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How to give beef stew more punch?

I'm planning on doing a slow cooker beef stew this weekend. Other than the meat itself, it'll be a pretty standard mix; carrots, onions, potatoes and celery. Every recipe I've tried including my mother's, I've found hearty but ultimately bland. I want to give it more kick. Last time, I put in cardomom, which was nice. This time I'm thinking of paprika. Would that work? Any other suggestions?

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  1. 1/2 a chipotle? Or deglaze w/Port.

    4 Replies
    1. re: thedaniels

      Oh port, absolutely. This is what I've used for years now and the stew never lasts long 'cause it gets snarfed up. I've tried a good red wine but it just doesn't get the richness and yummy factor that port adds. I've deglazed with the port and even just added it in during the last hour of cooking with a flour slurry when my stew needed thickening. Either way was good but deglazing with port was better. I add plenty of thyme and marjoram and at least one if not 2 bay leaves. My family isn't particularly fond of paprika so I don't go there unless I'm specifically making a paprika based dish. Also, be sure you are using beef stock or broth that is good and rich. You can't really do a good stew with meat and water. Also be sure you are getting your meat really nice and browned/seared before the slow cooking starts, that's essential to a good rich flavor development. And don't go too light on the salt. All those veggies and meat will need plenty of salt to make them taste more like themselves. I always use plain kosher for stews and save the sea salt for something where I want the flavor of the salt to be more apparent.

      1. re: aggiecat

        I agree at least with a red wine. Red wine really brightens the taste of stew and I am usually not a big red wine fan but it makes a big difference in stew and beef sauces.

        You could probably add a couple of teaspoons of dijon mustard at the end too since that is a big addition to beef pan sauces and what is the stew liquid if it isn't a sauce?

        1. re: aggiecat

          Definitely a robust red wine. But also make sure the beef is really nicely seared/browned on all sides. If the carbohydrates in the meat aren't adequately caramelized the flavors won't really develop. I also brown the veg, esp the onions in the beef fat. Cracked pepper during the braise is essential. I add minced garlic to the jus just before serving. As one who loves spicy, I find an umami-laden stew really doesn't need a spice kick; maybe the blandness is due to a bit of undersalting??

      2. I made Guiness Beef Stew, which is more rich and flavorful to me.

        But, I don't make it in a slow cooker though. I did find a link for one that is done in
        the slow cooker for you.


        6 Replies
        1. re: mcel215

          I second the Guiness suggestion, and add garlic and lots of rosemary.

          1. re: tzurriz

            I third the Guinness suggestion. I had this in a restaurant once and it was awesome- served with a cheddar "cracker" (really just cheddar tossed with flour and fried into a thin crisp patty). I also like a bit of tomato paste to add to the richness. I also use bay leaf and juniper berries, love that flavor.

          2. re: mcel215

            4th--Guinness is a magical ingredient paired with beef...or corned beef...or chocolate...or Bailey's. What is more versatile than that? :)

            1. re: mcel215

              Along similar lines, chimay is wonderful for beef stew.

              1. re: mcel215

                do you have the non slow cooker recipe for the guiness beef stew?

                1. re: rcburli

                  Dust your stew meat with flour. Brown it up really good on all sides. Take it out of the pot (I use a large dutch oven). Throw in a large onion, chunked, and however much chopped garlic you want. Saute until it starts to smell really good. Throw the meat back in the pan. Pour 1/2 a guiness over everything. Toss in some rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Add enough water or stock to cover everything and simmer for at least 2 hours. Add your potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc. Pour in the rest of the beer. Add enough other liquid to cover again and check your seasonings. Simmer for another hour. Tada! You have stew!

              2. I use a good helping of garlic in my beef stew, tons of onions (about double what the recipe calls for), fresh ground black pepper, and paprika & bay leaf.

                2 Replies
                1. re: elfcook

                  Bay leaf was my first thought. Such a tasty little leaf.

                  1. I would recommend following Julia Child's recipe for Beef Bourgouione in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". I have cooked it twice now, and it makes a helluva punch. The 'beefiness' comes from searing the meat chunks, using tomato paste and browning the onions and carrots, and using bacon.

                    I read an article in cooks' illustrated, and they also recommended tomato paste, as well as a couple of anchioves.

                    But yes, a beef stew, with none of the ingredients browned or seared, but merely thrown into a slow cooker with water would be very bland indeed.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: arupiper

                      All of the above plus a hearty dash of Worcestershire Sauce (Wooster) .

                      1. re: arupiper

                        Ditto on the searing and browning.

                        Even when doing a pot roast, my 80+ year old mom still scolds me to this day for not searing it before putting it into the crock pot.

                        An aside - Leftover roast beef was the base for her stew. My dad didn't like leftovers, so Sunday dinner (after church) would be roast beef. Tuesday dinner (night time) would be a simple, but hearty and flavorful beef stew served over rice. It's an art that I've never been able to duplicate.

                        1. re: CocoaNut

                          Third the searing and browning. Make sure your heavy-bottomed pan and oil are extremely hot before you add the meat. There should be a loud SSSSSS when you add the meat.
                          Don't crowd the pan when you sear. Then you're steaming instead of searing. Sear your meat in batches if need be.
                          Begin with a few slices of chopped bacon, if you like.
                          Use concentrated beef stock. Don't use bouillion cubes.
                          Use full-bodied, inexpensive red wine.
                          Adequate salt and freshly cracked pepper (slightly less salt if using canned stock with lots of sodium)
                          I like to add orange zest.
                          Don't use a crock-pot or slow cooker -- the heat isn't hot enough so it won't concentrate the liquids and flavors or form the Maillard reactions on the beef that increase flavor. This is the same reaction that creates flavor when you brown beef.
                          Braise instead, in the oven for two hours at 350 degrees. Liquid should come up not quite to the top of the meat. Use a snug-fitting lid.
                          I like to use instant tapioca as my thickener but you can use flour.

                          All these factors build intensity and develop layers of flavor.

                          Since my sense is that you want the classic rich taste of beef stew, with a great gravy,
                          I don't believe in muddying the classic flavors by adding spices like paprika, smoked paprika, bay leaf, or curry. I don't add tomatoes either, though a tablespoon of tomato paste would be fine.

                          I make a big batch of caramelized onions separately and keep those on hand, and serve a nice dollop of them when I plate. These take a few hours, so make them the day ahead. If I don't add potatoes and carrots to the braising pot, I make roasted garlic mashed potatoes. For the carrots, I steam them, then dress them lightly with good olive oil and freshly cracked pepper and sea salt. Serve this with an average-priced drinkable red wine.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            wow your tips are amazing! thanks for sharing

                      2. Also, instead of salt, soy sauce adds a richer flavor, and the sodium.

                          1. re: meatn3

                            that would be my suggestion. i finish with half a lemon and rosemary or thyme for the last 1/2 hour makes all the flavors pop. and since beef has a sweetish note the bitter from the lemon skin doesn't do a bit of harm. i add lemon to chili and onion soup as well.

                            i should mention that the leon doesn't give it a lemony flavor just pops the other flavors awake.

                            1. re: meatn3

                              Agreed. A touch of acid will brighten the flavor or as it's said "make the flavors pop".

                              Doesn't need to be a lot.

                            2. Worcestershire sauce, bacon, red wine, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, cloves.

                              1. Fresh mushrooms in a slow cooker would be watery, but if you finely chop or grind dry mushrooms, their umami will up the beefiness. If that's too much fuss for you, add a packet of dry onion soup or dry beefy mushroom soup. In that case, don't add any salt to the stew, as the soup mix has lots.

                                1. How much time do you spend tweaking the salt level?

                                  1. Thanks for all the tips! So far I'm thinking of what I already have on hand spice-wise. Do you think lots of garlic and paprika would work?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: ziggystardust

                                      Maybe smoked paprika for a different kind of Mediterranean flavor profile. I always approve of garlic.
                                      Regular sweet or hot paprika will give you a Eastern European influence. Paprika wouldn't be so great with Guiness, though, if you're thinking of adding beer, maybe a pils instead.

