Slow Cooker Beef Stew

This comfort food staple is a total crowd-pleaser and economical to make. Our version makes good use of the slow cooker; prep this dish the night before, refrigerate and turn on the slow cooker the next morning for an awesome dinner!

PREP TIME: 40 minutes
COOK TIME: 8 hours 15 minutes

2 1/2 pounds chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and diced into 1-1/2" cubes
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 medium celery stalks, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups low-sodium beef broth, divided
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds yellow potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups frozen peas (optional)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working with half of the beef at a time, dab both sides dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Sear in skillet until browned, turning once halfway through, about 4 - 5 minutes total. Transfer beef to slow cooker and repeat the previous steps with the remaining beef. Leave excess oil in skillet.

Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to skillet and reduce heat to medium Sauté onions for three minutes, add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add tomato paste and cook for one more minute, until tomato paste becomes fragrant.

Pour 1 cup beef broth into the skillet along with worcestershire, soy sauce and thyme. Cook for two minutes, being sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Remove mixture from heat.

Add potatoes, carrots, celery and bay leaves to slow cooker. Add broth/tomato paste mixture to slow cooker, along with the remaining 2 cups broth. Season with salt and pepper, put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours, until vegetables and beef are tender.

To finish the stew, whisk together cornstarch and about 2 tablespoons cold water until the mixture is smooth. Gradually stir into stew and let cook for another 20 minutes, until stew begins to thicken. Remove bay leaves, add peas (if using) and garnish with parsley. Serve warm.