Preparing Slow Cooker Stews: Tips & Tricks
In this video you will learn how to recognize different meats used for your beef stew and how to prepare them before dropping everything in the crock pot.
Chef Tony Hedger from L’Ecole Culinaire in St. Louis Missouri brings us several key tips and tricks that will really help make the stew preparation process as easy as possible.
If you like to read, check out the video transcript below:
Good morning, I’m Chef Tony Hedger from L’Ecole Culinaire in St. Louis Missouri. Today we’re going to be talking about how to make a beef stew in a slow cooker a lot of slow cookers are just like grills where people don’t know exactly where their hotspots are or how their slow cooker actually works
This was a brand new one for me it is a Hamilton Beach that I just purchased about a week or so ago. You’ll see that it has a keep warm low and high temperature range on there, you should always note in your manufacturers owner’s book how or what the temperature ranges are for your slow cooker that helps out right from the get-go.
Today we’re going to be talking about how to make a beef stew in a slow cooker a lot of us just throw everything together, we’re on the go we throw everything into the slow cooker. Boom we’re out the door not a good thing to do, especially when you’re putting raw meat into a broth. Okay, so not all meats are created equal I have two portions here I have a chuck roast which a lot of us are familiar with pot roast. The chuck comes from the front shoulder of the cow and of course we don’t know what this is. This is called stew meat but this could come from anywhere on the animal, if it is indeed cow.
Okay so we’re going to actually use this today and if you use the stew meat we know that it’s going to be definitely a tough piece of meat, so I’m kind of looking for a piece of meat that’s got a lot of fat to it. You’ll see a lot of connective tissue that’s there subcutaneous fat that no matter how much you chew, it it’s going to get a little bit bigger so today we’re going to actually trim that up a little bit.
Got to take a lot of that fat off nobody wants to actually eat the fat in their beef stew. I know I don’t and besides the fact that your beef stew will actually get a film that’s on the top of it, that film if you don’t cut it off will actually give a sour taste, or a none pure taste to your your beef stew, so we’re going to come in here we’re going to cut all this meat up here real quick the difference in beef stews and braises is that when we do braising braising is a large cut of meat. Beef stews on the other hand even though it’s the same principle is bite-sized pieces of meat, so we want to make sure that our children our wives our husbands don’t choke on pieces of meat.
That looks pretty good. All right so the next thing I’m going to do I’m going to grab a couple more pieces there I’m going to take a bowl. I’m going to put that meat into the bowl and season it. Nothing tastes good unless it’s seasoned believe me, so we’re going to kind of control the salt and pepper here a little bit I like a little bit of extra pepper, and we’re going to add a little bit of flour to that.
Now what is that flour in there for. That flour is in there for specifically that when you’re doing your slow cooking, not only does a facilitating the Browning process, but also will actually aid in the thickening process once you get to that point. Okay now that I’ve handled meat with those gloves, I’m going to go ahead and take those off.
Okay and we’re going to heat up some oil, get that heated up rather high, we want to make sure that we caramelize the outside of the beef, to get a nice brown. What that’s going to do for you is it’s going to lock in the juices. It’s going to lock in the juices, it’s going to allow your meat not only to be very flavorful and juicy, but it’s also going to keep it from drying out.
None of us like extra dry beef stew, we’re going to wait for that thing you’re going to see a little wave on top of that oil. Kind of stand back a little bit if you got it on high and we’re going to go ahead and put around. We should hear a sizzle right off the bat it got a low sizzle. Okay so basically what we’re going to do is going to put that out of the way and I shouldn’t be touching that meat any longer.
Make sure we come in here and we give it a good stir, in the meantime while this meat is browning we’re going to go ahead and what I’ve already done was preheated this slow cooker. It is on high so what I’m going to go ahead and do is I’m going to go ahead and reach out to my stock. See, I got a little towel in case that handles a little bit hot, we’re going to put it right into the slow cooker.
Now that stock is going to be right about 180 to 200 degrees, just below a boiling point okay, to that I’m going to add a little bit of water to make sure that because I’m using beef stock it doesn’t reduce down and get all gummy on me. I don’t like gummy stew, okay so here we have our stew going give a little toss, if you feel comfortable you can do that little number not in my kitchen my fiance yells at me for doing that.
So we’re going to go ahead we’re going to dump the raw vegetables in just whatever you like. I know a lot of people will put turnips in the stew potatoes parsnips carrots those types of things I like just the regular beef. I have potatoes today I used the regular red potatoes they seemed to hold up a little bit better, just check your starch content of your potatoes, these the starts content is rather high in some potatoes and the other potatoes are a little bit waxy like Yukon Golds. Okay, so now our vegetables are in okay so.
We’re going to let that temperature come up I still have that thing on. We’re going to go ahead and brown these off real quick, now the thing about it is is you want to make sure that what meat you’re using. A lot of times this meat here comes from the round which is the rear end of the animal. It’s going to be a lot tougher than what you have here.
The chuck is while some portions of the chuck are a little bit on the tougher side, a lot of it isn’t a lot of it is very very tender. So you may not want to cook this cut of meat as much as you would this cut of meat.
Okay, so if you look in there, we have a nice brown going and I’m going to take it just a little bit longer. The one thing that you have to remember is that your meat is not fully cooked. Get a nice brown going, okay now,this oil will make a difference if it’s in there.
So the only thing that I’m going to do is I’m going to take my dirty bowl, that I had, with my getting my meat all seasoned and I’m going to try to pour off a little bit of that oil. Very good, now coming back to the slow cooker, we’re going to go ahead and spoon it in.
Don’t do it from the high dive, because you don’t want to splash hot liquid all over yourself. If you look if you’re like me you get burns all over your your hands. Give it a good stir.
Now at this point is a good option for you to go ahead and start seasoning this so you have seasoning on your on the meat so we have salt and pepper already in there. One thing I also like to do is take a little bit of thyme sprig and you can use what type ever types of herbs you like. I’m going to go ahead and throw that in there and also a bay leaf,
Okay, now you’re getting ready to go to work… You still got that thing on HIGH don’t forget you got that thing on high. Okay, so we want to make sure that we take it down to LOW and then you can let this go for a couple hours without ever having to look at it.
The only thing that you may want to look, is to make sure that is still liquid you want to make sure that your vegetables and your meats are covered.
If you do that you’ll have a successful very successful slow cooking adventure. I hope you enjoyed this little tip my name is Tony Hedger and this is how to cook beef stew in a slow cooker. Thank you!
Hope you learned a few tricks in this how-to video. Don’t forget to share…
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