                                      1. re: ziggystardust

                                        The usual paprika doesn't have much flavor.

                                        If you don't have bay leaves, *you need them.*

                                        1. re: ziggystardust

                                          I always advocate on behalf of garlic. I use 2 cloves per pound of beef. Paprika, unless we're talking the smoked kind, does not add much of a punchy flavor, though it goes ways towards enhancing the color of the stew. I also think bay leaves and plenty of thyme make for a flavorful stew.

                                          Other spices to consider: cinnamon and allspice. They warm the stew and give it a mouth-filling flavor. Consider adding a bit of acid at the end to round out the flavors. A dijon mustard might work well in that regard.

                                        2. I am sold on Porcini powder--in any beef mixture (so far). Even roast beef hash. It's umami, not a flavor you can pick out easily, like curry or cinammon.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: blue room

                                            I always keep some dried porcini mushrooms around for exactly this reason, you can punch up that good beefy flavor with it. I'd also use red wine or a stout type beer. Garlic is great but unless you are making something you want to taste very garlicky, you should limit the amount you use to a clove or two (for a beef stew for four, for example). And paprika, in my experience, gives little flavor unless you use a fair amount of it (like a few tablespoons) but this will then make your beef stew taste more goulashy. If you'd like this, then use paprika. If not, try the porcini and the red wine and you'd be amazed how much flavor you add. The other thing I might do (if I didn't add porcini), would be to add some beef bullion powder or onion soup mix. And cook your carrots, celery and onions in layers: first onions, then celery, then carrots, then start adding your spices and flour and finally your wet ingredients. I find if I give things a chance to cook and let the flavors develop, there's more depth to the taste of the overall dish.

                                            1. re: SharaMcG

                                              I use a dozen whole garlic cloves all the time in a braise or pot of beans ... if cooked whole, they are mild. It's only when you smash them raw that they're so intense ... that's why that 40 cloves of garlic recipe is palatable.

                                            2. re: blue room

                                              The dust from dried shiitake works for this, too. (make it in the blender or coffee grinder).

                                              For stew, if you want to get really serious about the browning of the chunks, mix shiitake dust and flour 50/50 for the browning.

                                              After cutting the beef chunks, I ziploc marinate them in a mix of fish sauce and dark mushroom soy, then blot dry carefully.

                                              In last hour of gravy reduction, add more of this 50/50 mix.

                                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                                really wonderful and new idea for beef stew...giving it a try this week...thanks!

                                            3. Brown the meat ~~ Season and sautee/brown the vegetables a little ~~
                                              Worcestershire Sauce ~~ Bay Leaves ~~ Beef Broth ~~ Rotel ~~ Red Wine ~~ Thyme towards the end ~~ Garlic


                                              1. I've got nothing against punching up a stew with herbs, spices, or exotic braising liquids. But if the stew is bland to begin with, your end results are going to leave something to be desired regardless of what additions you make.

                                                The biggest key for me is browning the meat well. Not just cooking it until it loses its reddish color, but subjecting it to very high heat (skillet, broiler, gas grill, blowtorch, whatever) until it has a really good mahogany-colored crust on the outside.

                                                The next most important thing is your braising liquid. Very beefy beef stock makes a big difference. Punch it up with Better than Bouillon if you have to. A little wine is welcome, too, especially if you're using tomatoes.

                                                Finally, there's salt. Any time somebody complains about bland food I wonder whether it's been salted properly. If you've never been in a professional kitchen you'd be amazed at how much salt the cooks use. Of course if you have health issues that mandate limited salt intake, your cardiovascular system trumps your taste buds, but otherwise, try using more salt; It makes food taste better.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: alanbarnes


                                                  READ the above post.

                                                  I would suggest bacon – brown 4-6 sliced of diced bacon, remove the bacon and then BROWN the meat in the bacon fat, then add the vegetables and sweat them. Finally deglaze with some red wine (you can use beer if you like but I don’t like the taste it imparts others love it though)

                                                  Then reread about the stock/braising liquid.

                                                  Let me stress something here – just adding flavors to a bland stew will give a flavored blandness, you need to first rectify you stew base and make that flavorful.

                                                    1. re: RetiredChef

                                                      Yes, RetiredChef is indeed hard-core and old-school!

                                                      I love what he has to say. Special thanks for the sage restaurant advice re: adding flavors to a bland stew. Indeed, a restaurant's "tricks" are based mostly in its stocks.

                                                      1. re: shaogo

                                                        Very much agree with the Chef!

                                                        Another issue I have encountered with slow cookers (in addition to lack of caramelization) is that they do not reduce the broth or sauce and concentrate the flavors.
                                                        When I make soup or stew, after browning, I deglaze and let the wine or whatever reduce.... then the stock reduces as the soup or stew simmers... concentrating the flavor more... with a lid on the crock pot, this doesn't seem to happen very much, since the steam condenses on the lid and the water drips back into the crock pot.

                                                        I believe chefs often even strain a stew, and then reduce and thicken the sauce more on the stove top to concentrate the flavors, if the stew has been slow cooked, covered with a lid, in the oven. You might try something like that after your crock pot stew is done.

                                                        Second tip: Are you using beef cuts with any bone still in there? The bones (eg short ribs) will contribute a lot of flavor and gelatin and essentially create a stock as you cook. If you are using cubes of beef, you could try throwing in a pack of neck bones or shank bones or something.

                                                      2. re: RetiredChef

                                                        I think you have summed it up beautifully! di45

                                                    2. A couple of people have said it already, but don't underestimate the role of salt in your stew. Salt and pepper the meat before browning it. Salt the stew while it's cooking, taste it after the salt has had a chance to blend in, add more salt if you think it needs it. I also like to use soy sauce to add saltiness and an extra boost of umami.

                                                      1. For something totally different, you might consider Epi's Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine and Hoisin...utterly awesome with horseradish mashed potatoes--I think I used 1/3 cup of the hoisin last time to cut the sweetness a bit but this is great and unique:

                                                        1. All these suggestions are great, esp. alanbarnes.

                                                          I always add a little acid right at the end for any braised dish. For beef stew, a few splashes of balsamic or hot sauce at the very end perks up the dish.

                                                          1. Lots of great ideas here.

                                                            One stew I really like from epicurious is the mahogany beef stew. It has some red wine and some hoisin sauce in it. Commenters to the recipe recommended reducing somewhat the amount of hoisin called for a bit, which is how I do it. But it adds a sweet-sour spicy note that is good.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: karykat

                                                              karykat, we're on the same page...see my post above!

                                                              1. re: Val

                                                                Indeed! How did I miss your post? And I see we follow the same approach in cutting the hoisin a bit.

                                                                1. re: karykat

                                                                  KK, yep...and have you tried adding mushrooms to that stew? I noticed that many reviewers have enjoyed that addition.

                                                                  1. re: Val

                                                                    Will give it a try.

                                                                    I think we're due for another batch. Love to have some small bowlfuls in the freezer for fast dinners or lunch.

                                                            2. A little cayenne, fresh herbs, alcohol come to mind ... I like vodka for releasing alcohol-soluble flavors since it has such a long shelf life (I'm not a beer drinker). Or whatever wine you have in the fridge ...

                                                              Oh, bay leaves are what gives my beef stew the flavor I really like. And add a dozen whole garlic cloves ...

                                                              1. Some curry powder might add a nice dimension to it.

                                                                1. A "beurre manie" won't add any additional flavor but it does thicken the sauce (or as Julie Child put it "enrobes" the other ingredients) and adds a nice silky texture. I have a stew recipe calling for 14 ounces beef broth, 1.5 cups red wine and 14 ounces undrained canned tomatoes. After total cooking time, combine three tablespoons all-purpose flour and two tablespoons softened butter in a small bowl. Mix with your fingers or a fork until it becomes a paste. Add 1/2 cup stew liquid and whisk until smooth. Stir back into the stew until thoroughly combined.

