How to Make Beef Stew With Mushrooms in a Crock Pot
Last week we had a Stew Challenge on my Facebook's What I Cooked For Dinner Last Night. The idea is for everyone in the group to prepare a favorite stew and share it by submitting a photo. I knew I was going to have a busy day and going to play tennis in the evening so I decided to prepare this beef and mushroom stew in a crock pot.
I ran out to the market and picked up some ingredients that I like in my stews. It's cold and rainy today so this beef and mushroom stew will be great comfort food. As I'm typing this post, I can smell the meat and vegetables cooking.
Best Cut of Beef for Slow Cooked Stews?
I like using a beef chuck roast for beef stews. You can also use bottom round roast, top round roast, rump roast but I think chuck provides the best flavors and doesn't dry out as easily.
Check out my beef chart to see exactly where the beef chuck roast comes from.
The worse mistake you can make is using a leaner cut of beef like sirloin. You'll end up with sawdust-tasting cardboard chunks of meat that no amount of sauce will save.
Start With A Sear
Yes, it adds a little extra time to the cooking but it is so worth it in the end. The sear (browning the meat before adding to the crock pot) produces brown bits that stick to the pan.
You'll want to either scrape those brown bits up and add them to the cooking pot or deglaze the pan with a little red wine or beef stock and add everything to the pot.
Today I seared two pieces of chuck separately on both sides and then cut them up into chunks before adding them to the crock pot. The advantage of doing it this way was working with just two pieces of meat rather than twenty or more chunks.
The disadvantage is not being able to sear all sides of the beef cube but I really don't think it will make that much of a difference. I wonder if I seared one piece whole before cutting it up and the other cut up into pieces if I would be able to tell the difference?
How Big Should You Cut the Cubes
Most recipes say cut the cubes to 1 inch pieces. I often say to go larger, to about 1 - ½ inch pieces so the meat doesn't dry out so quickly, but today I went smaller.
I decided I wanted to cut the pieces into ½ inch to ¾ inch cubes for easier eating and no need for a knife. Yes, I was concerned the meat would be dry but it wasn't. It was moist and tender, in fact one of the most moist and tender stews I've ever prepared.
So that got me thinking, if it isn't the size of the cube of meat, what else could play into the moisture? The only other factor that could have made the difference is the meat.
I picked up the Certified Angus Beef Chuck Roast - USDA Choice Angus Beef Chuck. It was $6.99 per pound. I'm not sure if this meat made a difference but I can attest to its tenderness and moistness. Delicious!
Next Time Chicken Thighs
This stew was delicious and so easy to prepare that I'm going to try to duplicate it but this time with chicken thighs. I prefer the legs and thighs for braising and stewing because they don't dry out as easily.
I may make a few adjustments to the seasonings but the basics will be the same. You might want to substitute chicken stock for the beef stock and how about adding a few chopped apples.
As always, experiment and have fun with the recipe. And if you do happen to leave the house while the slow cooker is doing its job for several hours, you are going to come to a home filled with amazing aromas.
Beef and Mushroom Crock Pot Stew
- 4 ½ pounds beef chuck roast or two beef chuck roasts each weighing about 2-¼ lbs
- 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 7 ½ ounces Baby Bella mushrooms about 9 mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cups beef stock
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 7 ounces fresh carrots about 4 carrots, washed, peeled & cut into ¼ inch pieces
- 1 pound small red potatoes cut into ⅛'s
- 1 large yellow onion peeled, halved, quartered and then cut into eights
- 2 ribs of celery hearts washed and cut into ¼ inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning or use your own favorite seasonings
- 2 bay leaves
Prep the Ingredients
- Wash and dry all the vegetables that need to be cleaned. I removed the bottom halves of the mushroom stems with a paring knife.
- Slice, cut, chop or mince what needs to be prepped.
- In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- I like to remove the chuck roast from the packaging, give it a rinse and dry before working with it.
Brown the Beef
- Heat up a pan large enough to hold one of the chuck roasts over medium heat. When hot, add the roast and let it sear until one side becomes brown and easy to turn to the other side with kitchen tongs. If the meat is stuck to the pan, it needs a little more time.
- Flip and brown the other side. When done, transfer to a cutting board and when cool enough to work with, cut the roast into pieces. I cut mine into ½ inch pieces but you can go larger. I wouldn't go too much larger than 1 - ½ inches unless you are going to serve one or two pieces per person.
- While the meat is cooling down to handle, add the other piece of meat. I'm assuming you purchased two pieces and not one 4 - ½ pound roast. When browned, repeat the process of cutting the beef into pieces.
- When all the meat is cut into pieces, add it to the crock pot.
Add the Other Ingredients
- After the beef cubes are added to the crock pot, sprinkle some of the seasoned flour and stir. Add more flour and stir again. Keep adding flour and stirring until you use it all up.
- Add the beef broth, stir, then the vegetables, stir, then the Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay Seasoning, stir and then the bay leaves.
- Place the cover back on and cook on High for 5 hours or Low like I did for 9 hours.
A couple of things to remember:
You can overcook food in a crock pot. Just because you are cooking with low heat for hours, you want to be careful not to overcook meat so it dries out and tastes like shoe leather.
If you are cooking on Low, check after 6 or 7 hours and see how it is coming along.You'll be able to tell by sticking a fork into the meat and potatoes to see how they are doing. Or take a taste and see if the stew needs a little more seasoning.
Leave the stew alone until you test or give the stew a stir. Every time your remove the cover from a crock pot, you are losing a bunch of heat and slowing down the cooking process so trust you slow cooker and leave it alone.