What better way to weather the effects of the Polar Vortex than with stew. Right? First, let’s talk about the Polar Vortex….does this remind anyone of The Day After Tomorrow? The term alone makes me think if I stick my face outside it will instantly freeze. Like in a nano-second. Like a wooly mammoth. Isn’t that how the dinosaurs died? Am I freaking you out yet? Sorry, let’s move on.
I also have the Ebola Virus…or a cold…either way, I feel like I never want to get out of bed. But being a mom, that’s not possible. Plus, I have to keep plugging away in the kitchen like a mad scientist. And when I’m sick, I feel foggy and can’t think straight so there were some not so good ideas in the kitchen lately. I’ll spare you from the nitty gritty but I’m glad it was trash day today. I had to get rid of the evidence.
This Slow Cooker Beef and Ale Stew was a good idea. It’s an old recipe that I adapt over and over again. It all depends on what type of alcoholic beverage I have lying around that day. This day we had ale leftover from New Year’s. We have a lot of ale leftover. Apparently, we didn’t have a lot of ale drinkers that evening. You will see recipes with ale again, I’m sure. Hang tight. I’m on it.
I know a lot of you work and are looking for dump and go recipes….you can do that to this if you’d like but, I warn you, the flavors will be a little dim. Browning the meat creates so much depth to the stew I really think you should not skip this step. You could brown the meat, sauté the vegetables and deglaze the pan in advance, store the ingredients in the slow cooker crock in the refrigerator and then plug it in before you go to work. It’s really worth the time you put in when preparing the stew and, I promise, you will be rewarded.
If you’re going to ignore my advice and skip the browning steps…..place the cut up chuck roast in the bottom, place the vegetables on top, herbs on the veggies and then dump in the ale and broth.
But brown in advance….that’s all I’m sayin’. (and serve with crusty bread)
Slow Cooker Beef and Ale Stew
3 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, cut into large chunks
3 large celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
12 ounces beer (I used Blue Moon Harvest Ale)
3 1/2 cups low sodium beef stock
1/2 cup all purpose flour, divided
salt and pepper
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over med-high heat. Quickly toss the meat with 3 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper. Add the meat to the frying pan and brown on all sides. Do not crowd the pan and cook in batches if necessary. (It took me 4 batches for a 3 pound roast.) Transfer the cooked beef to a bowl and set aside. Add the onion and celery and cook over med-high heat until softened and the onions are translucent. Add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes, stir in the garlic and sauté for 1 minute longer. Stir in the thyme and bay leaves and then add the ale. Stir the mixture being sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Transfer the meat to the slow cooker and add the vegetable/ale mixture on top. Pour the stock over the stew mixture and cover. Cook the stew on high for 5-6 hours or low for 8-9 hours. (If using the dump and go method cook the stew on low for 8-10 hours.)
Transfer 3/4 cup of the stew broth to a small bowl and whisk in the remaining flour quickly (and carefully…it will be hot) until there are no lumps. Slowly whisk the flour/broth mixture into the finished stew and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes to thicken slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Leftover stew can be stored in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 3 days and frozen for up to 6 weeks.