When I was a kid, my mom would make beef stew on Halloween night. Her theory was that if we got a delicious, hearty meal before trick-or-treating, we wouldn’t stuff our faces with candy. She was partially right. We still stuffed our faces with candy, but we never ate quite as much as our friends who would eat candy the entire night.
My mom would prepare a big crock pot full of stew, it would simmer all day making the house smell amazing. We would eat dinner and be off to tick-or-treat. After that, there was always a lot of stew left over. Whenever someone we knew would come to the door looking for candy, my mom would give them a little chocolate bar and then invite them in for a bowl of beef stew. I swear, some years she fed every kid we knew in town.
This little memory is the reason why this is my favorite home cooked meal of all time. The taste and smell of the dish conjures up the excitement we felt getting ready for Halloween, the crisp leaves crunching under our feet, and the brisk Autumn air. To me, my mom’s beef stew tastes and smells like home, which is just so comforting when you’re so far away from everything you know.
Here’s the recipe:
Halloween Beef Stew
Cook time: 6 hours
Prep time: 20 minutes
You’ll need a slow cooker for this one!
Ingredients (amounts depend on how much you want to make and how big your slow cooker is):
- 1-2 pounds of beef chuck roast (make sure it’s well marbled)
- 4 cups of beef broth
- 1 cup of plain tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup of red wine (don’t worry, the alcohol will burn away and the kids will love it!)
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2-4 russet potatoes
- 1 large onion
- 1/2 pound of baby carrots
- 1/2 pound of white mushrooms
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 2 garlic cloves chopped or pressed
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite beef spice rub (I like Emeril’s Essence)
- 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil
- chili powder to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
You can chop the veggies and beef beforehand. I like to leave the baby carrots whole. I chop my beef into cubes that are between 1 and 2 inches. I cut the potatoes into quarters. I just chop the mushrooms in half. You can really cut the veggies any way you want, but remember it’ll get very mushy if you dice them up really small.
Season the beef with your favorite beef spice rub and dredge it in the flour, coating all sides. Then, oil a frying pan with the olive oil and put the pan on medium heat. Add the beef and brown the sides but do not cook all the way through. Remove the beef from the heat and put it into your cool, empty slow cooker.
Add the chopped onions to the same frying pan with the same oil that the beef was cooking in. Cook on medium heat until the onions are soft but not browned. Add them to your beef in the slow cooker. Do not turn the slow cooker on yet.
De-glaze your frying pan. Take the pan off the heat. Take 1/4 cup of your beef broth and add it to your cooling frying pan. mix it around a bit and add it to your (still cool) slow cooker. I do this because the beef and the onions leave a lot of delicious flavor behind in the pan and I want that in my stew.
Add all of the remaining ingredients into the (still cool) slow cooker, except the mushrooms. Mushrooms cook really fast so you’ll put them in later.
Mix thoroughly. Then, turn your slow cooker on high for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, turn the slow cooker to low and add the mushrooms. Cook that way for an additional 3 hours.
Enjoy with your favorite crusty bread on the side!