                                                                  1. Dried Porcinis and some pinot noir should do the trick!

                                                                    1. A splash of fish sauce. Also great for tomato sauces and most hearty soups.

                                                                      1. Better Than Bouillion -- BTB is a stock base quickly adds a lot of flavor notes. Made with real beef (also available in several other versions like veg or chicken).

                                                                        1. A few minced anchovies sauteed with the onions after browning the meat give a nice added dimension to the stew.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: King of Northern Blvd

                                                                            Cook's Illustrated recommends adding glutamate rich foods to boost the savory meaty flavor of stews -- anchovies, salt pork (bacon was too smoky), tomato paste, carmelized mushrooms.

                                                                            Anchovies are particularly effective. Besides glutamate, anchovies contain the compound inosinate which has a synergistic effect on glutamate -- heightening its meaty taste by up to fifteenfold

                                                                            1. re: Norm Man

                                                                              I knew there was something about anchovies I always liked.

                                                                              1. re: Norm Man

                                                                                Perhaps this (the anchovies) explains the reason Worcestershire Sauce is often an additive. On the ingredient list, anchovies are preceded only by vinegar and sweeteners - Lea and Perrin brand.

                                                                                1. re: Norm Man

                                                                                  A little soy sauce also goes a long way in a beef stew. If you add in a little, you can't tell there's soy in it but it gives it a great deep flavor.

                                                                              2. If you just throw dry spices into liquid, nothing much happens. You're better off heating them gently in some oil, and then melting your onions and browning your beef chunks in that same oil.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. brown the meat first and then after it's done, reduce the sauce down by at least half

                                                                                  1. I like to use Chateau Briand, then lightly flour, shake off any excess and brown.
                                                                                    The usual vegetables;potatoes (unless its going over mashed or a baked potato) carrots, tomatoes, onions, peas at the end with the fresh parsley and thyme. I do like to the small pearl onions for the stew. You can add parsnips or other root vegetables of your choice, but personally I like the carrots, peas, pearl onions, and then ladle over mashed potatoes. If not then quarter somer yukons, they're the best potato to use in stew.

                                                                                    A splash of brandy is nice, a tablespoon of bacon fat, and fresh thyme.
                                                                                    I personally use canned tomatoes, cut them up, and use the juice. Also soften some dried shitakes or dried mushrooms of your choice, clean them and before adding them to the stew, slice them in large pieces. Also add some fresh white mushrooms chopped.
                                                                                    Thicken the stew if you need to with wondra. By browning the meat and using flour first, helps the gravy develop. Here is a dish that benefitst by using roasted garlic. Ahead of time roast the garlic, and then when cooking, squeeze into the hot beef broth.
                                                                                    Beef broth is my broth of choice, canned works fine for week night stew. If you have time gear up and make your own, freeze it and use that.
                                                                                    A warmed baquette is perfect with this dinner, along with a nice salad of mixed baby greens and a dijon mustard vinagrette. And absolutely serve a nice red wine.
                                                                                    I don't have any qualms with cardamom, or paprika, but for me once you use those spices you have changed your stew into something else.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                      Note that chateaubriand refers to two very different cuts of meat. I'd always heard the term used to refer to a roast from the center of the tenderloin. So imagine how excited I was when a local grocery store advertised it for $1.99 a pound. Oops. Turns out they're using the name to describe a thick-cut sirloin steak.

                                                                                      Presumably you're talking about using the sirloin. Tenderloin is less than ideal for stewing. And that could be a fairly expensive misunderstanding...

                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                        It's a beautiful thick cut correct. Not tough though at all and not inexpensive. I like to use this cut when I can find it, for it's tenderness, and nice flavor. I know what you mean, I've seen some cuts called London Broil, and when I purchased that after being told it was the same thing, I was very much disappointed. I'd rather of made it out of a piece of chuck it has better flavor.

                                                                                    2. Here's the stew I made yesterday...it was very hearty and flavorful. Browned the meat, put it in the pot. Sauteed garlic and 2 onions, along with thick sliced king oyster mushrooms. put it in the pot, poured in close to a bottle of red wine, and a container of Trader joes organic beef stock. As it simmered, I added some worcestershire sauce and a squirt of anchovy paste, some bay leaves, ground black pepper, a dried hot pepper, a teaspoon of raw sugar, a package of dry porcini's and a package of dried trumpet mushrooms.. After about an hour of simmering, I added a bag of fingerling potatoes and some carrots. After another hour or so, I added a chopped bunch of parsley, and a lot of parsnips cut in chunks. As it cooked, I occasionally added water if necessary (not much) and a few squirts of fish sauce. When basically done, I added cubed turnip and let it cook another 10 minutes...served over egg noodles. We all loved it...and it tasted even better today.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: EricMM

                                                                                        NIce. It's a very cool gray day here, perfect weather for stew, you're really inspiring me.

                                                                                      2. <How to give beef stew more punch? >

                                                                                        There are several things you can do to increase the depth of flavor.
                                                                                        1. cook it the day before you plan to serve it.
                                                                                        2. Sear the beef well before adding anything else to the pot. In fact, take the seared beef out and saute the mirepoix by itself. SALT both the meat and the mirepoix. Not tons, just a bit. You will be surprised how little of any seasoning your stew needs at the end.
                                                                                        3. Cook some bacon and sear the beef in the bacon fat. Add the bacon pieces to your stew near the end.
                                                                                        4. Use a fruity (not a tannic) red wine for at least half the liquid.
                                                                                        5. I always add some kind of herbs. Sometimes a few branches of fresh rosemary and thyme, but a good half-tablespoon of dried Herbs of Provence rubbed between the heels of your hands while adding is just as good as the fresh. I always add two dried bay leaves.

                                                                                        1. How about a jar of Salsa, you can pick a jar of medium old el paso brand or soemthing similar.

                                                                                          1. Guiness is a good suggestion as an addition to the braising liquid.
                                                                                            Red wine also works nicely.
                                                                                            To the veggies I always add some rutabaga and parsnip along with the usual suspects.

                                                                                            For seasoning, rosemary for me is a must. I use paprika in there too, but would not use any paprika other than real Hungarian paprika (the sweet variety) which is readily available in grocery stores nowadays. Any other paprika is pretty much a waste of time.

                                                                                            Use a slow cooker if you must, but I still think the best results are had by braising on stovetop or in the oven.

                                                                                            1. tablespoon of anchovie paste or mash up a few anchovies with oil from tin.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: beefa

                                                                                                Here's a recipe I use. Like others have said, it tastes better the second day. Make sure to use high quality stone-ground mustard.

                                                                                                Mustard Herb Beef Stew:
                                                                                                1/3 cup flour
                                                                                                3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
                                                                                                1 teaspoon dried thyme (I usually add 2-3 teaspoons)
                                                                                                1 - 11/2 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 inch pieces
                                                                                                2 tablespoons olive oil
                                                                                                1 8-10 oz. package cipolini onions, peeled
                                                                                                4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
                                                                                                1 8 oz. package cremini mushrooms
                                                                                                8 tiny Yukon gold potatoes
                                                                                                3 tablespoons tomato paste
                                                                                                2 tablespoons spicy stone- ground mustard (more to taste)
                                                                                                1 14 oz. can beef broth
                                                                                                1 12 oz. bottle porter or dark beer
                                                                                                1 bay leaf

                                                                                                1. In a large bowl combine flour, parsley, thyme, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, stir to coat. Reserve left over flour mixture.

                                                                                                2. In a 6 quart dutch oven over medium high heat, brown beef, stir in onions, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes. Cook and stir 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, mustard, and remaining flour mixture. Add broth, beer and bay leaf. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1 1/4 hours, until beef is tender. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf. Serve with crusty bread.

