I do like a nice beef stew and have very fond memories of my mum's stews, usually served with boiled potatoes. It makes a good, hearty, winter midweek dinner and our weather has been so wet in the last few months, it was past time I made a stew in the crock pot.
I went with the recipe for Beef and Mushroom Casserole from Dianne Page's Slow Cooking Properly Explained. I didn't have the mushrooms, but the kids won't eat them anyway. I prepared this one morning, before work, and left it cooking all day.
I wouldn't normally put potatoes in a stew, instead serving them separately - usually mashed. But, this recipe calls for sliced potatoes. I put them in, thinking that they might help to thicken the gravy. I don't know if that worked, but they were an interesting addition.
I didn't have time to brown the meat, but I did toss the beef (about 600g round steak, cut into cubes) in 1tbsp flour. I put this into the crock pot with 2 onions, chopped quite small; 3 carrots, sliced; 450g potatoes, sliced; 2 sticks of celery, sliced. To this I added 1 litre of stock (made with a cube), some salt and pepper and some dried parsley. I forgot to put in 1 tbsp tomato purée, which would have added to the flavour.
I gave the whole thing a good mix and made sure all the meat and vegetables were covered by the liquid. Then I put the slow cooker on low and left it all day (approx 10 hours).
Hubby got home first. Not realising that there were potatoes in the casserole, he cooked a big pot of brown rice. So, we had extra carbohydrate that day.
When we opened the pot the smell of the casserole was delicious. The meat was beautifully cooked, very tender and tasty. The vegetables retained their form, and even the potatoes remained in their slices. The gravy was a little thin, but the rice helped to soak it up. The flavour was good, but I think the tomatoe purée would have improved it. If anything, the stew lacked a little flavour. Saying that, it was eaten up with almost no leftovers.
The teenager went back for second helpings. Ms Fussy Eater was less enthusiastic, but she is also complaining about having to eat brown rice at the moment. She was due to have her tonsils out less than a week later, and had been having trouble with her throat for quite a while. She ate all her meat and carrots, but left some of the rice, and anything that resembled onion or celery, on her plate.
I think, if I make this again, I may add the mushrooms, as recommended by the recipe. I might also add some extra flavours - I don't think the parsley on its own really did it for me!