Monday, December 19, 2011

Slow Cooker Beef Stew Chili

As a new mom, I am finding 5pm to 6pm to be one of the hardest times of the day to get anything done. Layla seems to want the most attention around the time I am trying to cook dinner (Not the best Sous Chef yet) I have tried to juggle her and cooking at the same time and it has resulted in the burning of dinner.

Now that I am home a lot with the new baby I like to get the cooking or preparation done early, during nap time. The slow cooker is one of the best ways to cook with a new baby. I try to use it once a week.

A little known fact about Tom and myself, we like to eat spicy food. If you like southwestern/Mexican flavors with a little spice you will enjoy this beef stew chili recipe very much. I like to serve this stew with homemade croutons instead of slices of bread. It gives the stew a great crunch.

Beef Stew Chili with Butternut Squash:
Serves 4 

1 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat (boneless chuck), cut into 1/2" cubes
3/4 Tbsp salt
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, minced (Remove the seeds for less heat)
2/3 cup red wine
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes with juices
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
2 cups butternut squash, 1/2" cubes
1 cup carrots, diced
Sour cream, cilantro and cheddar cheese for serving. -optional

1. Heat a large dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom with oil. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add to pan. Brown on all sides for 8 mins. Add beef to the slow cooker.  

2.  Add in a little more oil and sautee the onion and bell pepper for 3 mins until softened. Add in tomato paste, garlic and jalapeno; sautee 2 mins, stirring constantly.

3. Add in wine and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan for 2 mins. Pour mixture over beef in the slow cooker.

4. In the slow cooker, stir in the following ingredients: chili powder, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, kidney beans, butternut squash and carrot.

5. Cook on low heat for 8 hours or high heat for 4 hours. Serve with sour cream, cilantro and cheddar cheese. Top with homemade croutons (recipe below)

Homemade Croutons:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dice baguette or Italian bread into 1/2' cubes and place on a baking sheet. Coat the bread with olive oil, salt and pepper and mix. You can add other herbs such as, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, oregano etc... Bake in the oven for 10-15 mins. Mix the croutons half way through cooking time. Check occasionally to make sure they are not browning too fast, they should be golden brown.

(Recipe adapted from cooking light)

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