Simple Beef Stew?
So, I have a lot of grassfed beef roasts. I'd like to make some beef soup, but I don't know much about cooking. My tastes are really simple, so I don't need anything fancy at all.
I looked at some recipes that called for beef stock, which I don't have. I was just thinking I'd cut up the roast, toss it in the crock pot, cover it with water, and add some spices, let it cook, and then toss in some vegetables a little later... would that work? I mean, tasty beef, water, spices and veggies in a crockpot... do I really need anything else? Any suggestions for the spices?
That would work. If you are not using stock then don't add tons of water or the broth could be weak tasting. I usually don't use any spices except sea salt and black pepper.
My standard beef stew has root veggies, celery, onion, a little garlic or shake of garlic powder, 1 TBS of tomato paste (in a tube). Cut up veggies and meat and put in the crockpot at the same time. I use beef stock in a box (Kitchen Basics Beef) if I don't have any homemade. Sometimes I add green beans and/or mushrooms towards the end of cooking time (last hour or so). I've also put canned pumpkin in for variety on occasion.
Here's another crockpot recipe that has a slight Italian flare because of the tomato and herbs used:
Here's what I do and it is achingly delicious. I am trying to keep it simple since you said you don't really cook that much. It looks very long because I am taking you step by step, but it's not really that complicated, and there is lots of wiggle room so don't worry about messing it up. If you want to know the why's for certain steps in the process, just ask and I can explain, but I'll leave out the why's for now.
Ingredients--the amounts are really up to you and the size of your crock pot
2-3 lb roast
good cooking fat such as bacon grease, coconut oil, butter
hint: chop veggies all about the same size for even cooking
1 large or 2 med onions, chopped
chopped celery and celery stalks with tops
any other vegs you like (green beans, butternut, turnips, etc). Frozen is ok if that's what you have.
1-2 fresh tomatoes, chopped, or one 8 oz can of diced or pureed tomatoes
Fresh herbs are always preferable, but dried will do as long as the herbs are not old and flavorless
ABOUT HERBS: If you do have fresh herbs, chop some according to the amounts below, and then take about 3-4 stems of what's left and make a bundle with those and the celery sticks with their tops. Tie them in a string. You will put this on the top of your roast and let the flavors steep into the sauce as it cooks, and then discard the whole bundle several hours later.
Use the following spices with your sauteed onions and tomatoes (step 7-12):
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
1 tsp dried Parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground coriander
balsamic vinegar--about 1-2 Tablespoons
1/2 cup red or white wine if you have it
Preparing the meat for the crock pot:
1.Once your meat has thawed slowly in the fridge (this can take a couple of days), let it come to room temp on the counter, then pat it dry with a paper towel all over.
2. Start with a big frying pan (cast iron if you have it).
3. Put in some good fat (coconut oil, bacon grease--my fave, or butter)
4. Turn the pan on med, not so hot that the oil smokes.
5. Now sear the meat on all sides. Just lay it in there and let it brown on each side until it looks like it is forming a bit of a crust. If you try to turn it too soon it will stick, so be patient (about 2-3 min per side, depending on thickness). Use a pair of tongs to sear the edges of the meat if you want also.
6. Put that seared meat in a warm crock pot and pour in either water or any kind of broth--it does not have to be beef--until it is about half way up the sides of the meat. Cover it for now.
7. Now go back to your frying pan.
8. Keep the heat on med, and add some more fat if you need it or want it.
9. Put in the chopped onions and saute them slowly, stirring them from time to time. You want them to brown, just nearly until caramelized. They will shrink a lot. If you cook them too hot they will burn and not taste so good, so please be patient. Don't forget to stir. You can do something else while they are browning, because it takes about 15 minutes, but don't go too far away. Nicely browned onions are the key to good rich flavor in many savory dishes, so if you leave out anything, try not to leave out the onions!
10. When the onions look about right, stir in the chopped or canned tomatoes, the chopped and/or dried herbs and spices, salt and pepper and balsamic vinegar. Don't skimp on the salt and pepper. Sautee all of that together for another few minutes until some of the liquid evaporates from the tomatoes.
11. Now add the wine and stir it all together. Turn the heat up just a bit so it can all come to a small boil, and once that happens, turn the heat DOWN to med-low for about five minutes. Stir it now and then. This process allows the wine to reduce and lets the alcohol dissipate.
12. Taste it and add salt or pepper if you need it. If it tastes really acidic, you can add about 1-2 tsp honey to cut the acidity.
13. Transfer all the contents of your pan to the crock pot, covering the meat and mixing it in with the water/broth. Now lay the bundle of herbs and celery on top of everything and "bury" it under the liquid.
The slow cooking process:
Now put the lid on, turn the crock pot to low, and leave it alone for 5-6 hours. After that time, remove the herb and celery bundle and add the carrots and other chopped vegs, and some water if necessary to cover the vegs. Turn the crock pot to high and let it cook with the vegs for another 2 hours or so.
About timing: If you are doing this before work and you want to leave it all day, you can prep it all the night before and refrigerate it, then start the crock pot in the morning and leave it. If that's your plan, go ahead and add the veggies and just let the whole thing cook on low all day.
When it's ready to eat, you should have fork tender meat and a wonderful aromatic sauce to go with it. Good luck!
p.s. Any leftover sauce can be frozen for use with the next roast. Don't throw it away!
Wow! Thanks for all the great tips! I'm looking forward to experimenting with this. I have a feeling beef and veggie soup is going to quickly become a staple of mine. Thanks again! I'll let you know how it turns out.
Mermaid, that looks awesome!
i'm making this right now
i've made the stew before & it was good, this time i'm doing it w/o the flour & i added a red onion to fresh bell peppers (instead of frozen).
i prefer slow cooker recipes too, maybe i'll figure out how to do this in the slow cooker. Prob just brown the beef then add it & the veggies and not so much broth (?), cook on low for 8 hrs?
My foolproof recipe:
Season beef and brown over butter/whatever. Add in stock and red wine, plus any other spices. Simmer for an hour. Add in whatever vegetables you want. Simmer for another hour or so until veggies cook through. Done.
I do this on the stovetop but a slow-cooker would work as well. Enjoy!
I also often make a meat ratatouille: season and brown meat of choice, and add in fresh chopped tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, a few cloves of garlic and any other spices. Cook on low until veggies cook and give you a lovely lovely broth. Yum!
meat ratatouille sounds good!
Yeah, waaaay better than regular ratatouille!
Originally Posted by Catherine
Cooking with a crock pot is stupid easy - you don't even have to brown your meat first (of course it would add a bit more flavour, but it's not required. Just put your carrots. onions, etc (things that won't necessarily be too soggy if left in there for 8 hours) on the bottom, add some water and spices, put your meat on top of that, sprinkle some more seasoning on the meat itself, put the lid on, put on low and forget about it for about 6-8 hours (depending on which meat you put in).
You don't need to use stock, but again, it adds more flavour if you do use it.