Beef Stew with Red Wine

I brown all my ingredients when cooking savory dishes, this is where the flavor is. A crock pot is what I generally use to cook my beef stew unless cooking for an army then I am forced to use the oven to carry the roasting pan needed to accommodate hungry mouths. Cooking in a crock pot does not mean dump all ingredients into the well, place the lid to seal, and crank the pot to high. I take the effort to brown all ingredients, not just the meat. You will be well rewarded.

3 lbs. beef stew meat, chuck
1 large red onion
3 carrots, washed and unpeeled
1 large red bell pepper
1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Tbl. tomato paste
1/2 bottle red wine, not too dry & not too cheap
1 15 oz can low sodium beef broth
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
1 Tbl. Kosher salt
1 Tbl. fresh cracked black pepper
2 Tbl. Italian herb blend
2 Tbl. flour
Olive oil

Cut red onion, carrots and red bell pepper into 1/2 inch dice. Heat skillet first, then add olive oil to coat the pan and brown at high heat, stirring only occasionally and not constantly about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and brown for one more minute. Pour browned vegetables into the crock pot and turn heat to high.

Cut beef stew meat into bite sized pieces if not already purchased this way. Coat with Kosher salt, black pepper and flour.  Heat same large skillet to high and add more olive oil enough to coat the pan and brown the beef cubes in 3 batches. Do not over fill skillet with meat or too much of the meat juices will collect in the pan and your meat will boil and not brown. Add each batch of browned meat to the crock pot.

Add to crock pot Italian herbs, crushed garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, red wine and stir. Pour beef broth into well browned skillet to deglaze. With a spatula scrape up browned bits stuck to the pan. Pour broth mixture into crock. You are now done with the messy process of cooking.

The connective tissue in beef requires three hours of medium high heat in order to give you those tender bites. Cooking the meat at a higher temperature will not speed up the tenderizing process. It always takes three hours, so plan ahead your serving time.

Serve in a bowl with crusty toasted french bread, you will enjoy soaking up the juices and of course pour yourself a glass of that delicious red wine remaining in your bottle.

ADD 1/2 cup frozen peas added at the end of the 3 hour cooking process
ADD 1 cup quartered browned Cremini mushrooms. Cremini are baby Portobello mushrooms
SUBSTITUTE parsnips for carrots
ADD 2 browned leek roots (white portion)

SAVE any leftover sauce and pour over cooked pasta the next day.