The nights are officially becoming shorter. Spring is getting closer and daffodils will be here. As far as I am concerned though it’s still dark, cold and wet right now. I just want to hibernate away, particularly now Christmas is over. JP has other ideas however, much preferring to be out in the cold than cooped up indoors. He wants to be charging around on his bike, or spinning on a roundabout in a cold playground. When we’re back inside the house, smelling this slow cooker beef stew puttering away it puts a quiet smile on my face.
It gets better. This stew takes 20 minutes to prepare. By ‘prepare’ I mean chop the meat and vegetables, make up some stock and then put everything in a slow cooker. It doesn’t really get simpler than this stew recipe. It putters away for 3 ½ hours on a high heat, I add in the sweet potato and then another hour later it’s ready to eat. If I cook it while we are out for the day I put it on for 7½ hours on a low heat in the morning, before adding the sweet potato and then cooking it for another 1½ hours when we are back home. It’s a warming, tasty stew, perfect on cold evenings.
JP likes this stew, or rather he likes the chunks of beef that are only just still holding themselves together. He is still highly suspicious of gravy and would prefer his carrots raw, but the meat he loves.
Because I cook this stew in a slow cooker the onions don’t need frying and the meat doesn’t need searing. I just put the ingredients in and let the cooker do the work. When I cook a stew in the oven most of the liquid evaporates away and so I add sufficient to cover the meat and vegetables. In a slow cooker, the liquid tends to condense back into the stew, so I need much less.
I serve this stew with mashed potato and green vegetables.
Slow cooker beef stew with sweet potato and thyme
900g stewing beef, cubed into 3cm/1¼” chunks
300g/14 rashers of streaky unsmoked bacon, roughly chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped into 4cm/1½” chunks
3 bay leaves
350 ml beef stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
⅛ tsp salt
⅛ tsp freshly ground pepper
4 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large chunks
Preparation time – 20 minutes
Cooking time – 4½ hrs
1. Put the beef, bacon, carrots and mushrooms in the slow cooker.
2. Using string, tie the thyme and the bay leaves together in a little bundle and add to the slow cooker along with all remaining ingredients except the sweet potato. Stir well and turn the cooker on high for 3 ½ hours.
3. Add the sweet potato, stir well and cook for another hour. Serve.
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