How to Make Beef Stew in a Slow Cooker

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Making beef stew in a slow cooker is a great, care-free way to make a hearty meal. Make beef stew in a slow cooker with help from a chef instructor and executive pastry chef in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Preparing Stews: Tips & Tricks
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Video Transcript

Good morning, I'm Chef Tony Hedger from L'Ecole Culinaire in St. Louis, Missouri. Today, we're going to be talking about how to make a beef stew in a slow cooker. A lot of slow cookers are just like grills, where people don't know exactly where their hot spots are, or how their slow cooker actually works. This was a brand new one for me, it is a Hamilton Beach that I just purchased about a week or so, ago. You'll see that it has a keep warm, low and high temperature range on there. You should always know in your manufacturer's, owner's book, how or what the temperature ranges are for your slow cooker. That helps out right from the get-go. Today, we're going to be talking about how to make a beef stew in a slow cooker. A lot of us just throw everything together, we're on the go, we throw everything into the slow cooker, boom, we're out the door. Not a good thing to do, especially when you're putting raw meat into a broth. O.k., so, not all meats are created equal, I have two portions her,e I have a chuck roast, which a lot of us are familiar with pot roast. The chuck comes from the front shoulder of the cow. And of course, we don't know what this is. This is called stew meat, but this could come from anywhere on the animal, if it is indeed, cow. O.k., so, we're going to actually use this today, and if you use this stew meat, we know that it's going to be definitely a tough piece of meat. So, I'm kind of looking for a piece of meat that's got a lot of fat to it. You'll see a lot of connective tissue that's there, subcutaneous fat that, no matter how much you chew it, it's going to get a little bit bigger. So, today, we're going to actually trim that up a little bit. You've got take a lot of that fat off. Nobody wants to actually eat the fat in their beef stew, I know, I don't. And besides the fact that your beef stew will actually get a film that's on the top of it. That film, if you don't ladle it off, will actually give a sour taste or an unpure taste to your beef stew. So, we're going to come in here, we're going to cut all this meat up here, real quick. The difference in beef stews and braises, is that when we do braising, braising has a large cut of meat. Beef stew is on the other hand, even though it's the same principle, is bite size pieces of meat. So, we want to make sure that our children, our wives, our husbands don't choke on pieces of meat. That looks pretty good. Alright, so, the next thing I'm going to do, I'm going to grab a couple more pieces there. I'm going to take a bowl, I'm going to put that meat into the bowl and season it. Nothing tastes good unless it's seasoned, believe me. So, we're going to kind of control the salt and pepper here a little bit, I like a little bit of extra pepper. And we're going to add a little bit of flour to that. Now, what is that flour in there for? That flour's in there for specifically, that when you're doing your slow cooking, not only does it facilitate in the browning process. But it also, will actually aid in the thickening process, once you get to that point, o.k. Now, that I've handled meat with those gloves, I'm going to go ahead and take those off. O.k., and we're going to heat up some oil,get that heated up rather high. We want to make sure that we caramelize the outside of the beef, to get it nice brown. What that's going to do for you, is it's going to lock in the juices. O.k., I'm going to re-glove. It's going to lock in the juices, it's going to allow your meat not only to be very flavorful and juicy. But it's also going to keep it form drying out, none of us like extra dry beef stew. We're going to wait for that thing, you're going to see a little wave on top of that oil. Kind of stand back a little bit, if you've got it on high, and we're going to go ahead and put her in. We should hear a sizzle right off the bat, I've got a low sizzle. O.k., so, basically what we're going to do, we're going to put that out of the way. And I shouldn't be touching that meat any longer. Make sure we come in here and we give it a good stir. In the meantime, while this meat is browning, we're going to go ahead and what I've already done, was preheated this slow cooker. This slow cooker is on high. So, what I'm going to go ahead and do, is I'm going to go ahead and reach out to my stock. See, I got a little towel, in case that handle's a little bit hot. We're going to put it right into the slow cooker. Now, that stock is going to be right about 180 to 200 degrees, just below boiling point, o.k. To that, I'm going to add a little bit of water to make sure, that because I'm using beef stock, it doesn't reduce down to get all gummy-yummy, I don't like gummy stew. O.k., so, here we have our stew going, give it a little toss. If you feel comfortable, you can do that little number, not in my kitchen, my fiance yells at me for doing that. So, we're going to go ahead and we're going to dump the raw vegetables, just whatever you like. I know a lot of people who'll put turnips in the stew, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, those types of things. I like just the regular beef stew. I have potatoes, today I used the regular red potatoes, they seem to hold up a little bit better. Just check your starch content of your potatoes. The starch content is rather high in some potatoes, and the other potatoes are a little bit waxy, like Yukon Golds. O.k., so, now, our vegetables are in. O.k., so, we're going to let that temperature come up, I still have that thing on high. We're going go ahead and brown these off real quick. Now, the thing about this, is you want to make sure that what meat you're using. A lot of times, this meat here comes from the round, which is the rear end of the animal. It's going to be a lot tougher than what you have here. The chuck is, while some portions of the chuck are a little bit on the tougher side, a lot of it isn't,a lot of it is very tender. So, you may not want to cook this cut of meat, as much as you would, this cut of meat. O.k., so, if you look in there, we have a nice brown going. And I'm going to take it just a little bit longer. The one thing that you have to remember is, that your meat is not fully cooked. Get a nice brown going, o.k. Now, this oil will make a difference if it's in there. So, the only thing that I'm going to do is, I'm going to take my dirty bowl that I had with my, getting my meat all seasoned. And I'm going to try to pour off a little bit of that oil, very good. Now, coming back to the slow cooker, we're going to go ahead and spoon it in. Don't do it from the high dive, because you don't want to splash hot liquid all over yourself. If you're like me, you'll get burns all over hands, give it a good stir. Now, at this point, there's a good option for you to go ahead and start seasoning this. So, you have seasoning on your, on the meat. So, we have salt and pepper already in there. One thing I also like to do, is take a little bit of thyme sprig, and you can use whatever types of herbs you like. I'm going to go ahead and throw that in there and also, a bay leaf, o.k. Now, you're getting ready to go to work, you still got that thing on high, don't forget, you've got that thing on high. O.k., so, we want to make sure that we take it down to low. And then, you can let this go for a couple hours without ever having to look at it. The only thing that you may want to look, is to make sure that it's still liquid. You want to make sure that your vegetables and your meats are covered. If you do that, you'll have a successful, very successful slow cooking adventure. I hope you enjoyed this little tip. My name is Tony Hedger, and this is how to cook beef stew in a slow cooker, thank you.

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