A Crock-Pot beef stew with gravy is a hearty, comforting meal. Follow these steps to use frozen beef to make stew in a Crock-Pot. All you have to do is toss the ingredients in the slow cooker and eight hours later, ta-da!
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You can use frozen beef to make stew, provided you follow certain food safety guidelines to minimize the chances of catching food poisoning.
Safely Using Frozen Stewing Beef
Stewing beef, or beef that is prepackaged and sold for stew, is usually made of tougher, leaner cuts of beef that need to be cooked in moist heat to become tender and flavorful. Using a Crock-Pot for beef stew with gravy is ideal because the low heat helps tenderize leaner, less expensive cuts of meat, according to the USDA.
You can use frozen beef to make stew in a Crock-Pot, provided you thaw the meat completely first. The USDA explains that slow cookers operate at a very low temperature, usually between 170 and 280 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooker may therefore take some time to reach a temperature that is high enough to kill harmful bacteria, which tend to multiply rapidly at room temperature.
Thawing the frozen meat in the refrigerator and keeping it refrigerated until you're ready to cook it can help ensure that bacteria don't get too much of a window of opportunity to multiply before the temperature inside the slow cooker is high enough to neutralize them.
The USDA also recommends keeping the slow cooker on the high heat setting during the first hour of cooking to help it heat up faster and then turning it down to the medium or low heat setting for the remainder of the cooking time.
Old-Fashioned Beef Stew in a Slow Cooker
LIVESTRONG.com lists an easy recipe for old-fashioned beef stew in a slow cooker that uses a combination of herbs, spices, vegetables and frozen beef to make stew in a Crock-Pot.
Here's what you need to do:
- Prep the vegetables: Slice three medium-sized carrots, chop one medium-sized stalk of celery, dice half a medium-sized onion and cube three red potatoes. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln notes that red potatoes hold their shape well when cooked in a stew.
- Coat the beef with flour: Use 1/4 cup of flour to coat 1.5 pounds of raw beef chuck. Make sure all the cubes of beef are coated evenly. You can make the stew immediately, or if you want to make it later, put the flour-coated beef and the chopped vegetables in a freezer bag and freeze them until you're ready to cook them. Remember to thaw the meat before you put it in the slow cooker.
- Add the ingredients to the slow cooker: Put the beef and vegetables in the slow cooker. Add 1 ½ cups of beef broth, ⅓ cup of red wine, 1 tablespoon of Worcester sauce, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper and a bay leaf. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln recommends using any leftover broth to cook rice.
- Let the stew cook: In approximately eight hours of cooking over medium heat, you will have yourself a delicious Crock-Pot of beef stew with gravy.
According to LIVESTRONG.com, this old-fashioned beef stew made in a slow cooker provides 343 calories, 34 grams of protein, 26 grams of carbs, 12 grams of fat, 87 milligrams of cholesterol and 595 milligrams of sodium.
While red meat usually gets a bad rap, a small January 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that lean beef, if paired with a heart-healthy diet with low levels of saturated fat, can have beneficial effects on your cholesterol levels as well as other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.