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SLOW COOKER RECIPE: Beef and Wild Mushroom Stew

1-5oz package dried mushrooms, such as shiitake
1-cup boiling water
1/4-cup all purpose flour
2-tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2-tsp dried basil
1/2-tsp dried oregano
1/2-tsp salt
2-lbs stewing beef, cut into 1" cubes
2-tbsp vegetable oil
1-cup beef stock
2-medium carrots, peeled and cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into thirds
1-onion, chopped, or 15-20 pearl onions, peeled
2-cloves garlic, minced
8oz. button mushrooms, quartered
1/2-cup red wine
2-tbsp tomato paste

1-tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-bay leaf

In a 2-cup measure, combine dried mushrooms and boiling water
Let stand 20-30 minutes
In a heavy plastic bag, combine flour, pepper, basil, oregano, and salt
In batches, add beef to flour mixture and toss to coat
Transfer to a plate
In a large nonstick skillet, heat half the oil over medium heat
Cook the beef in batches, adding more oil as needed until browned all over
With a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker
Add beef stock to pan
Stir to scrape up brown bits and add to slow cooker
Add carrots, onion, garlic, button mushrooms, wine, tomato paste, vinegar, and bay leaf to slow cooker
With a slotted spoon, remove the re-hydrated mushrooms from water
Coarsely chop and add to slow cooker along with the soaking liquid
Stir well to combine all ingredients
Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours, until vegetables are tender and stew is bubbling
Remove bay leaf before serving