It's hard to find fault with a basic beef stew. Better, though, is one that riffs on the standby. And while it's a time-consuming endeavor to get it right, fortunately using the slow cooker means very little of that time is hands-on.
Here, a fragrant mix of harissa spices—paprika, chile, cinnamon, coriander, mint, and caraway—lends nuance. Pickled peperoncini and Worcestershire sauce are key additions that help lend depth. Taking the time to brown the beef is important, as it builds flavor from the onset and prevents the dish from tasting one-note. The stew is bolstered by tiny potatoes and carrots, but feel free to add in other veggies or legumes at your discretion: sweet peppers and chickpeas work well.
While the lemon yogurt that finishes the dish is not requisite, the creamy tang is a welcome way to offset the heady spices.
Note: Feel free to make the stew up to two days in advance, as the flavors will improve in the refrigerator. It freezes beautifully, too.
- Yield:Serves 4
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:8 1/2 hours
- For the Stew:
- 1 cup flour
- 2 pounds of beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium beef broth
- 1 pound small potatoes, preferably fingerlings
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup jarred peperoncini, sliced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground chile powder, such as ancho or guajillo
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
- 1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seed
- 2 (1-inch) strips of orange zest
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Place flour in a large, shallow dish. Generously season beef with salt and pepper. Toss meat in flour to coat and shake off excess. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a larges straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of meat and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker and repeat with remaining beef, adding more oil as needed.
When beef is browned, drain excess oil. Add wine to pan and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Transfer to slow cooker.
Add Worcestershire sauce, garlic, tomatoes, beef stock, potatoes, onion, carrots, peperoncini, paprika, chile powder, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, mint, caraway, orange zest, and bay leaves to slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Set slow cooker to low setting and cook until meat is fork-tender and potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 8 hours. Discard bay leaves and orange zest.
Combine yogurt and lemon zest in a small bowl. Ladle stew into bowls and top with a dollop of lemon yogurt. Serve immediately.