"That's really, really good," my husband Ted declared as he inhaled his second helping of this beef and rutabaga stew. We're reaching the end of stew season, but this year's crazy New England weather has left snow on the ground where there should be daffodils, and stew on the stove where there should be fiddleheads and ramps and asparagus. No complaints in my house. Ted loves beef stew in all forms, at all times of year, and this version is so very different from the heavy stews I usually make for him. I cheated a bit, and used a bag of frozen, diced rutabaga; it was my first time trying this convenience food, and for a long-cooking dish like stew, it was great. You can swap fresh rutabaga, of course, or white turnips if you like those better. Warm spices, harissa, lemon, and a hit of fresh cilantro infuse this stew with an unusually bright flavor. Substitute gluten-free flour to make this easily gluten-free.
Slow cooker North African beef and rutabaga stew
From the pantry, you'll need: onion, garlic, ground cumin, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne pepper, harissa, honey, all-purpose unbleached (or gluten-free) flour, olive oil, lemon.
Serves 8, with couscous, rice or noodles.
1-1/2 lb stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 large onion, peeled and diced
3 carrots, cut into 1-/2 inch rounds
20-oz bag frozen diced rutabaga, or 2 large rutabagas, peeled and diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1-2 tsp harissa (use lesser amount for milder stew)
1-1/2 tsp honey, or more to taste
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup chopped dried apricots
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Dry the beef with a paper towel. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, and dredge the beef lightly. Shake off excess.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Brown the meat, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding, and transfer the browned meat to a 6- or 7-quart slow cooker. (Note: I use my 6-quart Ninja Cooking System slow cooker, which also has a stovetop setting, so I can brown the meat directly in that.)
Add all of the remaining ingredients except the cilantro, plus 3 cups of water.
Cook on LOW for 7 hours. Stir in cilantro.
Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed with salt, black pepper, lemon, or more honey.
Serve hot, over couscous, rice or noodles. Or, cool completely, and freeze in an airtight container.
More easy slow-cooker beef stews:
Slow cooker honey Sriracha beef stew, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooker Sindhi beef curry, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooked beef and green chile stew, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooker Southwestern beef stew with tomatoes, olives and chiles, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Slow cooker kimchi stew with beef, from My Korean Kitchen
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