This slow cooker beef and ale stew is the ultimate in pure comfort food in the winter months.
It has a rich gravy, thanks to the variety of different vegetables, and of course, the addition of a delicious ale.
For maximum flavour, this stew is started on the hob or stove top, then simmered until tender in the slow cooker.
So easy. You could just serve it with mash or a jacket potato after a long day.
After 30 years, I'm still in love with my original slow cooker and use it at least twice a week.
Who can resist coming home after a busy day and being greated by an amazing aroma coming from the kitchen? There is also that smug feeling that dinner isn't too far away.
Of course, a great thing about slow cooked stews is that they taste even better when they are reheated, as the flavours have a chance to develop. So, it makes sense to make a big batch and freeze or reheat leftovers and save energy costs.
With slow cooking, you can also buy the cheapest braising or stewing steak, which is often packed with flavour, due to the interconnective tissues in the meat melting away in the slow cooking process.
❤️ Why you will love this recipe
- Plenty of vegetables for a balanced meal.
- Budget friendly.
- Delicious as a weeknight dinner or for entertaining.
- Easy to vary the ingredients if needed.
- Great for getting ahead and batch cooking for the freezer.
- Feeds 4 hearty appetites or 6 normal meals.
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- Beef - any beef labelled strewing steak, casserole steak or braising steak. Due to the long cooking process, any cheaper, tougher cut can be used.
- Carrots - any shaped carrots as they will be cut up.
- Onions - brown onion.
- Leeks - a leek, using the white part only.
- Celery - this gives a huge amount of flavour to the beef casserole.
- Garlic - garlic cloves for added flavour.
- Worcester sauce - for added richness.
- Ale - any dark ale or beer that you enjoy. Lager or light beer will not work in this recipe.
- Seasoning - salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Oil - vegetable or olive oil for frying.
- Bay leaves - use dried bay leaves as they have a subtle favour. Fresh leaves can be overpowering.
- Stock - beef stock made with concentrate or fresh beef stock.
- Herbs - dried mixed herbs or a few sprigs of fresh thyme tied together with string.
- Flour - plain or all purpose flour to thicken the gravy.
The recipe card with ingredient quantities and detailed instructions can be found at the bottom of the post.
- 3.5 litre /5.3 pint capacity slow cooker
- chopping board
- sharp knife
- wooden spoon
- large skillet or frying pan
- slotted spoon
Cut the meat into bite sized pieces.
If you have bought ready cut meat then check that the pieces are roughly the same size. I often find that some pieces have been missed.
Peel and chop the onion and garlic.
Finely slice the celery.
Cut the leek in half lengthways then slice.
Slice the carrots into similar sized pieces, as they take time to cook. If you have a mixture of large and small carrots, slice the large ones lengthways first.
Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened.
Tip in the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Next, add the carrots, leeks and celery and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan over a medium to high heat.
Season the beef pieces with salt and pepper and sear all over.
💭 Top Tip
- It's easier to sear the meat in batches without crowding the pan. . This ensures that the meat is nicely caramelised rather than steamed.
- Put the meat in the pan and leave for a few minutes. Use tongs to turn the pieces over.
- Transfer the seared meat to a plate with a slotted spoon, then continue to cook the next batch of meat. Add more oil if required.
When all the meat has been seared, transfer the meat back into the frying pan over a medium heat.
Sprinkle the flour over the meat and stir for a minute until fully mixed.
Slowly stir in the ale and beef stock, allowing the mixture to thicken as it comes to a simmer.
Add the bay leaf and transfer to the slow cooker.
💭 Slow cooking tips
- Preheat the slow cooker while you are preparing the ingredients.
- Vegetables can take a long time to cook in a slow cooker, so always place large pieces at the bottom. A slow cooker with a larger capacity cooks vegetables more evenly.
- Make sure that there is at least 2 centimetres of space in the bowl when it is full.
- Do not remove the lid in the first half of the cooking time, as valuable heat will be lost and cooking time will need to be extended.
- All stock should be boiling when added at the beginning of cooking.