                                                                                                6 servings

                                                                                                1. re: sophia519

                                                                                                  Mm, sounds delish, gotta try this one.

                                                                                              2. Cinnamon. Not so much you can identify it, just enough for someone to ask "what is it about this stew that is so delicious?"

                                                                                                1. For a deeper and richer flavor, you should swirl in a couple of spoonfuls of real demi-glace (made from stock) when adding the water/alcohol.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. Here's my favorite beef stew...... substitute where you want - it's really yummy. I love it over garlic mashed potatoes.


                                                                                                    1. I will help you make orgasmic stew in your crock pot.
                                                                                                      First, the beef. It MUST be well browned.
                                                                                                      To get to this point, DRY your cuts & bones before A) deeply browning on ALL SIDES (Tongs are your friends, rely on them & they WILL help you!), or, B) spreading on a single layer at 450 for 45mins
                                                                                                      _IF_ you like garlic, do as we do, pierce the cubed raw meat deeply and insert a whole peeled clove as a "hidden surprise" - insert them well, so they don't escape later.
                                                                                                      _IF_ you dislike garlic, (gasp!) skip it, no biggie.
                                                                                                      _DO_dust heavily with both sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper before browning - We are currently liking the Fresh & Easy mix in the small grinder bottle for $1.99.
                                                                                                      Once your meat & bones (if using bones, which is a WONDERFUL added OOMPH to ANY dish!), are browned, transfer them to the empty slow cooker.
                                                                                                      Second, the veggies:
                                                                                                      Yuo can go with only potatoes, or mix it up big time, totally YOUR CALL, BUT if you want to veer from the land of bland, roast those veggies in an open pan with the meat & bones, or, do the meat & bones stove top while the pan of veggies goes in the oven, (450 for 45, easy to remember, thank you, Martha '-)
                                                                                                      _IF_ you like carrots, know this: They _WILL_ make your stew _SWEET_, no matter HOW you go about it.
                                                                                                      _IF_ you like potatoes, add them when adding the meat and bones, or right after, as in immediately after, peeled, unpeeled, slices, quarter, diced, cubed, red, purple, Yukon Gold, it doesn't matter too very much.
                                                                                                      _IF_ you like parsnips (and who doesn't?), WAIT to add them and _DO_ roast them first ~ Roast a double batch ~ A treble batch! They are sublime!
                                                                                                      _IF_ you like celery (In STEW? Seriously? Pass!), add it mid-way (after 4 hours) - NOTE: Are we speaking "Stew", or "Soup"? Your "Stew" sounds like "Soup", to me...
                                                                                                      _IF_ you are a purist, meat, potatoes + a green veggie: Add 2 pounds of frozen peas to the end product (after 8 hours), when picking out the (Min. 4 large) bay leaves from the slow cooker.
                                                                                                      _IF_ you want a "stick to your bones" saity factor, empty the slow cooker into a big dutch oven / stock pot / whatever you've got, picking out the bones - set aside for sucking for lunch, reheated with a warm loaf and great Shiraz, or hearty stout/ale! - pick out the bay leaves, too (Remember your count when adding them, then, fish, fish, fish!).
                                                                                                      At this point, you should have a big pot of killer tender meat, a knock 'em over base (By adding 4 cups of either organic veggie stock, or tremendous beef stock - NEVER WATER - you are _NOT_ making "soup"! - PLUS a heaping couple of BIG Ts of Better Than Bullion, either Mushroom (for emami), or Beef, or Vegetable/Vegetarian (GOOD STUFF mentioned frequently here for a reason!).
                                                                                                      So, you now have your meat, bones set aside, bay leaves set aside, base & veggies all in a big pot:
                                                                                                      ADD TO THE FINAL POT: 2 pounds of frozen peas (no need to defrost them) and give it a stir over med high heat - you're after a BOIL now...
                                                                                                      While waiting on the boil, make a corn starch slurry with about 1/4 cup of corn starch & 1/2 cup of icy cold water, Stir until smooth like milk - be persistent; it's only difficult the first few strokes, I promise! '-)
                                                                                                      Check your almost-stew. Is it boiling, yet?
                                                                                                      Once at a boil, or quite near, begin stirring with one hand and pouring a thin stream of the slurry with the other.
                                                                                                      Once all in, keep stirring until it boils, then, continue until boiled 3 mins., min.
                                                                                                      Turn off the heat.
                                                                                                      Place bread in the over to heat through.
                                                                                                      Stir the stew for the heck of it ~ It's a beauty to behold! "-)
                                                                                                      Serve in deep bowls, in heaping servings, with nothing but excellent favored breads to eat!
                                                                                                      Hard as it is to imagine, the next day it will be EVEN BETTER!
                                                                                                      Some spell it S-T-E-W, but I find it better than S-E-X!

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: SusanaTheConqueress

                                                                                                        450 for 45 minutes just to "brown"? Aren't your cubes of beef roasted to little dried nubs?

                                                                                                        1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                                          I figured it was a typo and she means FIVE minutes.

                                                                                                        2. re: SusanaTheConqueress

                                                                                                          A lot of this sounds good, but I like sex quite a lot. Poking the garlic into the meat is pretty cool (for a stew).
                                                                                                          I am confused by cooking times. Four hours? I don't want it all to be mush. Then you suggest we stir it! Even mushier after that. I'd rather do a rue early on and brown it. I like celery. It is one of the cornerstones of good stock.
                                                                                                          You did do a heroic effort to write all this down. Thanks

                                                                                                        3. Well-marbled top chuck (5 lbs) is my meat of choice and I toss in some dried orange peel into the marinade and again halfway thru cooking.

                                                                                                          1. Saute/brown a couple of TBSP tomato paste and add in.

                                                                                                            1. I add a couple tablespoons of tomato paste to the recipe I follow. Also, I substitute beef consomme for the beef stock that the recipe calls for. Adding sprigs of fresh thyme gives a boost.

                                                                                                              1. I won't make any suggestions as to the herbs and spices because that's really a matter of personal preference. I enjoy the classic French taste (burgundy, garlic, mirepoix, thyme) but you can certainly substitute for another combination of aromatics and herbs/spices.

                                                                                                                As to preparation, though, there are a couple of things you can do that will *definitely* help. First, be sure to brown the individual pieces of meat over medium-high heat in a stainless pan. Nonstick won't work. It should only take a couple of minutes per side -- you don't want to cook the beef, but just form a nice flavorful crust on the outside. To do this, you mustn't crowd the pan (juices will flow out of the beef and if there are too many, the pieces will simmer in the liquid rather than browning). It helps to dry the pieces with a paper towel before you toss them in the pan.

                                                                                                                One final note: You might consider steaming the potatoes on the side with some fresh herbs, and serving them alongside the stew rather than cooking them *in* the stew. Potatoes are very absorbent; cooking them in the stew tends to dry out the stew and decrease the intensity of its flavor, in my experience.

                                                                                                                Transfer the browned pieces to the slow cooker, and deglaze your cooking pan by heating a mixture of beef stock and wine/cognac/whatever you like over high heat while scraping the sides of the pan. The objective is to scrape up all the browned stuff from the bottom and sides of the pan so that it dissolves into your liquid. Transfer this liquid to the slow cooker.

                                                                                                                Finally, when your stew is done cooking, strain out the cooking liquid and use it to make the sauce! It's really easy -- just pour it into a pan, bring it to a boil, and reduce till it's about half of its original volume (or until it has a syrupy consistency that coats a spoon). Turn off the heat, stir in a pat of butter, and voila! This will make a delicious, punchy sauce to plate the food with.

                                                                                                                1. i used ground coriander in some chili -- with red wine -- for new years day. i think it was really, really good (and others agreed). paprika would be good, too. maybe you could also add some ground chilles, dried and/or fresh.

