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story.lead_photo.caption Slow cooker beef stew - Photo by Kelly Brant

There are two major drawbacks to cooking beef stew in a slow cooker:

1. It won't help heat your house on a frigid day the way cooking stew on the stove or in the oven can.

2. It's torture when the aroma of the stew fills your house, yet it's still hours until dinnertime.

But the payoff is well worth it. Especially if you can hold off eating the stew for another day. As good as this stew is the day it's made, it's ever better the next day.

And even though cooking this stew won't warm your house, it will warm your belly and quite possibly (if yours is anything like mine) your husband's heart.

This is a small-batch recipe, perfect for my household of two to enjoy over the course of two days. But it can be easily doubled to make more, if you have a large slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

1 pound stew beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup dry red wine (I used 19 Crimes The Banished dark red blend)

1 1/2 cups beef stock or vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, cut into thick wedges

2 ribs celery, roughly chopped

1 1/2 pounds small potatoes, halved or quartered

1 cup frozen lima beans or cut green beans, optional

1/2 pound carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces

Toss beef cubes with flour to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Brown beef on all sides in butter in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Transfer beef to slow cooker. (A 2 1/2- to 4-quart cooker will work for a small batch; for a larger batch you'll need a larger slow cooker.)

Add wine, broth, bay leaves, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and garlic to the pan and bring mixture to a boil, scraping up any browned bits, over medium heat. Boil 2 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in wine mixture. Cook on low for about 6 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender. If stew is too thin, thicken it by whisking a bit of the liquid in a small bowl with about 1 tablespoon of flour, then whisk the smooth flour mixture into the stew. Discard bay leaves before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Food on 01/10/2018

Print Headline: Slow Cooker Stew warms soul

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