There are certain class recipes that i feel every cook should have in their repetoire. A good chili recipe, for one...check. A nice meatloaf wouldn't hurt...check. A go-to roast chicken recipe and an amazing lasagna creation...check, check.
One thing I had been lacking was a solid beef stew recipe. For months, no years, I felt like something was missing, that I didn't have a full recipe box without my standby beef stew recipe.
Well, no longer.
This is an outside-the-box beef stew that was inspired by several good restaurant stews (including the most recent mushroom stew at Black Creek Bistro) and various other recipes. I think the trick for me was to shatter the notion that beef stew had to have potatoes, carrots and the traditional fare.
If you are a vegetarian, this is just as delicious with all mushrooms replacing the beef.
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash, Cremini and Beef Stew
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds ribeye beef, cut into small pieces
2-3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cup dry red wine (or beef broth)
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (or one teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or one teaspoon dried)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can of tomato paste
3 cups of beef broth
1 medium butternut squash, cubed
1-2 tablespoons cornstarch#
In a saute pan, heat the oil over high heat. Mix the beef, flour, salt and pepper, mixing well to fully coat the beef. Sear the beef over high heat for about 5-6 minutes, stirring once or twice to ensure adequate browning over all the beef. Deglaze the pan by pouring red wine or 1 cup beef broth and scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen all the good browned bits. Pour the contents of the pan into your slow cooker.
Add mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, onion, garlic, tomato paste and additional beef broth to the slow cooker. Add the butternut squash*. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
#The stew can be made even more rich and thick by taking a couple ladle fulls of the broth out of the slow cooker, mixing in a tablespoon or two of cornstarch, and bring the mixture to a boil on the stove top and simmering for a minute or two. Then add the broth mixture back the slow cooker and mix.
*I had the best results by adding the squash about halfway through the cooking, so it wasn't too mushy. But you can add at the beginning too, if you wish.
(Side note: Before I had chance to get pictures of this stew, it was all eaten. Just close your eyes and imagine a really tasty stew. I plan to make it again before spring, so if you want to see what it looks like before trying to make it, stay tuned...)