Aunt Barbara's Beef Stew

Thanks to a savory mix of herbs, spices, and sauces, this slow cooker beef stew is a cut above the rest.

By The Editors

The Southern Slow Cooker by Kendra Bailey Morris

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This beef stew recipe's long ingredient list may look intimidating, but never fear–it's mostly common herbs, spices, and pantry ingredients. And after a few hours in the slow cooker, you'll be happy you had them all. The recipe comes from The Southern Slow Cooker (Ten Speed Press), by Kendra Bailey Morris, a compendium of similarly belly-warming dishes.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch slices
2 large baking or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 pounds boneless beef stew meat, trimmed of any visible excess fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon bacon grease, vegetable oil, or unsalted butter
1/2 cup red wine
3 cups beef broth, low sodium or homemade
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with its juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Sprig of fresh rosemary (optional)
Salt and black pepper
Chopped fresh rosemary or parsley, to garnish (optional)

Directions:
1. Chopped fresh rosemary or parsley, to garnish (optional)

2. Spray the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray. Layer the onions, carrots, and potatoes in the slow cooker.

3. Combine the stew meat, flour, salt, and black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag and shake to coat well. Heat a large cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon grease and let it melt. Shake 
the excess flour off the stew meat and add enough to fill the pan without crowding (you may have to do this in batches). Brown well on all sides, about 5 minutes, then transfer the meat to the slow cooker.

4. Add the wine to the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Add the beef broth. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up all the bits off the bottom of the pan and immediately transfer the stew meat and broth mixture to the slow cooker.

5. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, sugar, parsley, paprika, oregano, thyme, and basil. Give it a stir. Toss in the rosemary. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, until the meat is tender and the stew has thickened.

6. Uncover, discard the bay leaves and the rosemary sprig, and season with salt and pepper. At this point, if you desire an even thicker stew, you can crank up the heat to high and continue to cook, uncovered, until thickened.

7. Serve the stew in bowls garnished with additional rosemary or fresh parsley, if desired.

Serves 6 to 8

Reprinted with permission from The Southern Slow Cooker by Kendra Bailey Morris, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photographs © 2013 by Erin Kunkel.

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