- Slow cookers may need more or less time, so make sure that the meat is tender before serving.
- It's not a problem if the slow cooker beef and ale stew is left to cook for a few extra hours.
⏲️ Slow Cooking Time
Cook on HIGH for 4 - 5 hours, or LOW for 7 - 10 hours.
Check the seasoning and the consistency of the gravy before serving.
If the gravy is too thin for you liking, combine a tablespoon of cornsflour with the same quantity of water and stir through the beef and ale casserole.
Leave for about 15 minutes to thicken.
🥗 Serve with
Try this slow cooker steak and ale stew wth mash, bread or some of these side dish ideas.
- Honey Roast Chantenay Carrots
- Leeks in White Sauce
- Honey Roast Carrots and Parsnips
- Fried Cabbage with Bacon
- Roast Savoy Cabbage
- Whole Baked Cauliflower Cheese
- Roasted Green Beans and Carrots
- Roasted Long Stem Broccoli
- Roasted Swede Chips
- Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Worcester sauce - try soy sauce, mushroom ketchum or balsamic vinegar instead.
- Venison - replace the beef and ale with diced venison and red wine.
- Vegetables - swap the vegetables for potatoes, parsnips, swede or squash. Make sure that they are cut into small chunks. Alternatively, use whole shallots or mushrooms for a change.
- Refrigerator - store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freezer - cool and pack into a container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To reheat - Place in a covered casserole dish in the oven at 180 C / 350 F / 160 FAN / Gas 4 for 20 to 30 minutes until piping hot. Alternatively place in the slow cooker.
🍱 Prepare in Advance
- Prepare all the vegetables 1 or 2 days in advance and store in containers in the fridge.
If you prefer, you can add all the ingredients to the slow cooker without any precooking. This is useful if you don't have much time.
However, the cooking time will be much longer and should be cooked on high.
The meat is seared doe added flavour and to improve the appearance of the meat. Without searing the meat it will have an unappetising grey colour.
If you ever wondered if searing beef makes it more tender, it's more about the taste. It's not about locking juices in or making it tender as the cooking process will take care of that.
The main purpose of searing protein, such as beef, over a high heat with only a little oil, is to produce the Maillard effect. This is the chemical reaction that occurs between the proteins, or amino acids in meat and fish and the natural sugars. This is what gives the meat, colour, flavour and makes it irresistable!
More slow cooker recipes
- Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole
- Slow Cooker Christmas Pudding
- Slow Cooker Brisket and Gravy
- Slow Cooker Beef Cheeks
- Slow Cooker Turkey Crown
- Slow Cooker Corned Beef Hash
- Slow Cooker Chocolate Rice Pudding
Slow Cooker Beef and Ale Stew
- 3.5 litre /5.3 pint capacity slow cooker
- Chopping board
- Sharp knife
- large skillet or frying pan
- Slotted spoon
- Wooden spoon
- 800 g stewing beef
- 200 ml ale
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 onion
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon bovril or beef stock cube
- 2 tablespoon Worcester sauce
- 4 carrots
- 1 leek
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 teaspoon mixed herbs dried
- Cut the meat into bite sized pieces.
- Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Finely slice the celery.
- Cut the leek in half lengthways then slice. Slice the carrots into similar sized pieces
- Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for a further minute then add the carrots, leeks and celery and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker.
- Heat the remaining oil in the pan over a medium to high heat.
- Season the beef pieces with salt and pepper and sear all over.
- When all the meat has been seared, transfer the meat back into the frying pan over a medium heat.
- Sprinkle the flour over the meat and stir for a minute until fully mixed.
- Slowly stir in the ale and beef stock, allowing the mixture to thicken as it comes to a simmer.
- Add the bay leaf and transfer to the slow cooker.
- Cook on HIGH for 4 - 5 hours, or LOW for 7 - 10 hours.
- Check the seasoning and the consistency of the gravy before serving.
- If the gravy is too thin for you liking, combine a tablespoon of cornsflour with the same quantity of water and stir through the beef and ale casserole.
- Leave for about 15 minutes to thicken.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article
More recipes to try
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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