Mastering the Art of Slow Cooker Stews
A comforting, hearty stew doesn’t have to be the result of a long day babysitting a simmering stove. With a minimal amount of chopping and pouring, you can set it up, go out for the day, and return to a house that smells like home cooking. The best part about this recipe is how versatile it is and how easy it is to swap out ingredients you don’t have with ones you have on hand.
Just about all meat stews have the same structure.
- Dredge the meat in flour by pouring flour and meat into a bag and shaking it to coat.
- Brown the meat on all sides in cooking oil, just a few minutes on each side, until it turns brown.
- Add three cups of broth to every pound of a meat, but be careful not to overfill your slow cooker.
- Chop all vegetables into similarly sized pieces. You’ll usually include potatoes or another starchy tuber. Basic vegetables include onions, carrots, corn, green beans and peas, but experiment with what you have on hand. Peppers, okra, parsnips, rutabaga, and other less-delicate vegetables add a lot to the flavor and texture.
- Add herbs and seasoning to complement the meat. Set it to cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours. The meat will be cooked through earlier, but the extra time will make it more tender and create a thicker stew.
The recipe below is for a basic beef stew. Italicized items after each ingredient are alternative suggestions.
No-Fuss Slow Cooker Beef Stew
1 lb boneless beef chuck steak, cut into cubes. (Alternates: 1 pound cubed lamb or pork)
2 T all-purpose flour
2 T cooking oil
3 C beef broth (Alternates: 3 C chicken or vegetable broth or 3 C bouillon)
½ C chopped frozen onions (alternate: ½ C chopped fresh onions)
1 sprig each of fresh rosemary and oregano (alternates: ¼ tsp each dried rosemary and oregano or marjoram)
1 bay leaf
3 C cubed potatoes
1 C frozen carrots (alternate: 1 C fresh carrots)
1 C frozen corn (alternate: 1 C frozen chopped mixed vegetables)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place meat cubes in a bag with flour and shake to coat. Brown meat on all sides, then place in slow cooker. Layer onion, potatoes, chopped vegetables, and herbs on top of the meat. Pour in liquid, add salt and pepper to taste, and cover. Set slow cooker on high for 4-5 hours or low for 9-11 hours. Serve with bread.