Get your cosy cardigans out and dust off your slow cooker – it’s time for comforting autumnal cooking! Nothing fancy, just a simple supper that uses good quality ingredients and VERY little effort because your slow cooker does it all for you.
I’ve long been a fan of beef stew as my mum makes an absolutely cracking one, as did my Granny. The best part was being given a slice of bread spread with butter to mop up the leftover gravy at the end. It was food nirvana then, and it still is now.
A tasty slow cooker beef stew can be the centrepiece for a Sunday dinner with steamed greens, roast potatoes and giant fluffy Yorkshire puddings, like these beauties…
Or it can be a simple supper served with bread. I made a fresh granary loaf in my bread machine that was still warm as we carved off giant slices, buttering them before dunking in the gravy.
As far as I’m concerned, the gravy is the most important thing to get right. I like to put in a bit of this and a bit of that to build up layers of flavour. Sometimes I use beer, but this time I used red wine, along with a stock made from partly onion gravy and partly beef stock gel pots, soft dark brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.
The boys used to love meals like this when they were toddlers, but have gone off anything stew-like as they’ve got older. However they actually ate a mild curry last week, so I got rather over-excited and thought I’d roll out a stew. Predictably they dashed my dreams and picked at it suspiciously, BUT they enjoyed the Yorkies and fresh bread with the gravy. I’ll not give up as I really love food like this now the season has changed. Do your kids eat stew?
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
3 tbsp plain flour
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried sage
500g diced beef
6 slices streaky bacon, snipped into small pieces
2 tbsp vegetable oil
600ml beef stock
300ml red wine
1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into cubes
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
- Put the flour into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and the dried sage then toss with the chunks of beef and bacon pieces until fully coated.
- Put the slow cooker onto a short browning setting, then heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and brown the coated meat.
- Pour in the liquid, sugar and balsamic vinegar, giving it all a good stir, and then add in the vegetables. Put the lid on and put on a 6-8 hour setting and leave it to cook. If you’re around give it the odd stir just to make sure nothing’s sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Serve with buttered bread, mash or Yorkshire puddings and some freshly steamed greens.
Obviously Matthew can’t eat this being a vegetarian, so I made a veggie sausage stew using very similar ingredients for the sauce. So the liquid’s made up of 300ml onion gravy and 300ml red wine. After browning off six quorn sausages with some chopped frozen onions I stirred in the liquid with a dash of balsamic vinegar and a spoonful of soft dark brown sugar and let the whole thing simmer gently for an hour. Matthew was delighted with it. I’m afraid I don’t have a picture of it though sorry!
More Slow Cooker Recipes
Here’s a warming collection of Slow Cooker recipes from my food blogging friends to share with you for further inspiration:
Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie – Baking Queen 74
Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Casserole – Farmers Girl Kitchen
Slow Cooker Irn Bru Pulled Pork – Foodie Quine
Easy Cheesy Pulled Chicken Wraps – Fab Food 4 All
Slow Cooker Vegetable Stew – Tin & Thyme
Slow Cooker Duck & Plantain Curry – Recipes From A Pantry
Slow Cooker Pork With Star Anise & Orange – Gingey Bites
Slow Cooker Jacket Potatoes – Kavey Eats