How to make flavorful barbecue beer beef stew in slow cooker

  • Caramelizing the beef cubes before adding to the slow cooker adds a depth of flavor, but you can skip that step.

    Caramelizing the beef cubes before adding to the slow cooker adds a depth of flavor, but you can skip that step. Katie Workman for Associated Press

 
Updated 3/15/2018 6:14 AM

Let's just start by saying that the words beef, beer and barbecue in a recipe title don't make my husband sad.

When browning beef for a stew (whether you're making it in a slow cooker, or a regular old pot or Dutch oven), it's less important to get all the sides of the cubes of beef barely browned than it is to get a couple of sides nicely caramelized. Getting all six sides of a cube-ish piece of meat is a bit painstaking, and I'm absolving you from the task.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

I actually read about a cool browning technique recently that helps if you are making a large amount of stew. Instead of browning all of the beef that's been cut into small pieces, just buy the stew meat in a whole piece and cut it into steaks, or buy the meat in steak form. Heat a little oil in a pan until it's quite hot and then sear the steaks on both sides, until nicely browned. Then cut the meat into 1-inch pieces. A nice deep browning on a couple of sides trumps barely browning on multiple sides.

If you didn't have time to brown the beef at all, you would still end up with a flavorful beef stew, but it's really worth it.

Parsnips look like pale carrots, beige in color, with a wider bottom near the root. They have a wonderful nutty sweetness. Look for smooth, hard parsnips with no sprouting. You could also use all carrots, or mix in potatoes or other root vegetables instead.

• Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.

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