Anytime is the perfect time to use a slow cooker, but especially during the fall and winter season when you are busy running around getting costumes, buying gifts, or baking for school and office parties. At the end of the day, what many of us look forward to the most is a comforting meal that is already prepared once we step foot in the door.
Stews are one of the best things you can make in a slow-cooker because the meat tenderizes perfectly and winter vegetables hold up to longer cooking times. Sweet potatoes, instead of regular russets, add natural sugars to the party and when cooked with hearty beef, enhance the sauce. Cumin, an earthy spice, is a great addition to balance out the flavors and create another layer of warmth to the stew, like your best down jacket on a cold day.
I love to make a big batch of stew on cooler days when I know the fog will soon be rolling in, and I have something comforting to enjoy at dinnertime. I like a nice big bowl of stew with a full-bodied red wine like a Syrah or Zinfandel, but a rich Chardonnay would be nice too.
2 lbs. beef stew meat, chunks
4 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 teaspoon onion powder
fresh parsley, optional
1. Salt and pepper your stew meat generously. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to insert of slow cooker and place over medium-high heat. *If you don’t have a slow-cooker with insert, cook stew in a regular pot and pour ingredients in slow cooker afterwards.
2. Add stew meat to pot and sear on all sides, about 8 minutes. Dice onion, slice celery into large chunks and mince garlic. Remove beef from pot with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl.
3. Add onion, celery and garlic to pot with another tablespoon of olive oil and saute on medium heat for 3 minutes.
4. Add dried spices – thyme, cumin and onion powder to onion mixture and stir. Cook for 2 minutes.
5. Stir in tomato paste and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add beef broth and 1 cup of water to pot and stir, continuing cooking for 3 minutes.
6. Add sweet potatoes and seared stew meat to pot and stir to combine. Place insert into slow-cooker. *If you are using a regular stove top pot, pour ingredients into your slow cooker.
7. Cook on high for 4 hours. Ladle stew into bowls. Top with fresh parsley. Enjoy!