I always get a little annoyed when people complain about how cold it is in the middle of January. It’s winter. You live in the Northeast. It’s supposed to be cold. Get over it. But, I’m giving all those people a reprieve this week because it is insanely cold in New York. Like, my skin on my face feels like its going to peel off kind of cold. I grew up loving winter and I always defended the season against all the naysayers who proclaimed summer as the best time of year. I suppose its a sign of age that now I’m quietly begging for the warmer months of June and July to get here already.
And as an afterthought, what do you people up north do during this time of year? I hear those are the happiest countries on Earth- the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Canada- but man, how do you manage with that weather?? All of that snow and cold and slush and wind….yes, I sound like a spoiled New Yorker.
Alright alright, I’m coming back to my point. And that’s beef stew. Piping hot, thick, hearty, melt your bones stew. And even better, all you need to do is push a button and let the slow cooker do all the work. Which incidentally, is my saving grace, since I managed to get struck down by the flu this weekend. Perfect timing. Freezing cold temperatures outside, while I’m boiling in my own skin and desperate to eat something to rinse out the flavor of cough syrup and herbal tea that I’ve been throwing back all day long, made the allure of a hearty stew needing little more than a bit of prep and mental coordination to throw things in the bowl of my slow cooker and pressing the button when finished, very enticing indeed.
After scouring my fridge, I came up with this stew using a mish mash of what was available (another reason I love stew) while also keeping the nutritional content high up there in the Vitamin C area (yay, sweet potatoes and parsnips), protein (beef), and fiber (leafy greens) to keep my system energized and capable to fight off this wretched sickness. It’s taken me a couple of days but I’m glad to say that I’m back on my feet, and I can enjoy my leftover beef stew even more now that I have fully recovered. Plus stew always tastes better after a couple of days, especially when you’re not sniffling into a tissue or moaning in agony over your horrible lot in life when sweating out your fever in bed. As I was. Sigh.
Some of the ingredients. Note the shakiness of my camera hand. Blame it on the flu:
- 2lbs of boneless chuck beef: trimmed of fat and cut in cubes (can also use bottom round roast)
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 parsnips, peeled and sliced diagonally
- 2 cups of mixed dark leafy greens, your choice (I used mustard, turnip, spinach, and collard)
- ½ cup white pearl onions, thawed if frozen *not pictured
- 1 10oz package of white mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
- 1 bottle of dry red wine, (I used a 2009 Bordeaux from France)
- 1 cup of reduced-sodium beef stock
- 2 tbsps of tomato paste
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 tbsp of chopped fresh thyme
- ½ tbsp of Herbes de Provence *not pictured
- 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil *not pictured
- Salt and Pepper *not pictured
You can mix and match these ingredients to suit your taste, although I’d suggest keeping the parsnips and the greens. Butternut squash or carrots would make great substitutes, or if you prefer yukon potatoes to sweet, then be my guest and add those instead. Just keep in mind that you’re also adjusting the nutritional profile as well.
- Dutch oven or heavy pot
- Slow Cooker (at least 4 quart capacity)
1. Prep all of your vegetables, by peeling and dicing everything ahead of time. You can leave the pearl onions whole. Buying them frozen will save you time on peeling the skin off fresh ones (a major pain if you’ve ever worked with these before).
2. Heat oil in a medium-sized dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat.
3. Sprinkle salt pepper over each side of the meat. Place in pot once oil is hot and reduce heat to medium-low. You don’t want to burn the meat, so just make sure the heat isn’t too high. Also, don’t overcrowd the pot. You can do this part in two batches if necessary.
4. Turn the meat around to cook on all sides and then remove and set aside. About 4-6 minutes.
5. Turn slow-cooker on and set on Low.
6. Add the tomato paste to the pot and cook for about 30 seconds.
7. Pour the stock and wine into the pot, carefully scraping all the brown bits on the bottom to mix with the liquid.
8. Allow the mixture to boil and reduce slightly. Turn off the heat and remove the pot.
9. Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker beginning with the meat and including the garlic, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, parsnips, leafy greens, fresh thyme, and seasonings. Then pour the wine and stock mixture over the top. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of cracked black pepper over the top and mix well.
10. Place the lid over the slow-cooker and leave it on the Low setting for 6-8 hours.
11. Check on your stew and taste for seasonings. Adjust if necessary. Serve and garnish with fresh thyme.
There you have it! Slow-Cooker Beef Stew that even a sick person with the flu can manage!
What makes you feel better when you’re sick? Do you have any go-to recipes (or remedies?) that always make you feel better? Are there any traditions passed down in your family on how to treat a cold or the flu? Drop me a line below. I’m curious!
As always, keep paying it forward and stay healthy. 🙂