                                                                                                                  1. I found adding a package of seasoning for beef stew; McCormick makes one especially for slow cookers, gives the stew that added flavoring. Also, I always add a bay leaf .

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: marycooks

                                                                                                                      McCormick® Beef Stew Seasoning Mix. INGREDIENTS:
                                                                                                                      It does not have a disclaimer saying it is free of MSG as some of McCormick's other seasoning mixes do.

                                                                                                                    2. You might also want to look into the kind of salt you're using. I've recently been introduced into the wide, wide world of salt and while good ole iodine table salt gets the job done, more pungent salts (think flake sea salt, pink Himalayan sea salt, Hawaiian black salt) really back more flavor and punch. Of course I understand that you probably don't have racks of salts sitting around but I'd say it's worth the investment. Experiment!

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: khoops

                                                                                                                        Use of expensive salts makes some sense when added at the last minute or table, where the salt is consumed before it fully dissolves into the food. But in a stew the distinctive size, shape and color of these salts is lost. And as noted in many 'kosher salt' threads, the density of flake salt is not as great as common table salt. A teaspoon of kosher is not as salty as a teaspoon of table.

                                                                                                                        But if you salt to taste, as opposed to measure from a recipe, the difference in salts should not matter.

                                                                                                                        As to the effect of the impurities in sea salt, I wonder if you could detect them in a blind taste test. For example, dissolve the same weight of different salts in a cups of water, and sample without looking. This would compensate for differences in crystal size and color.

                                                                                                                        By the way, how do they produce Himalayan sea salt? :)

                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                          Fair enough. I'm a bit of a novice, just stretching my legs of limited knowledge, if you will :)
                                                                                                                          I only first heard of it because my brother got some for my parents a Christmas or so back, and it really is just delicious. I'm not familiar but I did a little research and here's a decent link: http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/lear...

                                                                                                                          1. re: khoops

                                                                                                                            I was given a slab of the pink Himalayan salt a couple of Christmas's back. In that for it is best for serving, though I suppose I could shave of some for cooking.

                                                                                                                            I have couple of the colored Hawaiian salts which I use mainly on salads where color contrast works well (e.g. the black gains on tomato).

                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                              I'm a big naysayer when it comes the current fascination with salts. Seriously, non-iodized table salt tastes just the same as kosher salt when it's been dissolved in liquid. And most sea salts are so subtly flavored that they're only distinctive when you get a pretty strong hit of the straight stuff used as a finishing salt.

                                                                                                                              But a good strong 'alaea salt doesn't just bring a pretty red color to the party. It's got a strong earthy flavor that comes through even when it's used as an ingredient. I bought a few pounds dirt cheap (pun intended) on-island, and the stuff just can't be replicated for things like laulau and poke.

                                                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                I believe CI/ATC did a salt taste - and their conclusion was that the salts make NO difference in flavor in applications like stews where the salt is melted in to a liquid.

                                                                                                                                They did say some of the specialty salts work well in applications where it is sprinkled before serving, but mostly as a texture thing.

                                                                                                                      2. Oops, pardon the double post. I'd also warn to look into the kind of salt you get, since many are finishing salts, not to be cooked with but added just before serving for just the right balance.

                                                                                                                        1. Add a little red wine or cider vinegar to the final dish. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

                                                                                                                          1. I am not sure what you mean by punch. If you are looking for heat, you can simply add hot sauce or cayenne or tabasco, whichever you prefer, a little while before serving. On the other hand, if you want deeper flavor without heat, your choices are things like more garlic, herbs, or savory vegetables. For example, when I make veal stew in a slow cooker or on the stovetop (very low heat), I add sliced red and green bell peppers about twenty minutes before serving, and the flavors infuse the stew with a nice, deep flavor without getting soggy or shedding their skins. If you want more heat too, you could use Poblanos, which are medium hot, or other kinds of peppers to do the same. I know of one cook who would put a whole pickled cherry pepper or two in the sauce, and them remove them prior to serving. It didn't add very noticeable heat, but it did add flavor.

                                                                                                                            If herbs and savory items are more your idea, consider bay leaf, or oregano.

                                                                                                                            Just an idea...

                                                                                                                            1. I really like using both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, and also Lawry's reduced sodium seasoned salt. Also, I use red onions

                                                                                                                              1. I love beef stew, and mixing it up a bit.

                                                                                                                                My current favourite flavour combination is bay leaf, a few hits of worchestershire, dark beer, and dehydrated onions (along with the fresh... they add a unique flavour)

                                                                                                                                1. I always add a can of V8 to my beef stew, I prefer the spicy V8 but if it is not available in my pantry, a regular V8 with added red pepper flakes is the same.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: jennifer_lb

                                                                                                                                    spicy v-8 makes a good quickie tomato soup, too.

                                                                                                                                  2. Just found how to revisit an area tonight; sorry for the delay in responding to comments on my initial response here.
                                                                                                                                    #1. Yes. 45mins at 450 would render tidbits rather beyond overcooked. I was negligent in failing to indicate I set the bones around the perimeter of a large roasting pan with a vast chunk of meat in the center, then, cut it up after the 45 mins. Sorry about that confusion. Were I doing the already cut up (by my own hand) cubes (which would NOT be classified as tidbits by anyone, ever), I'd flour (or toss in seasoned corn starch after first seasoning the cubes themselves), then, brown in olive oil, stovetop, in SMALL batches, well spaced & using tongs to get every side. That part was VERY POORLY written on my part. Maybe I'll start preparing responses offline, then returning to upload after a careful review. _Maybe_ '-)
                                                                                                                                    #2. A squirt of tomato paste from the tube, well-browned sounds DELISH! GREAT ADDITION for more DEPTH!
                                                                                                                                    #3. The McCormick's is just too, too "chemically" for me - I'd pass if at all possible.
                                                                                                                                    #4. The combination of potatoes (sweet and not) is intriguing and "worth it" for an adventure!
                                                                                                                                    #4b. The idea of steaming potatoes on the side: Eh, not so much, though my don't-let-anything-on-my-plate-touch-its-neighbor daughter would LOVE a "deconstructed stew", VERY Jacques Derrida '-)
                                                                                                                                    #5. I can "see" the celery in the stock / consomme, but not in the stew, but that's just me.
                                                                                                                                    #6. SALT: I do, in fact, have a 4' cabinet from Home Depot with one shelf devoted to nothing but SALT & PEPPER ~ The array is a beauty to behold and the tastes run the gammut! ~ It's been a collection in progress and has just about anything I've ever been intrigued by since 200, or so ~ It started with a simple vintage Melamine "wooden bowl" for the pepper and "exploded" from there. The shelf below it is half & half olive oils and balsamic vinegars ~ varietal vinegars ~ soon, my OWN vinegars (after this past weekends The Splendid Table's mention of using wine to make your own at home being SO EASY! :-) So, all the SALT TALK caught my fancy in this thread and I chime in with this: Do what you WANT to do! Experiment! Explore! For salting my pasta water this month I'm liking a very fine sea salt. Tasty! :-)
                                                                                                                                    Um, what else was there?
                                                                                                                                    Oh, yes! The MEAT itself!
                                                                                                                                    I was assuming BEEF for the meat. Can't abide LAMB - too, too many "traumas" with poorly prepared lamb to recount! '-)
                                                                                                                                    Get what you can afford & remember: Tri-tip never fails '-) Chuck IS GOOD But, so is Sirloin and so is Round.
                                                                                                                                    For the bones, oh PLEASE _DO_ try ox tails! They are THE BEST if left to go low & slow after browning, as in a stew ~ Just TOO GOOD FOR WORDS! The sticky gelatinous quality is unequaled by ANYTHING else! :-) YUM!
                                                                                                                                    I intended to share with you that grabbing some BEEF RIBS when on sale and just tossing them into the oven, 450 for 45 again - whole - unseasoned & untrimmed - a tall collar of foil around the rim to minimize splatter in the oven - Then, tossing them into the stock pot and letting them go with an onion, some celery - (a stump or two) + some bay leaves & pepper corns halfheartedly cracked in a big ceramic Korean mortar and pestle in cool water to cover, uncovered, overnight - (and even into the next day!) LOW & SLOW will yeild a liquid (after straining and discarding all, then, skimming the fat), that's EXCELLENT for your "base" ~ (I'm sorry but I'm new to expressing myself here and "take some steps for granted", such as this) ~ ALSO: The ribs are usually on sale in SUMMER, but I simply do not CARE - the end product is "worth it" and freezes BEAUTIFULLY!
                                                                                                                                    I've toyed with a freezer of summer ribs & a winter of roasting them, but haven't, yet. If you do this step correctly, you'll end up with "beef gelatin to die for". :-)
                                                                                                                                    And, I also took for granted, "ANY TIME you're browning meat in oven, or stove top, DEGLAZE! Like 90% of caries are in 10% of tooth surface, 90% of intensity in flavor is in the 10% (or so) found by deglazing! '-)
                                                                                                                                    Deglazing IS OUR FRIEND! :-)
                                                                                                                                    I didn't see a mention of a smidgen of anchovies, but they're doable in stew, too...
                                                                                                                                    The mention of "VINEGAR" splashed at the end reminds me more of Prague and uh, Goulash! _Interesting!_ But _NOT_ where "my" interpretation is taking you AT ALL, so "no vinegar" with this way, please. '-)
                                                                                                                                    and as for the 4-hour potatoes in the slow cooker: NO WORRIES - I set the largest model Costco offers on 8-10 hours with raw potatoes quartered lengthwise and have PERFECT fork-tender results everytime.
                                                                                                                                    I'm "famous" for my stew, something that never ceases to amaze as it's truly one of the most SIMPLE dishes to make. :-)
                                                                                                                                    Beef + Liquid + Veggies + Seasoning
                                                                                                                                    Oh! And "starting with a roux ~ Really? Hmmm... I'm not feeling it... I think my way is more of a very prolonges BRAISE
                                                                                                                                    And, as for stirring the pot resulting in "mush": Nope. Never.
                                                                                                                                    My dad's the one with the hand-held industrial immersion blender, not me! '-) No "mush" in my bowls '-)
                                                                                                                                    Caveat: There is PLENTY of THICKNESS from bits in the "base" as it "matures".
                                                                                                                                    I think that covered "stew".
                                                                                                                                    I'll check back - now that I see how to! ;-)

