Day 11 – Countdown to Christmas Classic French Beef Stew in the Crock Pot

With winter here in full force (thank you Mother Nature for the lovely ice storm yesterday by the way), we are all about comfort food that warms your soul.  It’s funny as growing up I hated traditional beef stew.  It just was yucky.  It wasn’t soup and it wasn’t beef roast with broth. It was just.. I don’t know yucky. Now my family loved it but not this girl.  It’s funny as I can remember this one time my Mom saw Julia Child make beef stew using red wine and she tried to replicate it.  Now mind you, my mother never drank.  I think maybe once a year IF that and usually that was a ‘High-Ball’ drink that after one drink she was tipsy giddy.  So she had my Dad get 2 bottles of red wine just in case she messed it up.  Well somewhere along the way she must have tasted the wine because 1 ENTIRE BOTTLE went into a pot of stew and 1 ENTIRE BOTTLE went into my Mother’s tummy!  LOL  Yes, my mother was drunk.  I can still remember her laughing for no reason, tears running down her face and grabbing a handful of flour and just throwing it at my father telling him to ‘hush’ and eat the stew.  See the thing is, that stew was inedible.  I mean these were BIG bottles of wine and literally you could have gotten drunk off from eating it.  So yeah, I think it was then that kind of turned me against stew…and wine.

However as I got older my taste buds changed and I started to truly appreciate flavors.  While I never developed a liking for wine I did develop a fond love of classic French Stew.  Now stews come in various ways – those with beer in it, those with red wine and even though with all stock.  I like ’em all and make them often in the cold winter months.

Classic French Stew1

I guess my true love for beef stew stems from my love of the movie/musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers“. I can remember growing up, and even as I got older and lived on my own my sister would come over, we’d make a batch of something to eat and then sit on the couch singing at the top of our lungs along with the movie.  Now there’s a scene in the movie where Adam (the lead character and oldest sibling) heads into town to find himself a wife.  As he wanders around town he stops in at the local bar and grabs a bite to eat.  There is Milly dishing out her infamous stew.  As she plops a big ol’ helping on his plate Adam asks for the ketchup.  Milly stands up proudly and says “My stew can stand on its own feet!” Sure enough that stew won Adam over, sans the ketchup.  That there I think is what made me want to revisit this whole stew thing.  See I’m a ketchup girl through and through. I mean I’m from Pittsburgh and we are comprised of Steelers, Penguins and Heinz Ketchup after all. LOL

Now I won’t lie, the first 5 or so batches were pretty awful.  The meat was tough, veggies were hard or it just had no flavor however I was persistent to make this.  I wanted to be like Milly – I wanted my food to stand on its own without the ketchup… and maybe land me a husband *wink*  LOL

Classic French Stew

Well I’m happy to say that after many, many attempts at this dish, I finally nailed it.  I’ve been making this stew the same way for years now.  It’s hearty and so packed full of flavor. This dish is a must in our house in the winter months.

I typically make this in the crockpot and let it cook all day.  Nothing is better than coming home to a house that smells of this while you’ve been at work.  You literally run into the house. Since Mr. Fantabulous works from home it also allows me to torture him with the smells. He’s been trained to not touch or take off the lid so he just has to deal with the amazing smells all day.  Trust me, by the time I walk in the door he’s going nuts begging to eat dinner ASAP!  LOL

So when Mother Natures decides to get a bug up her butt and bring on some nasty cold wintery weather your way, throw this in the crock and sit there snuggled under your blanket while this cooks and just relax.  Let her dump a foot of snow on you – your belly will be full and warm!

Classic French Stew2

Day 11 - Countdown to Christmas Classic French Beef Stew in the Crock Pot


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  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 1 1/2” cubes (I prefer chuck roast)
  • 2 Tbl vegetable oil
  • 6-9 small red potatoes (if they are larger, just cut into 1 1/2” cubes leaving the skin on)
  • 2 to 3 carrots cut into 1/2” slices
  • 2 large yellow onions, minced
  • 2 springs of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 cups good red wine (or burgundy wine)
  • 4 cups beef stock (low or no sodium if using canned)
  • 1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups peas (frozen/thawed or canned/drained)
  • 1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced into 1/2” slices
  1. Pat the beef dry and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and pepper.
  2. Place 1/2 cup flour in a re-sealable plastic bag.
  3. Add the beef to the bag, several pieces at a time, and shake to coat completely.
  4. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the 2 tsp oil.
  5. In batches (don’t overcrowd the pan), add the beef and cook, turning, for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned on all sides.
  6. Transfer the browned pieces to the slow cooker, add 2 more tsp of oil to the sauté pan and continue browning the rest of the beef.
  7. Place all beef in the Crock Pot.
  8. Add the rest of the oil (~2 tsp) to the pain and add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt.
  9. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are softened and lightly brown.
  10. Add in the stock, 1 1/2 cups wine, thyme and bay leaves to the pan.
  11. Bring to a boil and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits of awesomeness (this is key to the flavor!) on the bottom of the pan.
  12. Pour this all over top the meat in the Crock Pot.
  13. Add in the potatoes, carrots and mushrooms on top.
  14. Cook for 8-9 hours on low or 6-7 on high.
  15. When done, put the slow cooker on high and whisk together the 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup wine.
  16. Pour the mixture in along with the peas, replace the lid and cook for 15-20 minutes for the sauce to thicken.
  17. Remove the bay leaves, adjust salt and pepper.

Check out the rest of the Countdown to Christmas 2013 recipes, tips and tricks!


