Beef Stew with Bacon

It is so exciting when the weather turns cold because it's the perfect time to make stews and soups.Beef stew is such a basic dish, but everyone makes theirs a little differently. I used a Williams-Sonoma recipe this time and added my own touches like thyme, fresh green peas and potatoes. The bacon adds an awesome flavor and after the meat is browned, it cooks itself in the crock pot. Yum!

Beef Stew with Bacon
  • 4 oz. thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 2 lbs. boneless beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into chunks
  • 8 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 3 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 onion, sliced into thin slices
  • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh peas (frozen works well, too!)
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large saute pan over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off the drippings into a bowl, leaving  about 1 tablespoon of drippings in the pan.

In a sealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper.  Add the beef chunks and shake to coat evenly with the flour mixture. Heat the bacon drippings in the saute pan to medium-high heat. When the drippings are hot, add half of the beef chunks and cook, turning once, until well browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining beef chunks, adding the reserved drippings if needed. Scatter the mushrooms, carrots, and onions on top.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the wine, broth and tomato paste. Mix well, bring to a boil and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the pan bottom. Add thyme and Worcestershire sauce to the liquid and pour the contents of the pan over the vegetables and beef. Cover and cook on the high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or the low-heat setting for 8 to 9 hours.  Stir in the reserved bacon, the fresh (or frozen peas) and a little more beef broth if the mixture is too thick. Cook, uncovered, on the high-heat setting for 10 minutes more to thicken the sauce. Enjoy!

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