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal


                                                                                                                                        Once you get your first ovenful at 99cents and see the *wonderful beef gelatin* they produce, you'll never pass 'em by again! <3
                                                                                                                                        What's a summer's day in the heat outside, while the kitchen's roasting pan after pan of ribs when the result is: *excellence* as a base for dish after dish? '-)
                                                                                                                                        Embrace the oxtails, too! They've gone up in price since the 70s, but OMGosh they are _so_ ***very*** "worth it", if you have the time to bring them to orgasmic completion - that state of sticky-yummy-suckable-gnawable wonder only oxtails are capable of providing (Insert me "Homer-drooling _here!_) '-)
                                                                                                                                        Gawd I love oxtails! A pound for the cook, a pound for the pot! Does that seem "fair"? I think so! '-)
                                                                                                                                        Could I also suggest "punching it up" with the stew by using a chili verde for "Mexican Guisado" (Mexican Green Sauce-based Stew)?
                                                                                                                                        Brown the meat (Oxtails are *supreme* for this!) & add a variation all your own of this salsa verde recipe shared in this week's Washington Produce weekly, (Copied text from today's edition follows):
                                                                                                                                        To see the newsletter, go here:

                                                                                                                                        Use *canned* "Green Enchilada Sauce" (It'll be A-OK, too), and limit the veggies to potatoes, if any.
                                                                                                                                        And, the final 5 minutes get (1) bunch of clean *cilantro* (Nothing else will suffice!), snipped finely into the pot & stirred in for a finishing bloom of flavor.
                                                                                                                                        Serve this with like 36 decadent flour tortillas (No fat-free/whole wheat - whatever's-good-for-you-type tortillas allowed! '-) and watch the conversation & good times fly!
                                                                                                                                        It's truly an _excellent_ & _simple_ "Punched Up" "Stew" (Guisado
                                                                                                                                        )_This_ everyone_ _will_ _love_ _every_ time_, _always!_
                                                                                                                                        In summers serve with cold beer of choice & winters it goes well with (I know this sounds odd) warm lemonade! :-)
                                                                                                                                        Enjoy "punching it up" - and please, _do_ provide feedback as to your reception of these many suggestions to your quite stimulating thread, when you have a time & inclination to so do. :-)

                                                                                                                                        Edited to lower the case on some words here & there, so as not to appear to be "yelling" in Cyberspace, where nobody knows what you're wearing, but everyone can (apparently) "hear" the "tone" of your keystrokes via case selection '-)

                                                                                                                                    1. this will kill alot of these very serious cooks, but sometimes i just toss meat and veggies into the crockpot, with a bottle of guinness, and come home to awesome stew. i guess i dont have the time to do alot of the stuff mentioned here, or if i do i save it for a special dish. to me stew is, well, stew. my two key flavors i have to have in it or it just aint right are the guinness, and turnips. good fresh ingredients and long slow cooking are the key. i have never had my stew turn out bland. meat. meager potatoes because i dont like them, celery, onion, canned whole tomatoes, carrots, guinness, maybe a shot of marsala, some herbs, and at the end a cup of frozen corn and peas. works every time!

                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: doughartyc

                                                                                                                                        sounds good -- especially today with the blizzard we have.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: doughartyc

                                                                                                                                          You lost me with the _corn_
                                                                                                                                          Corn is good in stew?
                                                                                                                                          I've never even thought of it before.
                                                                                                                                          I see you add carrots, so it's not that "sweet" is lacking...
                                                                                                                                          Is it a balance on starch, since I see you don't care for potatoes?
                                                                                                                                          It's curious to me that corn would be added to a stew like that...
                                                                                                                                          I look forward to reading your response :-)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: SusanaTheConqueress

                                                                                                                                            Anything can be the base for or be added to "stew." See the list for examples. I've always used corn in Brunswick stew. Stew is like soup; there are few or no rules for what goes in it.


                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                              Just today I've added _corn_ to a stew that's on simmer as I type this. I wrote of it + a suggestion to "punch up" stews with condiments offered at the table, as I'll do for this one, tomorrow. Smells _wonderful_ in here right now ~ just the way I like it when it's so very cold and wet outside :-)

                                                                                                                                        2. I totally agree with Chef above. This is one of those situations where the method is critical. Searing meat for the Maillard reaction to occur and the use of bacon is absolutely key. Then just build layers of flavours with your mire poix and alcohol. But not too many layers - there definitely is such a thing as less is better. The cut of meat also makes a difference. Chuck is probably best for its flavour and when braised becomes tender. There is also less fat than other cuts.

                                                                                                                                          A bit of good shaved bitter chocolate can add great depth without overpowering or tasting of chocolate.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                            I wonder what a scoop of mole base would do?
                                                                                                                                            Have you ever tried that, instead of the shaved?
                                                                                                                                            Interesting - and something I'll try - for sure!

                                                                                                                                          2. I haven't read all of the previous 106 replies, so I may be repeating some ingredients. The liquid must be beer and if 12 ounces isn't enough, add some red wine. I've done it...beer and wine don't fight with each other in beef stew. Definitely needs some capsaicin, C18H27NO3, like minced jalapeno for tender tongued diners, or habanero for those who can tolerate the heat. Lots of garlic is helpful. The addition of ground fennel seed as well as the herb mixture usually called Italian seasoning may do the trick.

