I've never been a big fan of beef stew, but I really enjoy this recipe that I got from Cook's Country. The meat comes out fork-tender, the broth is rich and just thick enough to coat a spoon, and the vegetables are perfectly cooked. This way of preparing beef stew keeps the vegetables from turning to mush by steaming them on top of the stew in a "hobo pack". The stew is thickened without giving it a starchy texture by using Minute Tapioca. Also, you get a big beefy flavor by slipping in a few tablespoons of soy sauce. It takes a little more prep time, but you can do most of the prep for this recipe the night before the ingredients go into the slow cooker. I think the extra time preparing it is worth it! Just prepare the recipe through step 7 and refrigerate the browned beef and onion mixture in separate containers. In the morning, just transfer everything to the slow cooker and proceed with step 8. The cooking time will run to the high end of the ranges given in the recipe. If you're going to be away from your slow cooker for more than 10 hours, cutting the vegetables into larger, 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces will help them retain their texture.
- 5 lbs boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 medium onions, chopped fine
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth or 2 cups beef broth
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 lb carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 lb parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 lb red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons minute tapioca
- 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- Dry beef with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 T oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.
- Add half of beef and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.
- Transfer to slow cooker inset and repeat with remaining beef (you shouldn't need more oil).
- Add 1 T oil, onions and 1/4 t salt to empty skillet and cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and cook, stirring well, for 2 minutes.
- Add broth and soy sauce, bring to a simmer and transfer to slow-cooker inset.
- Toss carrots, parsnips, potatoes, 1/2 t thyme, and remaining 1 T oil in bowl.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Wrap vegetables in foil packet that will fit in slow cooker.
- Note: To make the pack, place the vegetables on one side of a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
- Fold the foil over, shaping it into a packet that will fit into your slow cooker, then crimp to seal the edges.
- Stir bay leaves and tapioca into slow-cooker insert; set vegetable packet on top of beef.
- Set slow cooker to high, cover, and cook for 6-7 hours (or cook on low for 10 hours-11 hours).
- Transfer vegetable packet to plate.
- Carefully open packet (watch for steam) and stir vegetables and juices into stew.
- Add remaining 1 t thyme and peas and let stand until heated through.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.