This Slow Cooker Beef in Red Wine recipe is so easy to throw together. It tastes rich and decadent, whilst being extremely nourishing.
A magical thing happens when you cook beef in a slow cooker.
The structure of the meat changes to the point that it literally falls apart with tenderness.
It becomes soft and almost creamy which not only makes it incredibly tasty, but also extremely easy to digest too.
Slow Cooker Easy Beef Stew
As with most savoury recipes, we’re going to start off with the onions and garlic.
I’m opting to use these little shallots, but you can certainly swap them out for regular onions if you prefer.
Shallots do tend to be more expensive than regular white onions. So if you’re watching the budget, this is an easy place to save some pennies.
Next up I’m adding 6 cloves of fresh garlic.
To make peeling garlic cloves easier, I cut the blunt end off each clove, then squash the whole clove under the flat blade of a chopping knife.
The papery casing then falls off easily.
However, if you have a jar of ready to use garlic in the fridge you can certainly use that instead.
In this recipe I would use about 1 heaped teaspoon in place of the fresh.
You could also use dried garlic powder in a pinch, but this would work out far more expensive.
If that’s all you have, I would go with about 1 level teaspoon.
Best Slow Cooking Beef Cuts
Here in the UK, the best cuts to look for when making a slow cooker beef stew are happily also the cheapest!
These cheaper cuts usually have more fat, tendons and even gristle. However, when those ‘bits’ are cooked slowly, they melt, soften and render.
This adds even more flavour to that delicious gravy, and more nutrients too.
Look out for:
- Shin of beef
- Beef chuck
- Stewing beef (this will likely be a mix of parts of the animal, the bits that the butcher trims off other joints he prepares)
Preparing Beef for a Slow Cooked Stew
You can of course cook a whole joint of beef in a slow cooker, but in this receipe we’ve chosen to dice the beef into bite sized pieces.
This will have two benefits:
1/ It’ll make the whole dish cook quicker
2/ It’ll make the dish more economial. With smaller pieces of meat you can easily bulk out the stew with more vegetables, thereby stretching out the meat to feed more people. And this won’t make a dent in the flavour at all.
By tossing the pieces of beef in flour, it allows you to get a lovely crusty sear in the frying pan.
And once in the slow cooker, the flour will work together with the red wine to create a thick, rich and decadent gravy.
Once the meat had browned you can pop that into the awaiting slow cooker.
Then add the onions to the frying pan and toss them around unitl they’ve picked up a little bit of colour too.
How (and why!) to Deglaze Your Pan
By this point the bottom of the frying pan will be sporting a crusty layer of flavour. And this must not go to waste!
So the next step is to pour the red wine into the pan, and as it bubbles away, simply scrape at all that flavour stuck to the bottom with a spatula.
If chef terms, this is known as ‘deglazing’ a pan and it’ll add even more flavour to the red wine that will become our gravy.
Finally, you can add everything to the slow cooker.
The beef, shallots, garlic, red wine with all those yummy bits scraped from the pan.
This is also the time to add the mustard. I’m using both wholegrain mustard and Dijon mustards.
If you prefer you can just use one mustard (just double the amount you add).
But as small jars of mustard are really cheap, if you can stretch to using both I would wholeheartedly recommend it.
How Long to Cook a Beef Stew in the Slow Cooker
And then finally you can pop the slow cooker on!
You have a coouple of choices at this point.
If you would like your meal to be ready in 3-4 hours, simply switch it to ‘High’.
If you would like your meal to be ready in 6- 8 hours, switch it to ‘Low’.
Whilst this slow cooker beef in red wine stew will be cooked by the 6 hours mark, you can safely leave it on high for the full 8 hours with no risk of burning, drying out (or setting your house on fire!)
Slow cookers can also safely be left on overnight, or whilst you’re out all day at work.
If you’re new to cooking with a slow cooker and this make you nervous, why not try it a couple of times whilst you’re home all day first.
Once you get over the worry of it blowing up (which it won’t!) I think you’ll fall in love with this simple way of cooking as much as I have!
And in case you’re already a slow cooker devotee, here’s my whole recipe collection: Slow Cooker Recipes
One other thing to quickly mention if you are new to the world of slow cookers.
Once the lid is on and it’s first switched on, don’t fuss with it at all.
A slow cooker works by slowly building up to the temperature needed to cook your food. Every time the lid is lifted, the temperature drops and you’ll be adding another 1/2 an hour or so to the total cooking time.
So as fascinating as it is, back off and let it do its job :)
Slow Cooker Beef in Red Wine
- 1 tbsp plain flour - seasoned with a little salt and pepper
- 600 g beef - a cheap stewing beef will be perfect. Dice into bite sized pieces
- 1 tbsp oil
- 400 g shallots - or onions, diced
- 6 cloves garlic - finely chopped
- 1 tbsp oil
- 850 ml red wine
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
- Salt & pepper
- 2 tsp cornflour - mixed with 4 tablespoons of cold water
If using shallots, cut in half or quarters depending on size. If using onions, dice them into bite sized pieces.
Roll the beef pieces around in the seasoned flour.
Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan until hot. Then sear the meat until it is nicely browned on all sides.
(when you throw the meat into the super hot pan, it will stick. Just wait 30 seconds or so and it will magically unstick itself. That is when it is perfectly seared, and time to turn it over. If you leave it much longer after searing, it will burn.)
Tip the seared meat into the slow cooker.
Add the second spoon of oil to the same pan, and throw in the onions.
You just want to get a little colour on their skins. Keep rolling them around in the pan until they have turned golden with the odd darker patch.
Then tip them into the slow cooker too.
Pour the red wine into the hot pan and using a spatula, scrape the bottom of the pan making sure you scrape up any gooey stuck bits.
Pour this in on top of the meat.
Add the chopped garlic and the mustard, then pop on the slow cooker lid.
Switch it on to 'Low' for 3-4 hours, or 'High' for 6-8 hours.
About 20 minutes before you're ready to eat, mix the cornflour and cold water together, then pour this slurry into the slow cooker.
Season with salt and pepper.
Stir, replace the lid, and let the cornflour slowly cook and thicken the lovely rich gravy.
Serve with mashed potatoes, or a hunk of fresh warm bread to mop up those delicious juices.