I adapted this recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen version. This stew is a winter classic, and the kitchen wizards over at ATK have perfected it by coming up with a way to allow the meat to slow cook while preventing the veggies from becoming a mushy mess (spoiler: you’ll put them in a tin-foil packet on top of the stew). I like to prep this in the evening and leave it cooking overnight, floating out of bed in the morning and following the aroma of slow-cooked beef into the kitchen . . . Michael Scott gets it.
Slow Cooker Hearty Beef Stew
- 2 pounds grass-fed beef stew meat (chuck) or bison, cut into 2” pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons fat of choice (olive oil or avocado oil work well)
- 1 large yellow onion, minced
- 1 package sliced mushrooms (white or baby bella)
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
- 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons Minute tapioca
- Pat meat dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until shimmering. Cook half of the beef until it is well browned on each side, about 4 minutes. Put the meat in the slow cooker and follow the same process with the second half of the meat (you may need to add another tablespoon of oil to the pan if it looks a little dry). Remove the meat to the slow cooker.
- Return the skillet to medium heat and add another tablespoon of oil. Add the onions, mushrooms, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the onions are translucent and golden, about 6 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
- Add the broth and coconut aminos and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and transfer it to the slow cooker. Add bay leaves and tapioca.
- In a large bowl, toss the carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme. On the counter, lay out a large piece of aluminum foil. Place the tossed vegetables on one side of the foil. Fold the foil over the vegetables and crimp the edges really well to form a little foil packet that will fit in the top of your slow cooker. Place the packet in the slow cooker on top of the beef mixture.
- Cover the slow cooker, and cook on high for 6-7 hours or low for 10-11 hours.
- When the stew is finished cooking, remove the foil packet from the top of the stew. Carefully open the foil packet (watch out for the steam that will escape as you open it!). Return the vegetables and any juices to the slow cooker and gently mix them into the stew. Add remaining ½ teaspoon fresh thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.