Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Cover recipe- Cooking Light, Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew:  December 2013

Cover recipe- Cooking Light, Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew:
December 2013

When I was in law school, my favorite kitchen tool was my slow cooker. At the end of a long day, it was wonderful to be able to come back to my apartment to a homemade meal that took minimal effort on my part; like so many people out there who work grueling hours, minimal time and effort was literally all I had to spend on cooking. (Whoever you are, thank you to the inventor of the slow cooker!) But I have to admit, now that I work from home, my slow cooker often sits forgotten in the back of my pantry…mainly because it’s so easy for me to give a quick stir to whatever is slow cooking on the stovetop or in the oven. That is, until one day a couple weeks ago when I had friends coming over for dinner on an evening when I was going to be out all day, and I needed a home-cooked meal that could take care of itself. I was wracking my brain trying to come up with an idea when I saw the cover of December’s Cooking Light magazine.

Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew looked perfect. Chilly days call for warming comfort food and what better than stew? With its hearty veggies and deep flavor, beef stew is always sure to be a hit. Taking a quick peek at the recipe, I realized that even though this is a fairly basic version of beef stew (without even celery or mushrooms, which are vegetables that I don’t usually leave out), it sounded like it had rich flavor with ale, thyme, Dijon mustard, and red wine vinegar. I knew I wanted to give it a try. Read my notes below to see what I thought of this recipe.

Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew

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Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 45 min

Cook Time: 7 hours

Ingredients:

2 pounds trimmed boneless chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 medium yellow onions, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 (12-ounce) bottle nut brown ale
1 1/4 cups unsalted beef stock (such as Swanson), divided
1 1/2 pounds baby Dutch potatoes, halved
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

Directions:

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of beef to pan; cook 6 minutes, turning until well browned on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Repeat procedure with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining beef; remove beef and any juices from pan.

2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onions and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Add beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup stock, remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer. Carefully pour mixture into a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Add beef, potatoes, carrots, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours.

3. Combine remaining 1/4 cup stock and flour, stirring with a whisk. Stir flour mixture into stew; cook 15 minutes or until thickened. Stir in mustard and vinegar. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Sprinkle with parsley.

Tips:

• As per Cooking Light, be careful not to choose a beer that’s super-hoppy because it will taste too bitter.
• Also from Cooking Light, to get 2 pounds of trimmed meat, you’ll probably need to purchase a 2 1/2-pound roast.
• I decreased the black pepper from 1 teaspoon to 3/4 teaspoon, and found that this was still a touch peppery; next time I’ll decrease it to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
• I added 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary.

Nutritional Information per serving:
Serving size: 1 1/4 cups
Calories per serving: 386
Fat per serving: 17.9g
Saturated Fat per serving: 5.9g
Sodium per serving: ,span class="sodium">509g
Fiber per serving: 3.5g
Protein per serving: 25.1g
Cholesterol per serving: 86mg
Carbohydrates per serving: 28.3g

Cooking Light December 2013

The results:

The deep flavor of this rich stew was brightened by the addition of Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar at the end of cooking, resulting in a well-balanced dish. It looks like a pretty basic beef stew recipe, but the flavor is spot-on and truly satisfying on a chilly evening.

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

I think it did. A perfect beef stew recipe is the ultimate cold-weather comfort food, plus the fact that this dish cooks itself in the slow cooker is just gravy (sorry, I couldn’t resist the corny pun). As another bonus, leftovers were even better for lunch the next day.

Lori is the founder of RecipeGirl.com. She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at RecipeBoy.com.


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17 Responses to “Chocolate- Mint Bars”

  1. 1

    Tracey — March 10, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

    I love the chocolate/mint combo so these look fantastic to me! Even better that it’s a CL recipe :)

  2. 2

    Cookin' Canuck — March 11, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    These sounds like a wonderful, lightened-up treat to indulge in. Perfect for St. Paddy’s Day.

  3. 3

    A Bowl Of Mush — March 11, 2011 @ 9:32 am

    Ooh I want one now! Yum!!

  4. 4

    Jenny Flake — March 11, 2011 @ 9:35 am

    That last photo is so gorgeous! making me want a mint bar asap!!

  5. 5

    Sandra Simmons — March 11, 2011 @ 9:48 am

    THANK YOU for posting the WW points! I would love to make this but 7 is steep and would just multiply since I would probably eat the whole pan!

  6. 6

    Tracy — March 11, 2011 @ 9:53 am

    Perfect for St. Patty’s Day! Yum!

  7. 7

    Laurel — March 11, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

    These look so delicious, and pretty! We’re featuring all things GREEN this week on the M&T Spotlight and I’d love for you to submit this. http://www.makeandtakes.com/spotlight

  8. 8

    Evan Thomas — March 12, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

    Yum! I would hope for a fudgier brownie but even so these sound terrific. I made a recipe similar to this back in January. Dare I say they were my favorite brownies ever?

  9. 9

    Brian @ A Thought For Food — March 12, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

    One of my favorite things that my mom makes is a chocolate mint bar… that’s exactly like this.

    I just read your note that said that they’re good cold… YES! We always kept them in the freezer. It’s so much better that way.

  10. 10

    bridget {bake at 350} — March 12, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

    Oh, I’m so craving chocolate and mint right now. Have something planned for next week, but it’s not light….and it SHOULD be; I’m *trying* to be good! ;) Darn those WW points!

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Lori!

  11. 11

    Barbara | VinoLuciStyle — March 12, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

    I’ve been making a non light version of these for holiday gift baskets for yeasr. I’m anxious to try these and see the difference.

    One thing; that top layer used to be a problem until I started using a warm knife. Dip your knife into very hot water before slicing the squares, it should help to keep it from cracking without having to let the dessert warm up.

  12. 12

    grace — March 13, 2011 @ 12:09 am

    bliss. yes, these are perfect for good ol’ st patty’s day, but they’re more than welcome in my belly any day. :)

  13. 13

    anjali — March 14, 2011 @ 12:02 am

    These look so delicious! I have a feeling I’ll be making these someday soon.

  14. 14

    Jeannie — March 17, 2011 @ 10:29 am

    looks so good! I am so drooling !

  15. 15

    Heather — April 17, 2011 @ 10:29 am

    Made this yesterday and I must say it’s delish!!!!!! Cannot stop eating this and I still need to bring it to my moms for Sunday dinner!!

  16. 16

    WEndy Moor — December 17, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

    THESE ARE SO GOOD. My sister made them last year. Couldn’t believe they were “light.” So glad I found this recipe :)

  17. 17

    Pat Kachold — December 20, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

    I call them Frango Mint Bars. They are one of my must bake Christmas bars.
    I’ve been making these for at least 20 years. Don’t remember where the recipe came from but they are a seasonal favorite of mine. I do make them on special occasions When asked. Everyone should have this recipe in their recipe box.
    Yummy

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