Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Slow Cooker Beef Stew (with Instant Pot option) — Inspired by the tomatoey beef stew that my mom and grandmother used to make, this comforting dish is loaded with tender meat and wholesome vegetables and comes together in snap. I loved this as a child—and still do!

Inspired by the tomatoey beef stew that my mom and grandmother used to make, this comforting, all-in-one meal is loaded with tender meat and wholesome vegetables and comes together in snap.

Are there certain things you remember from your childhood kitchen? I have an indelible memory of the dark cherry cabinets and the distinctive print of the mustard yellow linoleum floor.
Of course, the Formica counters matched those mustard floors perfectly (it was the 70s after all!), and sitting on those counters was an electric skillet and a Crock Pot-the latter of which, believe it or not, has stood the test of time and is tucked in the back of one of my kitchen cabinets today!
My mom and grandmother used their Crock Pots often, usually for a hearty beef stew that filled the house with a delicious aroma as the beef and vegetables cooked to tender perfection.
My favorite part was mashing the potatoes with my fork and letting them soak up the deeply flavored sauce. I loved this as a child-and still do!
To create their thick gravy, my mom and grandmother both relied on a popular shortcut-cream of mushroom soup. My husband was never a fan of creamy canned soups, so when we married, beef stew as I knew it had to be reworked.
Happily, it isn’t difficult to create a luscious stew from scratch. Tomato paste helps to thicken the gravy while contributing that elusive “umami” that makes the savory flavor extra special.
The recipe includes my family’s preferred combination of vegetables, but you could certainly adjust to suit the tastebuds of your family. For example, my grandmother sometimes used turnips instead of potatoes (which I must admit was not a happy occurrence for me!). Similarly, those who aren’t especially fond of peas could opt for green beans instead.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew (with Instant Pot option) — Inspired by the tomatoey beef stew that my mom and grandmother used to make, this comforting dish is loaded with tender meat and wholesome vegetables and comes together in snap. I loved this as a child—and still do!
Slow Cooker Beef Stew (with Instant Pot option) — Inspired by the tomatoey beef stew that my mom and grandmother used to make, this comforting dish is loaded with tender meat and wholesome vegetables and comes together in snap. I loved this as a child—and still do!

 

Since it’s always nice to know how family and friends rate various meals, I can report that my young nieces were over for dinner a few months back and each ate four bowls. (The servings did grow more modest with each helping because I couldn’t imagine where they were putting it!)

My family enjoys this stew with a side of cornbread. (Pictured recipe is linked below.) Others have mentioned what I’ve believed for years: though this stew tastes great straight from the slow cooker, leftovers are a special treat as the flavors meld and improve over time.

   Slow Cooker Beef Stew (with Instant Pot option) — Inspired by the tomatoey beef stew that my mom and grandmother used to make, this comforting dish is loaded with tender meat and wholesome vegetables and comes together in snap. I loved this as a child—and still do! 

Slow Cooker Beef Stew (with Instant Pot option)
Yield: 8 servings
Inspired by the tomatoey beef stew that my mom and grandmother used to make, this comforting dish is loaded with tender meat and wholesome vegetables and comes together in snap.
Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag baby carrots or 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 2½ pounds cubed stew beef (I like chuck roast)
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped (I include any leaves)
  • 1½ pounds baby potatoes (I often use a bag of Green Giant’s Klondike minis)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can sliced stewed tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can low sodium beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ – 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (or a mix of dried thyme, oregano, basil, and rosemary)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Optional for serving: chopped fresh parsley, crusty rolls or cornbread
Instructions

To make in your slow cooker: Layer the onions, carrots, beef, celery, and potatoes in a 6-quart slow cooker.  Add all of the remaining ingredients—except the peas and starting with 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt—and gently stir to incorporate. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until the beef, carrots, and potatoes are tender.  Stir in the peas, and allow to cook for 5-10 more minutes. Adjust for seasonings, adding the remaining salt to taste, and sprinkle with fresh parsley, if desired.

To make in an Instant Pot: Drizzle olive oil in the bowl the Instant Pot and turn on the sauté function. Wait until it’s hot, and then add the meat (you’ll need to do this in batches), browning on all sides. Add the remaining ingredients, seal the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes, then allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Vent to release any remaining pressure, and then carefully open the lid.

Helpful hints

When cooking in my slow cooker (the method I most often use for this stew), I never bother to sear the meat first, although you can. In that case, you’ll need a few tablespoons of olive oil to sear the beef cubes in batches on the stovetop before adding to the slow cooker—or right in the slow cooker if your model has that option.

If I’m home, I like to give everything a good stir one time, roughly in the middle of the cooking process.

I have cooked the stew on high for 3½ to 4 hours, but I find the meat to be slightly more tender when cooked using lower heat for a longer time.

I don’t thicken the gravy, but you may. Do note that it will naturally thicken somewhat as it rests.

My grandmother and mother would add a pinch or two of sugar at the end to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. I don’t do this anymore, but you may.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

Southern (With a Twist) Cornbread… naturally gluten-free with a dairy-free option

A welcome side to soups, stews and salads, Southern with a twist cornbread is naturally gluten-free with a dairy-free option.

O’Brien Irish Stew

For a slightly different take on stew, this recipe for O’Brien Irish Stew came from the mother of a childhood friend. It’s her Irish family’s authentic dish that has stood the test of time for both its ease and flavor. I haven’t tried, but I’m confident you could follow the oven method used in the Irish stew for the recipe on this page.

 

 

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Comments

    1. Ann Post author

      I hope you enjoy it, Jane. I’ve been working on a few other Instant Pot recipes, one of which should be ready to share soon. It’s fun to find news ways to use it, although I do still enjoy my good old slow cooker. If you have any personal favorites with your new machine, feel free to share!

      Reply
  1. KML

    It was yummy – made it with buffalo and instead of peas, last 30 minutes put fresh green beans – my husband likes gb’s came out great!! KML

    Reply