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Weeknight Scramble? Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew to the Rescue!

Weeknight Scramble? Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew to the Rescue!

January 24, 2011
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Finding quick weeknight meals continues to challenge me. Why is that? I have all the “make these meals in 20 minutes or less” cookbooks. I just struggle to pair my grocery shopping with easy recipes.

Fortunately, when I think of great winter dishes, I’m reminded that I have an electric chef just begging to make me a hot meal while I’m away at work: my slow cooker! All it takes is a little forethought, ten minutes of prep in the morning, and our dinner is ready – like magic! – when we walk through the door.

The slow cooker trick could be applied just about any night of the week for us, but recently Ryan and I spent a weeknight evening with my sister, Laura, while her roomies were out of town. Laura works full-time for a non-profit, I work my day job and Ryan was going to be spending the day studying and running errands. What a perfect time to try out a new slow cooker recipe – Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew.

Now, I’ve made beef stew before – or perhaps I should say that I’ve “made up” beef stew with whatever veggies were in my fridge and pantry.  But this recipe is different. Not only does it include sweet potatoes (not my usual), it also includes parsnips, a root vegetable that I had never purchased before in my life (and couldn’t have picked out of a line up). Fun! What’s not to love about trying new twists on your standard staples? And this recipe twist is simple.

Begin prepping your ingredients. Scrub the Yukon Gold potatoes and sweet potato clean.

 

Like I mentioned, I had never worked with parsnips before, so this was a surprise to me: sometimes parsnips come dipped in paraffin to preserve their shelf life. If you purchase your parsnips that way, you will be even more motivated to peel the parsnip (and wax) before using them in your stew. After the peeling is finished, slice the parsnips.

Note: in doing a little post-stew research, I now know that the larger a parsnip gets, the more woody that center is. So, I probably should have trimmed the center out of my parsnips. Oh well, though a little firmer in the middle, the parsnips still cooked fine. Cut both types of potatoes into chunks.

 

Now it’s time to brown the meat. I bought slow cooker beef so it was already cubed for me. I highly recommend this simple route for meals-on-the-go! Just melt butter in a 10” skillet and then add the garlic and beef.

 

Cook the beef over medium-high heat until the meat is browned on both sides.

 

The browning should only take 4-5 minutes. When it’s done, drain off the fat. Or, you could do what I did and use a slotted spoon or spatula to move the meat (sans fat) into the slow cooker.

 

After transferring the beef, add all of the other ingredients to the slow cooker – veggies, beef broth, tomatoes…

 

...dried thyme leaves and Hoisin sauce (the sauce is the key for that great flavor!).

 

I used a spatula to mix the sauce in a little. If you’re following the recipe word-for-word, your crock pot should look something like this.

 

But, we consider recipes “guidelines” more than actual rules, so we added some mushrooms for good measure (we love our mushrooms!). Now cover your slow cooker and set it to “Low”. Head off to work and you’re set!

 

Eight hours later, you’ll arrive home to the rich aroma of ready-and-waiting dinner! The ingredients will have cooked down to a nice stew.

 

Serve your Hearty Beef Stew up with some warm take-and-bake bread from your local bakery and you’re ready to eat.

 

And here are Ryan and Laura sitting down to our meal together. What a relief to have dinner ready to go when we all arrived at the house!

 

Try your own Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew, then rate and review the recipe online.

Up next, Becky will share a chocolate dessert that feeds a crowd.

Amanda is paid to write for the Land O’Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.
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