This is a super basic recipe. So basic that I wondered if it was even worth sharing here. But I think it’s a staple dish for busy families that is so simple, so hearty, and it goes a long way with a few cheap ingredients. This time of year in Canada there isn’t a lot of fresh, local produce you can get your hands on. I always have a sack of carrots, a sack of potatoes, and a sack of onions in my basement, and stewing beef in my freezer. ALWAYS. If I don’t, it means I haven’t been to the grocery store in months and there’s probably an apocalypse happening outside.
It’s a slow-cooker recipe, and the quantity of ingredients is just a rough guide – it’s really difficult, if not impossible, to screw up.
Again, qty of each ingredient is really flexible and up to your liking.
- Stewing beef
- And/or other roots vegetables
- Frozen peas or corn
- Bay leaf, other dried herbs (e.g., thyme)
- Beef broth
- Optional: butter (or other fat), flour
Add to your slow cooker:
1 lb stewing beef (I chop it into smaller pieces than it comes in so it’s bite sized and stretches to more bowls). You can put it in frozen. Doesn’t matter.
2 large carrots halved and roughly chopped
2 potatoes (any kind will do, peeled or not peeled) cubed
1 onion, diced. You can caramelize it beforehand or not.
1 or 2 bay leaves, other dried herbs you have on hand (e.g., thyme, rosemary, parsley…).
And any other root veggies you like or have kicking around in the fridge/root cellar (e.g., parsnip, turnip, leeks…).
For the broth:
If you want super simple, just add enough beef broth to cover all the ingredients in the slow cooker. If you want a little thicker stew, make a roux. If you don’t know how to make a roux, there are hundreds of YouTube videos that will show you how. But here’s how I do it (this stew is so simple that its not much of a recipe share if I don’t share how to make the roux, too).
For the roux, add 1-2 tablespoons of any kind of fat you like to a deep frying pan or a pot on the stove top (butter, vegetable oil, bacon fat…). If you wanted to be fancy and caramelize your onions and brown your beef before adding them to the slow cooker, use the same pot for extra flavour in your roux. Melt the fat and add flour to the pan, one tablespoon at a time, whisking in over med-high heat. I usually get to the consistency I want with 3 or 4 tablespoons of flour. It should be a thick paste. Whisk continuously for a minute or two to kind of cook the flour, and then slowly add beef broth. You’ll want enough broth to cover the ingredients in the slow cooker, so use your discretion. I usually need about 4 cups of broth. Whisk the broth into the roux, slowly, and keep whisking until it thickens, at a simmering temperature. When you’ve reached the stew-like consistency you like, dump the broth into the slow cooker.
Add salt and pepper to the levels you like.
Cook on low for 8 hours. High for 6 works too, but depending on the quality of your stewing beef (I’m super cheap so the cuts of meat in my freezer are usually the worst), the lower and slower you cook it the more tender it becomes.
Last minute add-ins:
With about half an hour left on the cook, add in about a cup of frozen peas. You can also use canned corn (or any other light and sweet pop of vegetable).
I like serving this stew with tea biscuits, but tea biscuits are for another Food Blog Friday.
If you have these ingredients on hand but don’t feel like stew, you can make a beef pie by adding just a little broth (like 1 cup instead of 4), throwing an edible lid on the whole thing, and finishing in the oven to crisp up your “lid”.
If you have mushrooms, make a beef and mushroom pie. Kidney in your fridge? Steak and kidney pie. Puff pastry is great for on top, but if you don’t have puff pastry, omit the potatoes from the stew, boil and mash them separately, and put those on top like a shepherd’s pie.
There are so many meal options when you have these few easy to store root vegetables and a thing of stewing beef if your freezer.