Virginia Willis' Slow Cooker Beef Stew for
Recipe courtesy of Virginia Willis

Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 12 hr
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Inactive: 6 hr 30 min
  • Cook: 5 hr
  • Yield: 6 servings



  1. To marinate the beef, place the cubes in a large glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add the wine, carrot, celery and onion. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Line both a baking sheet and a large plate with paper towels. With a slotted spoon, remove the beef from the marinade and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade, reserving separately both the vegetables and the liquid. 
  3. To cook the beef, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to the prepared plate to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the skillet. Decrease the heat to medium, add 2 tablespoons of the canola oil and heat until shimmering. 
  4. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add the beef to the skillet in two or three batches (don't crowd the pan) and sear until it is nicely browned on all sides, about 5 minutes; transfer to the prepared baking sheet when done. Set aside. 
  5. Add the reserved vegetables from the beef marinade to the skillet and cook until they start to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and toss again to lightly coat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the flour turns brown, 2 to 3 minutes. 
  6. Transfer the vegetables and beef to the insert of a slow cooker. Add the reserved marinade liquid and enough stock to barely cover the meat. Add the bouquet garni, tomato paste and garlic and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high heat for 3 to 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours. (Alternatively, you can cook the stew without a slow cooker: Instead of cooking the bacon and beef in a skillet, simply start in a large Dutch oven and do not transfer the vegetables and beef. Cover the Dutch oven and place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F until the meat is tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.) 
  7. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the reserved bacon. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve piping hot with noodles, potatoes or rice. Or, better yet, cool, refrigerate and reheat to serve the next day.