                                                                                                                                            Buon Appetito!

                                                                                                                                            1. I made one the other weekend and was told it was great.. at least there was none left, so that's good enough for me!

                                                                                                                                              I used a good amount of fresh ground pepper, sweet vermouth instead of sherry, worchestershire (about 2 tbsp) and 1 or 2 tsp of creole seasoning and a pinch of roasted chipotle peppers.

                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: grnidkjun

                                                                                                                                                That's cheating! You are supposed to rely entirely on Maillard reaction and a great bottle of wine. :)

                                                                                                                                                I think the emphasis on carefully browning the meat at the start is characteristic of cooking that uses a light touch when it comes to spices and sauces like Worchestershire and soy.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                  I'm no purist. I tend to put fish sauce in just about everything. Worcestershire sauce? Bring it on. Soy sauce? Ditto. And I'm very fond of chipotle peppers. I say take your flavor where you find it.

                                                                                                                                                  But I still believe that a good browning will improve any stew. Will the difference be as dramatic as in a stew that has simpler flavors? Maybe not. But the difference will still be there.

                                                                                                                                                  As to pouring a bottle of fine wine into a stew pot, you're not going to catch me going there. A $5 Cotes du Rhone will do just fine, thankyouverymuch.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                    lol.. agreed, If I happen to have a bottle of wine open.. then I may use it.
                                                                                                                                                    I was actually pleased with how the vermouth turned out though.
                                                                                                                                                    My recipe actually calls for sherry and I didn't have any.

                                                                                                                                                    Definitely browned the beef good first with a good pre-seasoning of cracked pepper

                                                                                                                                              2. I never have any stew left, no matter how big of pot I make.
                                                                                                                                                Brown meat, add plenty of water and seasoning salt (I like Lowery's) as well as fresh ground pepper, 2 bay leaf's. Simmer about 2 hours (adding water as needed) or until meat is almost fall-apart tender. Add (all to taste) paprika, ground cloves, salt, pepper and BROWN SUGAR (this has always been a key ingredient as it balances nicely with the cloves). The brown sugar gives it a sweet/savory aroma with the other ingredients. Again, this is only to taste of the chef! Then, a can of diced tomato's (or fresh if you have them), one onion chunked, baby carrots, corn, green beans, peas and cubed potatoes. Simmer until carrots and potatoes are done. If necessary, add a little corn starch mixed with water to thicken.

                                                                                                                                                1. I *skimmed* all the previous posts, and don't remember anyone asking, nor your responding with info about what cut of beef you are using for the stew?

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: souvenir

                                                                                                                                                    I always use chuck....makes the best stew, hands down. Tender, flavorful.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                                      I agree chuck is probably the best way to go. I was wondering if the OP used it, or another more lean, less flavorful cut.

                                                                                                                                                      Another thought that occurs to me is the length of time in the slow cooker was perhaps too long? At what time points do you put in the vegetables and the herbs or spices?

                                                                                                                                                  2. I made this goulash recipe from the Boston Globe Sunday magazine a couple of weeks ago. It was quite good served with egg noodles and roasted carrots. I'll definitely make it again.


                                                                                                                                                    1. Right now, I'm enveloped in the delicious aromas from the Costco's-biggest slow cooker (Crock Pot brand; comes with a "baby croc for dips + a ladle (to fit the indentation in the insert), after browning (2) pounds each of beef neck bones (meaty ones) + beef knees (sliced on the band saw with plenty of cartilage) & deglazing with 2 red + 2 green bell peppers & 1 yellow onion in slivers + 8 cloves of garlic, each hand torn into 6ths (Yes, it was trying to sprout ~ Stater's "lost" the 39 cent head I bought with kale at $1.49/bunch this morning (sigh).
                                                                                                                                                      I'm all out of boxed vegetarian broth from Fresh & Easy (though I cleaned them out of it just last month, or so!), so I used the end of a Better Than Bullion, Vegetable with water from the electric kettle to clear out the end of the jar and poured that over the end of the 2nd bag of angel hair cabbage from last week's pozole, which I dusted all over with Savory - lots of savory! - and followed with 10 cranks of the peppermill in 3 locations across 6 swaths (180 cranks, total from an old Chuck E, Cheese peppermill (They don't use 'em anymore at the salad bars here - weirdness) ~ After letting this "be" uncovered for a bit, I slipped out the beef and placed it into the bottom of the slow cooker, then, lifted the pan and let it all slide on top of the bones. I thought I wouldn't have enough room, but I added a bag of mixed frozen veggies (the ones with peas, carrot cubes, _corn_ & lima beans - I added a bag of frozen lima beans atop all, set it to 8 hours & will check it in the morning -
                                                                                                                                                      I made this only because my 12.5 year-old was sick - _twice_ before today's spelling bee (she got better & took 2nd place :-)
                                                                                                                                                      I left her in her 20.5 year-old sister's capable hands as I rushed to get the bones, lima beans & kale (some of her favorites), then, thinking on _corn_ (which she also likes) and this thread + her age, I added the bag of veggies with corn...
                                                                                                                                                      If my nose is any indicator, we have another winner over here! :-)
                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the tip on _corn_ in _stew_ ~ Who knew? '-)
                                                                                                                                                      It'll be had with flour "gordita" tortillas & whole wheat dinner rolls, for breakfast here (where it is fairly freezing cold right now with more on the way tomorrow & Friday!) - I snagged a gorgeous bunch of cilantro - one of the best bunches I've seen in ages! - and, another favorite of hers. I'll offer it up with minced onion & lemons off the tree out back + any limes I may (or may not) find from the pozole around here.
                                                                                                                                                      That's another way to "punch it up": Offer condiments at the table :-)

                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SusanaTheConqueress

                                                                                                                                                        I'm very confused by your post. First, you deglazed with vegetables? How do you do that? I can't picture it. Also curious if you're using beef bones, why you would be hung up on vegetable broth (store-bought at that)? And what exactly is it that you're making? It doesn't sound like stew, more like a beef stock or broth of puree-candidate. I would think all those things you used would have disintegrated after going overnight in a slow cooker. And one last non-Chow question. I thought you lived in SoCal; did you suddenly have a cold snap. Our daughter was just there on a business trip and commented how nice the weather is compared to other parts of the country. Enquiring minds want to know.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                          When the bones had their final turn and were ready to come out, I heaped the veggies over them for a few minutes, then, picked the bones out from among them and placed them in the bottom of the slow cooker.
                                                                                                                                                          Then, I turned my attention back to the veggies, stirring them around so that the moisture released from them served to deglaze the pan to the point of it being "clean" when I slid them in atop the bones.
                                                                                                                                                          I _really_ like the Fresh & East boxes of Vegetable Broth and, having cleaned them out of all boxes not too very long ago, was surprised to find them all gone - (I got spoiled on just reaching for a box - luckily there was still the Better Than in the refrigerator to fall back on.
                                                                                                                                                          It was a stew and it was glorious!
                                                                                                                                                          We had it for breakfast this freezing cold morning in "Sunny" So. Cal - where tonight's low is 41 (We're a scant 7 miles S. of the precise spot Arrowhead Springs Water is loaded into tanker trucks for bottled water sales all over & often only have to go to there for the girls to play in the snow ~ Being downhill (in the valley), cold "sinks", so it's (relatively for us) _cold_ right now :-)
                                                                                                                                                          The onions, garlic & cabbage "disintegrated" nicely, the other veggies atop all that remained whole and delightful.
                                                                                                                                                          Ummm... what else did you ask? I think that's it _this time_ ~ You seem to follow along throughout my posts across CHOW ~ lol!
                                                                                                                                                          OH! The cartilage covering on the band-sawed knee joints was lovely! The meat fell from the bones and was served up to all in the morning.
                                                                                                                                                          In the evening, while they enjoyed bow ties with Alfredo (extra Romano for the girls at table) + chicken breasts & broccoli, I had the last bowl of it + all the bones and one whole wheat roll ~ Bliss!
                                                                                                                                                          I wonder if the degenerative osteoarthritis I'm newly diagnosed with (Thought I'd broken both my left foot and right thumb when on an extended trip to DC/NYC & Baltimore (for Poe's 200th), is the reason I crave ox tails & joints of any sort done to "jelly"?
                                                                                                                                                          That's an enquiry this mind wants to know '-)
                                                                                                                                                          See you at my next post, as per usual, C. ~ S.

