Yesterday we tested a new slow cooker recipe that we are calling “Slow Cooker Veggie Rich Beef Stew”. Yes we know all beef stew recipes have lots of veggies but we loaded up a bit more than usual and also replaced white potatoes with sweet potatoes for a nutritional boost (the sweet potato is often hailed as one of nature’s nutritional powerhouses!). We also included a couple parsnips to give it a slightly different twist and still included the usual veggies that we come to expect in a stew.
Here is our line up of veggies prior to cooking:
We ended up not using the diced tomatoes after all as we decided we wanted the taste of the veggies to come through as strong as possible along with the lean stew beef.
Speaking of the beef, that brings up the question of whether you should brown your beef before you put in the cooker or not? This is a topic that is often debated by cooks and the truth is there is no right answer. Browning the beef beforehand in a bit of oil in the skillet may give your final stew a richer flavor. However, if you don’t want to go through this extra step it will still turn out well. When we tested this recipe yesterday we intentionally skipped the browning the beef step to test this and placed the meat directly in the cooker from the packaging. I don’t think anyone really noticed (certainly not the kids!) and we still enjoyed the dinner. If you are pressed for time in the morning when getting this ready, I would say just skip it and save yourself the time and one less pan to clean. If you have the luxury of more time, then you might want to brown the beef for the benefit of a slightly better flavor. However I should mention that if you are doing a slow cooker recipe with ground meat of any kind, you should brown it beforehand to reduce the amount of fat in the final dish and for safety reasons.
So back to our final result. Here is the photo of the finished stew:
And for my favorite photo:
That’s my 10 year old son David ready to dig in! He loved it and ate almost all of it. He is by far my best and most hearty eater but his slightly less than normal appetite yesterday might have had something to do with the handful of Oreos I found him eating 30 minutes before dinner!!
Now here’s the recipe:
2 lbs lean beef stew meat
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups of baby carrots
4 stalks of celery, chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
8 oz whole mushrooms, sliced in half
2 onions, cut into wedges
1 1/2 cups of beef broth
3 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
Spices: 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp worcestershire
1/4 cup each of tomato paste and dry red wine (we used a merlot)
10 oz frozen peas, thawed
Spray cooker with cooking spray (makes clean up easier!) and place sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips on bottom of cooker. Top with celery, onions, mushrooms, and stew beef. In bowl mix broth with spices, tomato paste, red wine, and worcestershire. Pour over meat and veggies. Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours. About 20 minutes before cooking time is complete, gently stir in peas. Cover and cook for another 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning (salt & pepper) and serve in bowls. Goes great with some nice crusty bread or a side salad. Enjoy!
Note: as I mentioned above, we chose not to brown our beef before adding it to the cooker. If you want to try that step, just brown your beef in a bit of olive oil in a large skillet before you start the recipe. Be careful to just brown it slightly on both sides so you do not overcook the meat!)