Monday, September 22, 2008

Beef Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I thought for my first post that I would share a fall/winter classic. This is a pretty basic and very tasty beef stew recipe. It comes from Betty Crocker's Slow Cooker Cookbook. I don't have a picture to offer, unfortunately.

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
12 medium new potatoes (1 1/2 pounds), cut in half
1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 bag (8 ounces) baby-cut carrots (about 30)
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Soak tomatoes in water as directed on package; drain and coarsly chop.
2. Mix tomatoes and remaining ingredients except 1/4 cup water and the flour in 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker.
3. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 9 hours (of high heat setting 3 to 5 hours) or until beef and vegetables are tender.
4. Mix 1/4 cup water and the flour; gradually stir into beef mixture.
5. Cover and cook on high heat setting 10 to 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove bay leaf.

I've made the stew using both the high and low heat settings and really recommend using the low heat setting. The meat and vegetables are all more tender and the flavors all blend together better. The directions do not tell you to brown the meat before you add it to the crock pot, but it will have better flavor if you do. I have also used meat tenderizer (unflavored) and added dried celery flakes. The celery flakes rehydrate nicely and add an nice complimentary flavor. Any kind of potatoes will work, but I found that using a few different varieties together gives the stew additional character.

It took me around 30 minutes to get the stew started, and the time required for soaking the tomatoes is adequate for chopping, measuring or browning the rest of the ingredients.

The recipe says that it serves 6, but I find that it really serves 4 adults.

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