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Crock Pot Beef Stew Recipe
French Estouffade Provençale

This crock pot beef stew recipe requires a little work to get it started, but the minimal effort will pay off with a rich and flavorful dinner waiting for you at the end of the day.

What is Estouffade?

Estouffade is a cooking technique that is popular in the south of France. It is essentially a stew that simmers at a low temperature for many hours. Long slow cooking virtuallly guarantees tender results, even when using less expensive cuts of meat.

Although beef estouffades are probably the most common, an estouffade might be made with beans, tomatoes and garlic, with partridge and lentils, or with other combinations of ingredients and flavors. The essential point is that the dish needs to cook slowly. This makes it perfect for the crock pot.

The flavors in this crock pot beef stew recipe are surprisingly complex and layered. Use a fairly decent wine to make it as the flavor of the wine is definitely going to determine the outcome of the dish. I like to use Nyon olives, but more easily found Nicoise olives will work as well. For a delicious and satisfying meal, try serving this in large shallow bowls with a side of cheese topped polenta.

Estouffade Provençale

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 8 hours

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces lardons or lean bacon, sliced in 1/4 inch x 1 inch pieces
  • 3 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 1/2 pounds stew beef, trimmed of all visible fat
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 bouquet garni (oregano, thyme and bay leaf)
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups unpitted black olives

Directions

  1. Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy skillet on medium heat. Add the bacon, sliced onions, sliced fennel, and crushed garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
  2. Meanwhile, slice the stew beef into about 2 ounce pieces, and trim off all visible fat. When the vegetables have softened, scoop them into the crockpot. Return the skillet to medium heat, and heat the last tablespoon of olive all. Add the beef to the skillet and brown on all sides. Sprinkle with salt and peper (little or no salt may be needed as the bacon and olives add quite a bit.)
  3. Stir in the flour and mix well to coat the meat. Transfer the meat to the crock pot.
  4. Thin the tomato concentrate paste with a little wine, then mix it all with the wine. Pour this on top of the meat, and stir everything together.
  5. Plunge the bouquet garni into the center of the meat. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low. Stir in the olives 30 minutes before serving.

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