To make beef stew in the Crockpot, the one thing you need is a bit of time. But in many ways that is the usefulness of this recipe, and all slow-cooker meals. Too often we don’t make the distinction between food that takes a long time to cook and food that takes a long time to prep. Sure, there’s a bit of searing in the first step here, but after that, it’s basically a dump, set, and forget situation. This means that, in the morning before work, you can prep the ingredients (beef chuck roast, or whatever stew meat you like; root vegetables like carrots and potatoes; mushrooms and pearl onions; beef broth; and a few other aromatics), set it all for 8 hours in the Crock-Pot, and have dinner waiting for you when you come home.
This slow-cooker beef stew recipe does not have a slurry of thickened corn starch—for good reason: The chuck roast chunks, again, have already been floured, which helps thicken the stew a little later, but also it’s the looser, cleaner-tasting gravy that works well with a side of white rice versus the usual heavy, dense mashed potato pairing. That said, feel free to serve this beef stew with whatever you like, and add whatever vegetables you prefer. Instead of carrots and potatoes, try parsnips and turnips. And if you are used to the thicker gravy, just add a slurry of broth and corn starch in the last 30 minutes of cooking, or stir in a bit more flour at the end.
This recipe is really just a blueprint, so try not to stress about it. The nature of a stew is that there are no rules—only personal taste. —Max McDonough