19 Responses to “Day 11 – Countdown to Christmas Classic French Beef Stew in the Crock Pot”

  • JoeW says:

    In the slow cooker, as we speak.

    Not allowed to cook with mushrooms (I’m crying on the inside as I type this), so added some Maggi seasoning. Not the same, but needs must.

    The ingredients have Worcestershire, but the instructions don’t. I put them into the cooker with the wine mixture.

    Will let you know how it turns out.


  • Jenny says:

    Wondering if this fits in a small crockpot or large? Would it work to double and fit in a large? Thank you! Wanting to make for a Christmas Eve dinner for 6 people – 3 of them men.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Jenny!

      I use a 6qrt crock pot ( If this is your dinner then you can double and put in a larger crock pot. You’ll have extra for leftovers but this freezes really well!

      Merry Christmas!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Kim says:

    Hi, wanting to make this stew but wondering can I use Cabernet red wine? Sorry but I don’t know wine very well.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Kim,

      Oh sweetie I honestly have no clue. I’m so not a wine person at all but I think that should work as it’s a more deeper wine.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Funnygal says:

    Can we use almond flour instead? I’m trying to cut down the carbs.

  • Farmer Girl says:

    Ohhh, this looks so amazing!! I’m all ready to try it! Do you think it would work using a gluten-free flour though? Maybe an all purpose blend? Or just tapioca? Same amounts??

    Merriest of Christmases!! 🙂

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hey Farmer Girl!

      Merry Christmas to you as well 🙂 I would go with cornstarch in lieu or flour or yes, gluten free ap would work. All this acts as is a browning agent and when it cooks, to help thicken up the sauce to a more stew thickness.

      Best Kitchen Wishes and Merry Christmas!

      • Farmer Girl says:

        Update: I made this with Bob’s Red Mill AP GF Flour and it was A-MAZ-ING!! I cut the recipe in half because it was all the stew beef I had on hand and was only for two of us. It worked out so well! Since there wasn’t as much, it was in the crockpot on low for just six hours. The meat was incredibly tender and it was the perfect thickness. THANK YOU for this wonderful recipe 😊 will definitely make again!!

        Happy New Year!

  • Jim Bain says:

    How many people does this recipe serve? I’m hoping to do it for a Christmas gathering of about 15 people and wonder whether I should double? Triple? Thanks so much. It looks as if it will be just like a burgundy stew my Mom made so many years ago. It’ll be awesome, I’m sure.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Jim!

      This recipe serves 6 people as a meal. If you’re serving this as a meal I would triple it. If you’re serving it as a side, then double is plenty. I often double it just so I can have lots of leftovers.

      Mmmm I love burgundy stew (Beef Bourguignon).

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Julie says:

    I made this recipe 2-3 times and the fam loved it! I have tried numerous beef stew recipes in the past, so far
    this is the only hit..hallelujah! Looking forward to this Fall/Winter and make it again.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Thank you so very much Julie! I’m making it this week actually as it’s getting chilly here in the evenings.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • My Question is this: Can I slow-cook this in the oven, say at 250 degrees and if so for how long?
    My Crock-pot broke a while back and I have not been able to afford a new one, yet!
    I have a similar recipe, very close to yours, I obtained from my Aunt who is from France. She cooks hers in the oven.
    After reading your recipe, I have to make it! (My mouth is watering!) LOL! It is a delicious recipe! I serve it with a green salad and crusty French Bread. YUM!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hey Ms. Sugar Shack Pam 🙂

      Yes you can cook this in the oven. I would alter the recipe this way:

      – Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.
      – Braise the meat in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot (that has a tight lid).
      – Remove the browned meat and add the onions and salt; cook until softened.
      – Add in the stock, 1 1/2 cups wine, thyme and bay leaves to the pan.
      – Bring to a boil and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits of awesomeness (this is key to the flavor!) on the bottom of the pan.
      – Add the meat in and allow to return to a boil (just to where it starts to boil).
      – Cover with the lid and pop in the oven.
      – After 2 hours add in the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms.
      – Cook for another 40-60 minutes or until the veggies are soft.
      – Remove from the oven and bring to a boil.
      – Whisk together the 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup wine and add to the mix.
      – Cook until just thickened.
      – Add in the peas, gently stir and remove from the heat.
      – Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves before serving. Adjust salt/pepper to your liking.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Ellen "Dee" says:

    Can you or any of your foodie family explain to this ole lady when does stew become vegetable soup or vice versa? Is the amount of liquid, the number of different vegetables, the size of the cut? I make what I call vegetable soup & have for 50 years. So any one got an answer for me.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Dee 🙂

      A stew won’t become a soup (well unless it’s screwed up… lol). The main differences are:

      Stew – usually thicker, almost “not-quite” gravy-like. It’s never boiled and cooked very slowly allowing the meats to become tender and the flavors to marry. In addition the meats are normally coated in flour and pan seared first – this then ultimately allows for the thicker ‘sauce’. Normally the liquid is stock, beer, wine or a combination of any of those and rarely water. Stew is meant to be served as the main dish as it’s to be hearty and filling.

      Soups – usually made with stock and water. It’s often boiled and cooked in a faster time. Most soups have a thin water-based (or juice- or milk-based) broth. Soups are typically served in a bowl, can be cooked or uncooked, be served hot or cold and if you’re using fruit, they can be served as a dessert.

      So think of it this way, if the dish can be ladled onto a plate and not run off, it’s most likely a stew.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

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