Cooked with bacon, chorizo and herbs, this slow cooker Mediterranean beef stew is as meaty as it is tasty. Perfect for chilly days and nights.
Cold days and nights? Has it turned cold in the tropics? Yes, there is a typhoon. Karen, the name is, the 12th typhoon to hit the country this year. Karen is expected to make landfall tomorrow morning but it’s been gray and rainy all day today already. In fact, by 5.00 p.m., it was pitch black.
So, I cooked two stews at the same time. The Korean beef stew and this Mediterranean beef stew with a huge batch of beef short ribs that I carefully chose at the grocery. Short ribs are my absolute favorite for making beef stews. The meat has enough fat to prevent it from turning dry and the bones flavor the sauce tremendously during the slow cooking.
Although the stew is cooked in the slow cooker, the first three steps have to done on the stovetop.
First, for better flavor and texture, the short ribs were browned in oil (see Do we really need to brown meat before braising or stewing?). Second, the bacon and chorizo were fried until they rendered fat. And, third, the aromatics were sauteed in the rendered fat.
Then, the short ribs, bacon, chorizo and aromatics were dumped into the slow cooker. Diced tomatoes and seasonings were added and the slow cooker was turned on. Two hours before the cooking time was up, the vegetables were stirred in and the seasonings were adjusted. Depending on whether you set the slow cooker to HIGH or LOW or use a combination, the cooking time can be anywhere from six to eight hours.
The ingredients list and cooking procedure are rather long but that doesn’t mean that this is a difficult recipe. The cooking is more than a little involved, yes, but that’s how to cook a delicious stew. And this Mediterranean beef stew is so good that it can be served at a dinner party. Cook it a day or two ahead and chill. It tastes better after sitting in the fridge overnight. Then, reheat gently on the stove top.
Slow Cooker Mediterranean Beef Stew
- 1 kilogram beef short ribs
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup butter
- 100 grams belly bacon chopped
- 100 grams Spanish chorizo (the ones flavored with lots of paprika are ideal), cut into thin rings
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 bell pepper finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 12 to 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 potatoes peeled and cut into wedges
- 1 carrot peeled and cut into wedges
- whole black olives as much as you like
- snipped parsley to garnish
Cut the short ribs between the bones into two-inch cubes. Place in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and toss to coat each piece; shake off the excess.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan. Brown the meat well. Scoop out and drain.
At this point, you have the option of frying the potato and carrot wedges in the flavorful oil. It's optional but frying them before they are added to the stew gives them better texture. You don't need to cook them all the way through. Just fry at a high temperature until the edges are lightly browned. Then, set the aside until it's time for them to go into the slow cooker.
Heat another frying pan. Dump the bacon and chorizo and cook until browned and a generous amount of fat has been rendered. Scoop out the browned bacon and chorizo.
Reheat the rendered fat and saute the onion, garlic, bell pepper, thyme and oregano.
Line the slow cooker with the sauteed aromatics and the fat in which they were cooked. Place the browned beef short ribs on top followed by the bacon and chorizo. Pour in the diced tomatoes. Add a teaspoonful of salt and about a quarter teaspoon of pepper. Throw in the bay leaf.
Turn on the slow cooker. I like to start at HIGH for two hours then switch to LOW for another four hours or so.
After the Mediterranean beef stew has been cooking for four hours, taste the sauce. Add more salt and pepper, as needed.
If you did not fry them, add the potato and carrot wedges and olives to the meat, and stir lightly. If you had fried the potato and carrot wedges, add them during the last hour of cooking.
When the stew is done, taste the sauce one last time and adjust the seasonings again, if needed.
Sprinkle the stew with parsley before serving hot with rice or crusty bread.