                                                                                                                                                      2. One word:
                                                                                                                                                        Also spelled Nehari.

                                                                                                                                                        Want more punch?

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                                                          One word, maybe. Many ingredients that equal a whole recipe, though. :) I'd not heard of it previously. Is this a good starting point, or do you have a favorite?

                                                                                                                                                          Sounds like more punch for sure.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                            That's a perfectly good starting point.

                                                                                                                                                            I normally just cheat, and use a storebought masala and freshen it up with fresh ginger, garlic, and chiles.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Add a couple of teaspoons of "better than bouillon" beef base to the braising liquid. Boosts the beef taste dramatically. Adding some shank bones to the braising liquid would do it too. Someone already suggested red wine. I already suggested adding a couple of teaspoons of dijon mustard.

                                                                                                                                                            Add any herbs at the end to adjust the taste.

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                                                                                                                                                            1. Does anyone find Guiness/stout a little too bitter?
                                                                                                                                                              The last one I made was, with perhaps a bit too much carrot. So it was sweet and yet bitter.

                                                                                                                                                              1. anchovy filets
                                                                                                                                                                chili flakes

                                                                                                                                                                1. Be sure to sear your beef before putting into the slow cooker, and deglaze the pan you seared it in, and add that, too.

                                                                                                                                                                  ground up dried mushrooms add a layer of flavor that is mysterious, deep and delicious. Give them a try!

                                                                                                                                                                  Oh yes, and don't forget a cup or two of red wine!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. a couple of teaspoons of dijon mustard stirred in would liven it up.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Late contribution.....Adding a can of consomme is the cheat which does it for me.

                                                                                                                                                                      Actually I think the slight crusting (up the inside of the pot) which results from cooking at around 300 in a conventional oven for a couple of hours adds quite a bit of flavour. Doesn't happen in a slowie of course.

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robin Joy

                                                                                                                                                                        Some very good ideas here, but I'll endorse the Mahogany Stew.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DougWeller

                                                                                                                                                                          Doug, I am a huge fan of Mahogany Stew. I just discovered another delicious one:
                                                                                                                                                                          Giada's Marsala Beef Stew with Butternut Squash with Rosemary. Do give this one a look see. It's excellent also.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. This thread is making me super wicked insanely hungry. Mr. Glimmer, as I've whined previously, eschews beef for various reasons that I totally respect, but is willing to eat bison (don't ask). Does anybody think I can get away with a respectable simulacrum of all of the tastiness detailed above with bison meat? My MIL cooked some bison steaks for Xmas eve; they were, IMHO, tough and stringy and not entirely worth the bother, but she's a notoriously disinterested cook, and it shows in her results. I'm thinking that a stew, cooked slowly, might yield better results . . . maybe.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                                                                                                          A web search of braised bison and bison stew shows lots of good results.

                                                                                                                                                                          For example: http://www.domesticdivasblog.com/2010...

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Go crazy with the herbs (multiple bay leaves and lotsa rosemary). And before you dunk the meat, cut it up into inch cubes, fry IN BATCHES after dusting with flour, get the nice and brown, but not charred.

                                                                                                                                                                          Dunk in a bottle of spicy wine.

                                                                                                                                                                          And if you REALLY want flavor? Organ meat or blood. You don't need a lot.

                                                                                                                                                                          stew for at least 4 hours, or better yet, leave to cool, open lid, and warm up the next day. Stew always tastes better the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Strauss

                                                                                                                                                                            try Georgian Spice Blend (Khmeli Suneli) ..... there's lots on the web and Paula Wolfert's Eastern Mediterranean... (spicy beef soup) very unusual and interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Include a chunk or two of well browned oxtail. Lip-coating stickiness should result.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Browned beef bones, demi-glace & fish paste. And add boiled potatoes to stew after it has cooked. My Irish mother would not be happy to read this.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. If you're looking for a deeper flavor, go with good beef or veal stock, a dark beer and carmelized shallots tossed in. It will be RICH boy!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Lea & Perrins worcestershire and coarse black pepper for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                    Lots of great ideas here. I'll just add that it's important to reduce any red wine vermouth port etc to burn off as much booze as possible. You'll never get rid of all of it but reducing really makes a difference. Otherwise the booze will always add a 'raw' note that you'll never get out of the stew. A pinch of smoked paprika and a teaspoon of good chocolate and a teaspoon of peanut butter and a small tin of sliced black olives and few capers and a tablespoon of fish sauce will add flavor notes your guests will love.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. When you flour and brown the meat before putting in the slow cooker, add dehydrated soup greens, Brown it all well with the onions & carrots in the pan. Then add coffee, right out of the pot as part of your liquid, or as all of it. It will turn out with deep rich flavors.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. panchetta instead of bacon;
                                                                                                                                                                                      porchini mushroom instead of any other dried mushroom;
                                                                                                                                                                                      for cloves, don't add too much. I only added 4 cloves to my dish (which was about 4 pounds beef) and I thought the flavor was strong, so i'd go with 2 cloves next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I heat the pan up really hot, and put the beef in without any oil or butter, just dry, and it creates an immediate sticking that I really think is neccessary. Once the meat has been browned I add a bottle of dark brown beer, and simmer on high until all the liquid is gone from the pan, and practically re-sear the meat with some onions and shallots. Then I add water, and some good quality beef base and celery and some rosemary, black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, celery salt, garlic powder, oregeno, basil and parsley and let simmer on medium for an hour, then add my carrots for an hour, and then potatoes and some pearl onions and some peas or broccolli, to give some green color and a more pretty looking stew. Then I simmer it till it's thick enough, sometimes I'll do the water/flour thing to thicken a bit more. But honestly dropping some dumplings on top twenty minutes before serving time is the ultimate stew experience!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. This sounds pretty simple, but for me the one key ingredient that gives stew the right flavor is A TURNIP. Not a big turnip fan otherwise, but stew aint stew without it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. To get nice, rich gravy, use dark beer and add a couple of spoons of tapioca pearls before you start cooking. I nice seasoning is Montreal Steak Seasoning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gizmoprof

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Can we buy it powdered or have to buy dried and then grind? TIA.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Or porcini. Buy dried, then grind in coffee grinder. Add to stews, risotto, mushroom soup, red pasta sauce, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                      But I would appreciate a source, gizmoprof, on dried morels or morel powder, if you have one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Google/Bing the answer. I use "Oregon Mushrooms" (http://www.oregonmushrooms.com/) but there are many other places

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                          maria, I've definitely seen dried morels but, for the life of me, I can't remember where. A retail store, not online. I'd think up your way, you'd be successful. 'Course they're crazy expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                        You can buy them already powdered. Search online for a source, there are many. I buy mine from http://www.oregonmushrooms.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gizmoprof

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Exactly what I needed. Good resource.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Here's the link for morel powder, $35.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                            When we lived in Oregon, this was a vendor I used for fresh ones. And IIRC MMRuth used to order truffles from them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I would add some minced garlic, a Tbsp of tomato paste, 1/2 glass of good red wine, a bouquet garni, and some fresh quartered mushrooms and fresh chopped parsley with beef stock to cook it all in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Red wine
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Soy sauce
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ground porcinis
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tomato paste

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. How about adding some garlic, bay leaves, freshly ground black pepper, diced bell peppers, thyme, ground cumin, and some red pepper sauce? Works for me each time!