Wait for it, wait for it. Did you feel it, that cooler breeze that (periodically) shows up in October? While it may not be time to break out the long johns and woolen scarves quite yet here in Texas, it certainly is the season to begin making nourishing soups, stews and other homey recipes in the slow cooker. There’s not much else that satisfies a house filled with hearty eaters than a big bowl full of wholesome ingredients and spices that have been simmering for hour upon hour. But who wants to be the one standing in the kitchen all day? Not me.
So, in honor of the autumn season and thanks to the no-fail, hands-off friendliness of a slow cooker appliance, our bowls and appetites are filled to the brim with my recipe for Chipotle Beef, Butternut & Pumpkin Stew. This easy slow cooker recipe is made with simple ingredients that are quintessentially fall — pumpkin, butternut squash and maple syrup. Fire-roasted tomatoes and chipotle chile power add a deep and smoky vibe.
Of course, no stew would be complete without beef and the good news is that you don’t have to use ground beef to keep this family-friendly recipe economical. Less expensive (and “tougher”) cuts of beef like chuck roast, round roast and rump roast respond well in a Crock Pot. The low, slow cooking method breaks down connective tissues, turning beef from tough and chewy to deliciously fork tender. If you don’t see “stew” beef in the meat case, just ask the butcher to break down a roast for you — he will happily do so!
One “extra” step I take when prepping beef for the slow cooker is to brown it in a skillet. While this does dirty up an extra dish and take a few extra minutes, it’s so worth the effort. This step allows beef to develop a rich and caramelized outer crust that sings with the flavors of the “bloomed” spices. A level of flavor this fantastic can’t be duplicated by just dumping the meat completely raw into the slow cooker -although, you CAN do this if you are completely time-crunched (it will still turn out fine).
Hope you enjoy my Chipotle Beef, Butternut & Pumpkin Stew recipe; it’s long been a fall favorite with my family and friends. Make ahead for an easy weeknight meal that is ready right when you walk in the door or prep a big batch for a Halloween gathering or football tailgate party.