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A Little of This, A Little of That Leads to Perfect Beef Stew |

A Little of This, A Little of That Leads to Perfect Beef Stew

It is almost the three-year anniversary since I sold the house and bought my condo. Moving from a 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom house to a 2-bedroom condo was not a disappointment, since I no longer had the will or the ability to take care of the house and the problems inherent in a 1690 cape.

We had done the kitchen over in the old house, and it was a wonder with its 42-inch stove, double ovens, lots of granite and butcher block, and a separate room just to use as a laundry room and pantry. But the much smaller galley kitchen in my condo is terrific, and under the bow window is an enormous shelf that holds all my kitchen equipment: a Ninja Pro blender, KitchenAid mixer, and two Cuisinart food processor (one a 14-cupper, the little one for mincing and chopping herbs and garlic).

It also holds seasonal pieces: a salad spinner, a rice cooker, and my slow cooker. I usually put away the slow cooker in the summer, but this year I will keep it handy. Two days ago I make a chuck stew that turned out to be one of the best ever. I tweaked it a bit and was glad I did. It called for slab bacon, but a quarter-pound of regular bacon worked well. I added more chuck than it called for. I added more carrots, because I love cooked carrots. I bought Guinness beer because it called for dark beer (wish I could have just bought one bottle, though). I didn’t have coarse-grained mustard so I used two teaspoons of Gulden’s. I don’t like caraway seeds, so I didn’t add any. And I had a bag of those tiny little potatoes, so I added them, too, before I cover the slow cooker. I tasted it over the 7 hours it cooked. About halfway through I thought the beer was too evident but, at the end, it was just right. Here’s the adapted recipe for a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker.

Chuck Stew with Bacon, Beer and Mustard

Adapted from The Great American Slow Cooker Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

8 ounces slab bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces

3 pound boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup flour, salt and pepper

6 to 8 ounces cremini or brown mushrooms, thinly sliced

½ cup chopped yellow onions

4 to 5 medium carrots, thinly sliced

I cup dark beer (I used Guinness)

2 tablespoons coarse-grained mustard

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons caraway seeds (optional)

Salt to taste almost done (do this judiciously)


Heat a large skillet (I used a Le Creuset Dutch oven) over medium-high heat and add the bacon bits, working in batches to prevent overcrowding. Brown them on all sides, stirring only occasionally so the pieces get a sizzling crust, about 7 minutes per batch. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the slow cooker.

Put flour, salt, and pepper into a large plastic bag. In batches, flour the beef and brown them in the rendered bacon fat. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker and soldier on until you’ve browned all of them.

Reduce heat under the skillet to medium-low; add the mushrooms and onions. Cook, stirring often, until onions soften and begin to brown, about 6 minutes.

Scrape the contents of the skillets into a slow cooker. Stir in the carrots, beer, mustard, pepper, and seeds. Sprinkle the brown sugar on the top, cover, and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours until beef is tender enough that you don’t have to think about setting the table with knives.

I also stirred and tasted after about 4 and 5 hours, to make sure the carrots were submerged. As with most braises, this stew is even better the second or third day.

Category: Skillets  Tags: ,  Comments off
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