16 February 2011

slow cooker tuscan beef stew

I'm not much of a slow cooker kind of guy.

A gift from my mom, my slow cooker sits in the back of a cabinet and gets used only once a year at best. In fact, there's only ever been one recipe that I've made in it—a delicious Asian-inspired pot roast. As tasty as that is, I still rarely make it.

Going through my freezer I found a bag of stew meat that was approaching the “use it or lose it” deadline. Inspired by watching travel videos for our upcoming vacation in Italy, I decided to quickly throw together a Tuscan Beef Stew.

I prepped everything on my lunch break from work, so there was less than a half hour involved in the get-ready. The end result was a quick, easy weeknight meal that warmed a typical rainy Vancouver winter day. Served with a crusty garlic bread and a small side salad of pickled artichoke hearts, this stew would be good on a bed of polenta or orzo.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow onion, cut into thin slices
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3-4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow turnip, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pounds stew beef, such as boneless chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup dry, full bodied red wine
1 1/2 tbsp dried thyme (would be better with fresh but didn't have any!)
1 1/2 tbsp dried basil
2 bay leaves
1 can Italian stewed tomatoes
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat heavy pan on stove and add olive oil until hot but not smoking. Sauté beef until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove beef from pan and add garlic, onion, carrot, and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add beef back to pan. Add turnips. Add wine and herbs, stir well, and bring to boil. Transfer to slow cooker. Add tomatoes and some of juice from the can, salt, and pepper, then lower heat to moderately low, cover, and simmer for 4 - 6 hours.

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