Ahh winter. Now it’s finally time to put away the barbeque grill and break out two of our favorite winter time appliances: the slow cooker and the Instant Pot. One of the most popular dishes to eat during the winter (and ultimately cook in a slower cooker) has to be the humble beef stew. A thick beef stew is one of our favorite comfort foods (along with macaroni and cheese and meatloaf, but we'll save those recipes for another time).
Here's our recipe for a hearty and delicious beef stew. Feel free to serve with a crusty French bread or sourdough.
How To Make The Perfect Beef Stew (Instant Pot Addition)
Use Good Cuts Of Meat
The meat you use in a stew really matters if you want a tender bite. Look for meat with some marbling and little fat; if you do have stew meat with fat, trim as much as you can. If you can afford it, get your meat from the butcher instead of the prepackaged meat section at the grocery store. It will be leaner and come from a better cut of meat. The size of the chunks is up to you, but we prefer no more than about a 2" x 2" size. Making sure all of your stew meat is the same size will result in even cooking.
Brown It First
Browning your meat before you add it to your slow cooker is a step which is crucial to any stew. Add a bit of extra virgin olive oil along with about two cloves of minced garlic to a screaming hot pan, preferably cast iron. Add your stew meat in batches; overcrowding the pan will result in steaming the meat instead of searing it. Season with salt and pepper. As tempting as it might be, don't disturb the meat as it browns (about 7 minutes per side). When you take the time to brown your beef, you will be adding those wonderful caramelised flavours which you wouldn’t get in your stew otherwise. It adds a whole extra layer of flavour and it is more than worth the time it takes for you to do it.
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Slow Cook It
Obviously, the idea behind a stew recipe is to leave everything in a pot and let it cook for hours until the meat is tender and the flavors have married. This is why we recommend cooking your beef stew in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Imagine putting together a delicious beef stew and literally setting it and forgetting it, only to come home at the end of a long day to a delicious and hearty meal? MmHm, we can.
Add Tomato For An Acidic Kick
When you are putting together a beef stew, you will have a lot of different elements making up the recipe. For a successful stew which is balanced and yummy, you'll need to balance out the heavier flavors with an acidic kick, and tomato is the ideal ingredient. You can use a simple tomato purée to add a little element of acid and to cut through the rest of the dish. It will be that perfect je ne sais quoi!
Choose A Beer
Alcohol is something which always goes well in winter dishes and stews are no exception. A bit of your favorite beer will help make the flavor of your stock come alive. For a flavorful and rich stew, stout or ale is an amazing base for the dish because it has deep rich flavors for you to enjoy. If beer isn't your think, you can accomplish the same with a deep merlot.
Check out our recipe for the perfect beef stew, below. It incorporates all of these flavors and textures, ultimately producing a tasty and delicious stew with flavorful meat that just melts in your mouth. Buon Appetito!