Juicy, tender meat, soft vegetables and a delicious gravy. All in one pot, all in one go. No mess, no fuss, just tons of flavour that cook on their own. Definitely something to do on a cold Autumn day!
After I got a slow cooker for my birthday (thanks Tom!), it took me a while to start using it. I don’t know, maybe because my birthday is in July, and I associated the slow cooker with hearty, warming stews that are better suited for winter. But I was definitely wrong. I used the slow cooker several times now, I even cooked a whole chicken at it was the most amazing thing I’ve had in months.
But back to the stew. I’ve always loved the beef stew my mum used to prepare when I was a kid, and I wanted to recreate it on several occasions. The problem with beef is that if you don’t cook it appropriately, it gets chewy and fibrous. So, after a few attempts, I decided to put my dream back in the drawer.
The biggest wonder of the slow cooker is… well that it cooks slow. So slow that literally everything becomes so tender and stays so moist that it’s almost impossible to screw up a recipe. Just put everything in the pot, turn it on and let it do its job.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 600g beef for stew, diced
- 1 large onion
- 3 stalks of celery
- 2 carrots
- 1 tablespoon English mustard (or another strong and pungent variant)
- 250ml red wine
- 1 herb bouquet (bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, juniper berries
- 1 heaped tablespoon of plain flour
- 5 baby potatoes
- 200ml water
Peel the onion, wash carrots and celery, cut them in chunks roughly the same size and tip them in a big bowl with the meat. Add the herb bouquet, season with salt and pepper spoon in the English mustard and add the herb bouquet.
Pour over the wine, mix thoroughly and cover with cling film. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least a couple of hours, better overnight, ideally for 24 hours. I like to give you options, obviously the longer it marinates the richer and deeper the flavour you’ll obtain.
Prepare the slow cooker, pre-heat it if it requires to be (mine doesn’t), and transfer meat and veggies to the pot with a slotted spoon. Scatter the flour over the meat and mix.
Wash, peel and dice the potatoes, cut them in chunks and tip them in the pot. Add the water to the red wine marinade, and pour over the ingredients. Stir well.
Put the slow cooker on low, place the lid on and set the timer for 10 hours.
Once the stew is cooked, check the thickness of the sauce. It might still be very runny. In that case, scoop it to a saucepan, and add some more flour to thicken. I suggest you to mix the flour in a little bowl with either some water or some of the sauce to create a paste and then add it to the pan. It prevents lumps. Guaranteed.
Spoon the stew on a plate, and either drizzle some gravy on top, or serve it on the side in a little jug.
What’s your favourite combination of ingredients to prepare a hearty stew? Do you have any secret ingredients you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!