HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Jazzing up Beef Stew

So, I'm making beef stew in the slow cooker tomorrow night, the usual beef, parsnips, celery, carrots and small potatoes, usual spices. Although it always comes out good, I am a little bored with it. Anyone have any ideas to make it more interesting? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: danionavenue

      You could also add in biscuits or dumplings.

    2. In the same train of thought, Guinness?
      Or do you/household like spicy? Add diff spices, andouille sausage, cayenne, bell and other peppers (you control the heat)?

      4 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        Or a can or two of Rotel. I just put some in my sauerbraten last night. Also a little lemon peel.

        1. re: pinehurst

          ^^Second this. The last few times I've made beef stew, I've added a bottle of Guinness.

          In this vein, this weekend I made pot roast simmered in Guinness and homemade beef stock.

          Wow, it makes it something special, I think.

          1. re: BabsW

            Babs, how do you do your beef stock, if you're reading this? I feel mine is kind of meh.

          2. re: pinehurst

            I was going to suggest beer, too. In a slow cooker, though, I'd sear the meat and then deglaze the pot w/ beer and let it simmer some. The beer can add a bitter taste if it's added directly to the slow cooker because it doesn't get to cook away at all.

          3. Plenty of onions for a start - my cousin who went to the Cordon Bleu always said that if a receipe called for two onions make it at least three.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ZoeZ

              ...and/or shallots, I always mix the two and didn't even think of it.

              1. re: ZoeZ

                I'm with you on plenty of onions, they make the sauce so wonderfully rich, and a nice dark half bottle of red zin. mmmm, I must make this too!

              2. Braise onions and beef in bacon fat. Add some wine and tomato paste and a glug of Worchestershire. You will of course be using garlic, right?

                3 Replies
                1. re: Berheenia

                  with you all the way. guaranteed to be delicious with these tips!

                  1. re: Berheenia

                    A winner from Berheenia. Red wine OR Guinness would work here.

                    1. re: Berheenia

                      Oh, I would do mushrooms and skip the potatoes. Serve mashed potatoes with it instead.

                    2. Change the beef to short ribs or oxtails......add green peas, pearl onions and mushrooms tot he ingredients.....some wine or beer if you like.

                      1. What seasonings do you use? I like using warm pumpkin pie-like spices in fall stews: cinnamon, allspice, cloves along with a grating of lemon rind to brighten up the sauce.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JungMann

                          Sounds similar to a recipe that my wife cooked last night for stifado, a Greek beef stew that has pickling spice added. Recipe will be posted if anyone wants it. Delicious

                        2. There's a quirky recipe on Epicurious called Mahogany Beef Stew which includes hoisin and red wine...I've made it a few times and it's pretty good and different ... very good with horseradish mashed potatoes...here's the link FWIW:

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Val

                            The Mahogany Beef Stew is a favorite at my house. Another good one is Giada's Beef Stew with Butternut Squash.

                            I forget which chef said that (I think it's Nigella), that potatoes in Beef Stew are bland, so now I make garlic mashed red bliss ones and serve beef stew over the top. With the Mahogany one, the sauce is thickened, but I think you could thicken Giada's as well.

                          2. Onions & leeks.

                            Any root veg that look particularly good and seasonal where you are - turnips, swede, celeriac, jerusalem artichoke for instance

                            Wine & Worcestershire sauce in the liquid. Or keep the wine, leave out the Worcestershire and add some orange juice and peel and call in a provencal daube. Leave out the wine & Worcestershire but add beer and call it Flemish rundsstoverij.

                            1. Just a few idea:
                              bay leaves
                              tomato paste
                              red wine

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: monavano

                                Monavano, will anchovy-phobe guests be able to go AHA! ANCHOVIES! and freak out, or will they melt into a little mystery oompf?

                              2. I use thyme to jazz up beef stew.

                                Also, sautee the mushrooms separately in butter or bacon fat (mmmmm) to give them some color and flavor, then put in the stew just before serving.

                                1. If you want something very different, try this Moroccan braised beef: easy and delicious.


                                  1. Thanks for all the ideas!!! I always use onions, forgot to put that in the post. I like the idea of red wine and bacon fat, but Guinness sounds good too. I usually don't use garlic in stew b/c DS9 doesn't like it, but I'll try sliding in a few cloves. Two weeks ago I made an oxtail stew in the slow cooker and that came out great. There are plenty of ideas here for many future beef stews, thank you!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Kat

                                      Shan brand nehari/nihari spice mix. Anytime I eat "beef stew" now, I wish it was Nehari.

                                      1. re: gordeaux

                                        After it's thickened, stir in a tablespoon or so of Dijon. Really perks up the flavour!


                                        1. re: spazita

                                          I love adding a dollop of dijon to my stew too spazita. Or often I put in a dollop of prepared horseradish . . . adds tons of flavor - sooo good!

                                      1. Dried porcini mushrooms.

                                          1. OK, so this morning I added red wine and garlic to my usual stew since I had those in the house. Then, I started to thinK: the alcohol cannot evaporate with the lid on the crockpot all day, so will this be a boozy tasting stew? Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but just wondering.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Kat

                                              You can separate the stew from the braising liquid when it's done. Simmer until reduced to your liking.
                                              It really shouldn't be boozy after all that time anyhoo...

                                              1. re: monavano

                                                Hey, so it came out very tasty and not at all boozy. Yum!

                                              2. re: Kat

                                                Probably but if you like wine, it'll be okay. I like to deglaze/reduce alcohol on the stove first before putting it in the slow cooker.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  Me too. I like to brown the meat and deglaze with wine, then let the braise begin.

                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                    We answered at the same time--that's a good idea to remove the meat at the end and let it simmer, too. I've also folded a towel in half and put below the lid. It absorbs the liquids.

                                              3. big chunks of mushrooms, onions, parsnips, LOTS of ground black pepper...try white wine instead of red, it is "brighter.".

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: tim irvine

                                                  Yup -- white wine, anchovies, and some orange peel and oil-cured black olives.

                                                2. How timely! We're having unusual rain for Los Angeles and I'm making beef stew tonight for a warm-us-up dinner.

                                                  I'm building my base from Anne Burrelle's brown-your-puréed-mirepoix technique. It makes a sauce that is beyond delicious. Here's her recipe for braised shortribs: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/an... Her bolognese uses the same approach. I can only hope my stew will be as good.

                                                  1. One Troeginator. Or any other doppel bock.