables that will warm both your body and soul. Plus, it’s easy to prepare and practically cooks itself in the crockpot.
Ok, so maybe we should discuss this gorgeous puff pastry crust! Although not required, amp up this beef stew recipe by adding a piece of puff pastry to the crock and baking until puffy and golden brown. Full instructions are in the recipe below!
REASONS TO MAKE BEEF STEW IN A SLOW COOKER
Crockpot or slow-cooker meals offer a high level of convenience and have become a beloved kitchen appliance for many reasons. Here are a few why you should try this Slow-Cooker Beef Stew recipe:
- Easy and Convenient: The crockpot (or slow cooker) does most of the work for you. Once you’ve done the initial prep and searing, you can simply set it and forget it until the final hour.
- Tender Meat: Using chuck roast, which is known for its marbling, ensures that the beef becomes incredibly tender during the slow cooking process. The meat practically melts in your mouth.
- Nutrient-Rich Vegetables: This stew is loaded with vegetables like potatoes, carrots, celery, tomatoes, green beans and corn providing essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Versatility: You can easily adapt this recipe to your preferences or dietary restrictions. Swap out ingredients, add more veggies, or adjust the seasoning to make it your own. It’s also great for feeding a crowd or for leftovers.
- Stress-Free Cooking: With minimal hands-on time, this recipe allows you to enjoy your day while your meal slowly simmers to perfection. It’s perfect for busy individuals and families.
- Freezer-Friendly: If you make a large batch, you can freeze portions for later, creating an easy and convenient meal option for those days when you’re too busy to cook.
- Easy Cleanup: Many crockpot recipes involve minimal prep and use just one pot, which makes cleanup a breeze. This is particularly appealing for those who want to enjoy a homemade meal without the hassle of a sink full of dishes.
- Economical: Slow cooking is an economical way to prepare meals. It allows you to use less expensive cuts of meat and still achieve great results.
WHERE’S THE BEEF?
It’s essential to use cuts of meat that are well-suited for slow cooking, as they will become tender and flavorful over the long cooking period. Chuck roast was used to create this Crockpot Hearty Beef Stew recipe. However, here are some alternative cuts of meat you can consider:
- Stew Meat: You can often find pre-cut stew meat at the grocery store. Stew meat is typically made from various cuts, including chuck, round, or even sirloin. It’s convenient, but be sure to check for quality and trim any excess fat.
- Round Roast: Bottom round or top round roast can also be used for stew. While leaner than chuck, it can yield excellent results when slow-cooked. Just ensure you cut them into bite-sized pieces.
- Short Ribs: Beef short ribs are another option, known for their rich flavor. They have a good amount of fat and connective tissue, making them well-suited for slow cooking. Bone-in short ribs are especially flavorful. Just remember to remove the bone and shred the meat prior to serving.
TIPS ON MAKING THE BEST HEARTY CROCKPOT BEEF STEW
- Cut and trim the meat: Trim the fat from the roast and cut into uniform, bite-sized pieces. If using pre-cut stew meat, you may also have to trim the fat and cut into smaller pieces.
- Searing the meat: If you can, allow the meat to sit out of the fridge for about an hour prior to searing. Take the time to sear the cubed chuck roast before adding it to the crockpot. This step enhances the flavor by creating a caramelized crust on the meat. It’s worth the extra few minutes for the depth of flavor it adds.
- Deglaze the pan: After searing the meat, deglaze the pan with red wine or stock. Scrape up all the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. This step ensures you capture all the rich flavors from the searing process.
- Red wine: Cabernet is a great choice to use when cooking. However, merlot or pinot noir are great substitutes.
- Fresh herbs vs. dried: While the recipe calls for fresh rosemary sprigs, you can substitute with dried rosemary.
- Choose your preferred tomatoes: The beef stew recipe calls for halved cherry tomatoes or tomato paste. Feel free to use whichever you prefer or have available. Tomato paste will provide a concentrated tomato flavor.
- Potatoes: Peeled or unpeeled Buttery Yukon gold or red potatoes work well in this hearty crockpot beef stew.
- Seasoning : Taste the stew before serving and adjust the seasoning if necessary. I did have to add a touch more salt.
- Low and slow: While the recipe provides both high (about 4 hours) and low (about 7 hours) cooking settings, slow cooking on the low setting often yields the best results. It allows the flavors to meld together over a longer period, resulting in a richer and more flavorful stew.
- Remove bay leaves and rosemary stems: Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves, rosemary sprigs, and celery stalks before serving. Eating bay leaves or woody rosemary stems can be unpleasant.
- Add vegetables at the right time: Be mindful of when you add the corn, green beans, and peas. Adding them in the last hour of cooking prevents them from becoming mushy.
- Thickness: If the stew is too thin, adjust with a cornstarch slurry. Allow to cook at least 10 extra minutes after adding the thickening.
HOW TO FORM THE PUFF PASTRY CRUST ON BEEF STEW
As mentioned earlier, the puff pastry crust is not necessary. However, this golden flaky topping does accentuate this beef stew, dramatically.
One store-bought puff pastry will be enough to cover at least two, maybe three bowls if you rework the dough. Fill the bowls about 3/4 of the way up with the hearty beef stew. Cut the pastry dough into rounds about an inch bigger than the opening of the bowl. Stretch the dough across the bowl making sure not to let it drop into the bowl.
You want that rustic aesthetic. So, let the dough drape over the edges of the bowl. Brush the dough all over with an egg wash. Bake on a baking sheet at 400° for 8 -12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
HOW TO SERVE AND STORE BEEF STEW
If you choose not to create the puff pastry crust, this soul-warming crockpot beef stew pairs wonderfully with a variety of accompaniments. Consider serving it with crusty bread, garlic toast, biscuits or even cornbread. Leave out the potatoes (or not) and serve with a side of buttery mashed potatoes. For a healthier option, pair this hearty beef stew with a fresh green salad or a slice of hearty whole-grain bread.
To store leftover stew, allow to cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3-4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. When reheating, do so gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.
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