Southern-Inspired Beef Stew

1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 stalks celery, diced
8 oz cubed crimini mushrooms
1 1/2 lb cubed sirloin or other beef for stew
28 oz canned diced tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
1/2 lb okra, diced
9 oz fresh or frozen lima beans
6 oz fresh or frozen corn
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
super fine flour (like Wondra flour)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Toss the beef with the salt, pepper and some super fine flour to coat. Set aside. Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven and add the beef, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms. Saute until the beef is lightly browned on all sides and the vegetables are just beginning to soften. Pour the mixture into a 4 or 6 quart slow cooker. Add the stock, tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir in the okra, corn, and lima beans. Cook for an additional 1-2 hours. Remove the bay leaf prior to serving. Stir. Garnish with parsley.

My thoughts:

Making stew always makes me think of my Grandpop. He’d make stew with beef and anything that caught his fancy. Some weeks it would have tomatoes, some times green beans, all sorts of things. The best part was that when I’d come home from school, the whole house smelled like it even though he lived in an in-law apartment and made it in his own separate kitchen. He’d serve me some as an afterschool snack. Now it is my job to make stew, and I like to make it into the slow cooker versus the stove top because it makes my house smell great all day. The beef gets super tender too. The problem with slow cooker beef stew is that some times it becomes a big pot of blah. I avoid this by stirring in fresh and/or frozen vegetables towards the end of the cooking period for a burst of fresh flavor. The result is just as comforting but has a lot more punch. I took a similar approach as my Grandpop and added a hodgepodge of my favorite ingredients to make a wonderful tasting, satisfying, Southern-inspired stew.

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