Basic ingredients work best with chunks of beef, root vegetables and a long simmer for a traditional Beef Stew.
The formula for any variation of beef stew is relatively the same: Stewing meat is usually beef chuck that has been roughly cubed and browned (although lamb, elk or venison work equally well). To that is added similarly cubed starchy vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, parsnips or yams. Simmer for hours in a flavorful liquid until tender. Seasoning is minimal, or altogether optional.
Starting with rustic cubes of ingredients, the choice of simmering liquid takes the stew in one direction or another. Quality beer (light or dark) is always a great option but pairing the meat with its own similar stock or broth is a natural and foolproof choice. Also, using a robust wine such as merlot (as here) adds a surprising depth and richness to red meat, as the wine truly brings out the best in beef.
At this point, the stew is complete and the dish perfectly satisfying; further customizing the flavors and ingredients with spice blends, grains, more vegetables or other elements is up to personal preference. The recipe here is only the most basic of presentations, favoring simplicity with just a handful of green peas for color and texture.
Beef stew is the most fundamental of one-pot meals, the easiest to throw together in a slow cooker using almost anything on hand and forget for hours until mealtime. It accommodates just about any addition, meat or vegetable, that can hold up to a long simmer. Avoid low-starch ingredients that might melt into mush or dissolve completely (although cabbage or spinach both work very well).
Serve in a deep bowl as an entrée with toasted crusty bread.
1 lb beef chuck
1 yellow onion
2 Yukon gold potatoes
4 oz mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
1 c green peas
4 c beef broth
1 c red wine
2 T flour
¼ t thyme
1 Cut the beef into 1-in. pieces and dredge in the flour, coating each piece. Briefly sauté the beef in oil over medium-high heat to brown each side.
2 Chop the onion, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms into roughly uniform pieces. Finely mince the garlic.
3 Add all ingredients (vegetables, beef, liquids, seasonings) except the peas to a heavy pot. Cook over low heat, covered, for 4-6 hours or until all ingredients are tender and cooked through.
4 Add the green peas at the end, and allow the residual heat to warm them through before serving.