I have a touch of melancholy lately. The kind that makes me want to press my forehead against a rainy or snowy window, sip cocoa, and lose myself in novels and movies in my pajamas for a few days. The season is just on the cusp of changing, and while I won’t have a few days to myself any time soon, I can fill my house with the comfort of stew.
This is THE beef stew. It’s savory, hearty, filling, rich-but-not-too-heavy, and the flavor has just a hint of complexity. It’s the crowning jewel of my stew creations to date. The only thing missing is what Michael calls “a prospector bowl” (a pewter bowl to eat it out of). Some day, friends. Some day.
The magic here is the combination of balsamic vinegar and a hint of dijon mustard. That mixture, paired with the classic flavors of beef, carrots, onions, and rosemary and pulled together with some great-quality beef broth makes this sauce just incredible. Thanks to the thickening trick, it’s hearty and thick enough to eat on its own, but it also makes a great topping to rice or mashed potatoes if you need to stretch it further.
If you’re serving it on its own, you can certainly add 1-2 cups of diced potatoes to the stew as it cooks. Michael just much prefers to serve them with a batch of vegan mashed potatoes.
We used homemade beef bone broth. The better quality broth you use, the better, but for those times when you’re in a pinch, our favorite broth “booster” is Better Than Bouillon Organic Beef Base. (It’s gluten and dairy free, no MSG). If you’re using it, you can use 2-3 tsp per 1 cup water or broth. It’s NOT whole30/Paleo approved, so be aware of that if you’re eating that way. The rest of the recipe is squeaky clean and ready to eat!
p.s. If you’re on the hunt for a great slow cooker, we LOVE this one. It’s programmable and has lid clips so you don’t have any spills if you’re bringing food to a friend, potluck, or party.
- 2-3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 6-8 large pieces
- 1 lb carrots, cut into 1" pieces
- 8-10oz button mushrooms, halved
- 1 large sweet onion, diced (or 1 lb. pearl onions, peeled)
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 cups beef broth (I prefer bone broth, or you can use water + 4-6 tsp Beef Base)
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- salt and pepper, to taste
- olive or avocado oil
- To thicken: 2 Tbsp arrowroot powder
- Brown the beef by heating a drizzle of oil in a large sauté pan. Working in batches, add a few pieces of beef to the pan and brown on all sides. When browned, transfer to the crock of a slow cooker. Repeat with remaining beef. Place carrots and mushrooms in with the beef.
- Add onion to the pan you browned the beef in. Stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add balsamic, Dijon, and broth to the pan and stir until well combined. Pour the whole mixture into the slow cooker over the beef, carrots, and mushrooms. Place rosemary on top.
- Cook stew in slow cooker on HIGH for 3-4 hours, or LOW on 7-8 hours. Shred beef into the broth mixture. In a small bowl, whisk together arrowroot and 2 Tbsp water. Pour into the slow cooker and stir to combine. It should almost immediately thicken. Serve when you're ready!
- You can make it in a Dutch oven using the same method--cook everything in the Dutch oven, not a sauté pan. Bake it at 300 degrees for about 3 hours, or simmer it on the stove top for 2-3 hours.
- Serve stew.