Super-easy slow-cooker beef stew, for Jan

Do you hate cooking, or are you too tired to squeeze food prep into an overscheduled, stressful life? I find that when I live on takeout and fast food, I feel yucky (and spend far too much money). Crock pots (or other brands of slow cookers) are the best way to sneak some home cooking into your routine without causing stress.

Beef stew is one of the easiest first meals to make with a crock pot. It’s so easy that even my friends who hate to cook use this recipe and like it. ๐Ÿ™‚

First, you’ll have to go shopping (or have the right food and materials at home). You’ll need:

Equipment:

  • Crock pot. Any size is fine, but you should make enough stew to fill at least half of the crock pot. Otherwise, your food will overcook and burn. I prefer using a 1.5 quart size (3-4 servings, depending on your appetite). If you’re buying a crock pot for the first time, buy the cheapest one with a manual knob. No sense paying for fancy extras that you might not need.
  • Cutting board, sharp knife, and stirring spoon. (Yes, Ana’s recipes all require a wooden spoon. One for business and one for pleasure.)

Ingredients:

  • Beef for stew. In the meat section of your local grocery store, you can find pre-cut stew meat. I use about 3/4 pound of beef for my 1.5 liter crock pot. You can add more or less, depending how much meat you like.
  • Beef gravy in a jar. I like Heinz HomeStyle Gravy and use one small jar (12 oz). It’s easier than cooking powdered gravy, and it costs almost the same.
  • Beef broth. I like Progresso beef broth that comes in a pourable square container.
    Note: If you prefer to simplify and don’t like having leftover broth, use two small jars of gravy and omit the broth.
  • Carrot. You can use baby carrots for less work, or you can peel and chop full-length carrots. Up to you. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Onion. One small onion (from the kind sold in a multipack or sack) or half of a regular onion (sold individually). Peel and slice.
  • Celery. You can buy celery hearts to reduce prep work, or you can buy a celery snack pack. You won’t need much. Wash and cut into small pieces.
  • Tomato. You can use a small can of tomatoes from the canned vegetable aisle, or you can wash, remove the green top part, and cut the tomato into chunks.
  • Mushroom. Choose your favorite mushroom (dried, fresh, or canned) or omit if you don’t like mushrooms.
  • Parsnip. Wash, peel, and slice just like the carrot, unless you don’t like parsnip.

That’s it! The hardest part will be finding the ingredients. Ready?

First, pour a little beef broth into the bottom of the crock pot. That’s to put moisture on the bottom so the meat won’t burn. If your crock pot has a high/low setting, turn it on high. If not, just turn it on.

Next, rinse the stew meat in cold water (you can skip this step if you prefer the blood in your stew) and put into the crock pot. (There’s no need to dredge the meat in flour and saute in a pan, especially if you prefer tender meat the way I do.)

Add your baby carrots/carrots, tomato chunks, mushrooms, parsnips, celery, and onion. Don’t fill the crock pot! The stew will need extra room to bubble once it’s hot enough, and you don’t want the stew to boil over.

Pour the jar of beef gravy on top of the vegetables.

Add more beef broth until the meat and vegetables are fully submerged in liquid.

Cover the stew with the crock pot lid.

That’s it! My 1.5 liter crock pot takes about four hours to cook stew. (If you have a bigger crock pot and more stew, it will take longer.) You can eat the stew all by itself or with bread/pasta/rice.

Recap:

  • Buy meat, veggies, and gravy/broth
  • Dump into your crock pot
  • Take out a delicious meal 4-8 hours later!

See? Not that hard. ๐Ÿ˜€

P.S. You can add potatoes to the stew if you wish. I personally don’t like potatoes, so that’s why I omitted them. The fun part about stew is that you can customize it to your tastes. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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12 thoughts on “Super-easy slow-cooker beef stew, for Jan

  1. chickie says:

    You’ve gotta try it this way too ๐Ÿ™‚

    Dump in a can of beef broth or veggie broth and mix in a packet of brown gravy mix and ranch dressing mix. I usually throw in a roast of some sort, london broil or whatever’s on sale. Usually don’t even bother cutting it up. Chop up a couple potatoes and carrots and onions and throw ’em on top. Leave on low all day and it comes out amazing. You’ve got to thicken the gravy if you want it stew-like.

    You could add all that other stuff, I suppose. Of course I’d omit the parsnips just because and the mushrooms because they’re a fungus and the tomatoes because they freak me out with their bodies full of phlegm and seeds. The potatoes and carrots should consider themselves honored to be allowed to mingle with my meat.

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      LOL. Yeah, trying to make a pot roast usually ends up like a stew, anyway. I like the combination of parsnips and tomato to give the stew a nice flavor, but it’s not for everyone. Heck, I thought I hated parsnips until I had them in a stew.

      You sure get protective of your meat. Not just turkey, but now roast, too? Is this something I should be worried about? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Like

  2. catrouble says:

    Hey Ana…Your recipe sounds great…here’s a few suggestions.

    Rather than purchase gravy, you can use the rest of your beef broth mixed with cornstarch and seasonings to make a gravy.

    If you don’t want to chop vegetables, go to the salad bar at your local grocery store and place chopped carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms in a small container which can then be just dumped in the crockpot.

    If you have leftover rice, you can serve your stew over the top of the rice.

    You could add sweet potatoes and/or egg noodles and/or dumplings. Easy dumplings = get a can of homestyle biscuits, cut into quarters and place on top of boiling stew about 30 minutes prior to serving.

    BTW Ana…what do you mean you don’t like potatoes!?!

    I do love playing with recipes no matter how good they are to begin with. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Hugs and Blessings…
    Cat

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oh, this was just a simple recipe for a friend who hates cooking. She said her dog wouldn’t even eat what she made. ๐Ÿ˜€ Later, I’ll put up a recipe that I use for myself.

      Potatoes are a cheap filler! ‘Nuff said.

      Like

  3. annapurna1951 says:

    It’s a wonderful recipe!

    I would substitute chicken for beef and add a few more vegetables.

    Maybe I would also switch mushroom soup for the beef gravy. Some of us have heart issues.

    Other than that, a crockpot dinner like yours would allow me to multitask in earnest while I do other things around the house.

    Bless your heart!

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      If you use chicken, you’ll probably want to use chicken broth and gravy. You can also use a vegetable based broth.

      And yes, crockpots are wonderful. Ten minutes of prep, self-sufficient cooking, and a wonderful dinner a few hours later. Yum!

      Like

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