Having a weekday Valentine’s Day dinner has made me resort to making my mom’s beef stew recipe…and you know what, it’s really good! Keep reading to see why I almost didn’t post it!
My table inspiration started with the bright colored napkins from when I first started working at Serena & Lily. I always love a touch of black, which inspired the matte black jars as vases. Years ago we went to a dinner at a modern restaurant in NYC (it’s no longer there), and they used small vintage dishes to serve butter. I loved this little detail and have copied it ever since using dishes from my grandmother’s china.
Let’s talk about that beef stew recipe…
I was recently in my hometown of Denver, nursing my mom back to health after knee surgery. I cooked up a storm so she would have meals in the freezer long after I was gone. But toward the end of my stay, she asked me to make beef stew. Not just any beef stew, but the kind she made all during my childhood. She used to make it before we went skiing, and when we got home, the beef stew would have been cooking all day in the crock pot. It was wonderful to come home after a day on the slopes and probably even better for my mom because dinner was done. A slice of white bread with butter, and that was dinner.
I’ve tried to make beef stew in every way possible without resorting to making it the way my mom did. Why did you ask? Because it’s too easy. And…it has a can of Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup….I know! Well if you are still reading…just know that I’m still sort of cringing that I’m actually doing a blog post about it, but I have to admit…it’s pretty darn good. Maybe, just maybe, there’s no substitute for the ease and deliciousness of this one dish. And doesn’t everyone need one of those meals in their back pocket? It takes 10 minutes tops to throw it all together, and 8-10 hours later, dinner is ready. I buy a delicious loaf of $8 bread at a nearby bakery and of course, some salted butter. A simple green salad if there’s time and a store-bought dessert, and it’s good enough for company.
I did make a few changes over the years. I buy the best quality meat (I ask the butcher what they recommend) and have them cut it into much larger chunks (or I cut it myself) than the pre-packaged stew meat at the grocery store. When I take it out of the package, I dry each piece on paper towels. Do you know where I learned this tip? From the movie Julie & Julia. The line goes something like…if you don’t dry the beef, it won’t brown… I have no idea how I missed this important point in cooking over the years, but now I must thank Nora Ephron for my perfectly browned meat.
Honestly, I don’t think my mom even browned it at all. She just threw it into the avocado green crock pot and let it cook all day long. Another change I sometimes do to make things more complicated is making mashed potatoes to serve with it rather than including small potatoes in the stew. Both ways are delicious, and certainly, adding potatoes to the stew saves time. A sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley on top is my way of pretending to ignore the aforementioned Campbell’s soup.
Simple, straight forward ingredients + (the soups)
Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew
This recipe for beef stew is so delicious and practically makes itself. You just have to be willing to get past that one ingredient-a can of Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 8-10 hours
- Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
- Yield: 3-4 1x
- 1 1/2 pounds stew meat
- One small bunch small carrots, peeled and chopped
- One small onion, peeled and sliced
- One half bag frozen pearl onions
- 8–10 small cremini mushrooms, cleaned and stems trimmed
- One bag of very small red potatoes (unless you are going to make mashed potatoes)
- One can Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup
- 1/2 can Campbell’s Beef Broth
- Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Cut the meat into large chunks and lay on paper towels, drying each piece
- Cut the small onion into slices and sauté with olive oil in a pan. When it has softened a bit, add the chunks of stew meat and quickly brown each side, turning each piece
- Pour the meat/onions into the slow cooker and add the carrots, mushrooms, pearl onions and potatoes
- Top with Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup and 1/2 of the can of beef broth
- Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours
I don’t have a fancy slow cooker…I actually have a $20 Crock-Pot and it works great.
Setting the table with flowers
This is the perfect dinner to serve on a weekday when you don’t have all day to prepare. You can shop the night before and in the morning, take 10 minutes to prepare the stew for the slow cooker, and then all you need to do is set the table, buy bread and dessert (or make this chocolate mousse ahead). I even set the table the day before, so all I have to do is light the candles. I made simple black vases using matte black paint and jars (from all the almond butter we use for our smoothies and protein bites) and then bought two bunches of flowers at Trader Joe’s. They look pretty lining the table, and at the end of the evening, my friends can each take one home.
Create several small flower arrangements using recycled jars painted matte black
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