For this homemade slow cooker beef stew, I was tasked with creating a recipe based on both as part of event from Cook the Books and Food 'n Flix. Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen hosted the event. Rereading The Hunger Games Trilogy for this cooking project, I realized how fixated Katniss Everdeen was on food. People who wonder where their next meal will come from – if it comes at all – usually are.
However, in the movie, The Hunger Games, Katniss wasn’t all that fixated on food. You never got the feeling that Katniss or any of the kids from the poorer districts were starving. They all looked too healthy!
Cooking The Hunger Games – Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Vegetables and Rice
When deciding on my easy slow cooker beef stew recipe for the Cook the Books/Food ‘n Flix event, I took notes on the various dishes and foods that are mentioned in the book. One dish that caught my eye was described as “hot grain smothered in beef stew” or just hot grain and stew.
So I decided to make an recipe for slow cooker beef stew based on Real Simple’s Slow Cooker Classic Beef Stew. I modified their easy slow cooker beef stew to make a recipe that was gluten free, contained more root vegetables and peas, and was served on brown rice.
An easy gluten free way to thicken up Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Vegetables and Rice
The original recipe for easy slow cooker beef stew called for dredging the beef chunks in all-purpose flour. To make it gluten free, I substituted a gluten free all-purpose flour. My two favorites are Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour and Bobs Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
While the gluten free flour thickens the homemade slow cooker beef stew, it does add a calories – fine if you're Katniss and need some fattening up.
However, if you’re watching your calorie intake, here’s a healthier, gluten free way to thicken the stew.
- Omit the flour, and season the beef with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. Brown the meat as directed. Follow the rest of the recipe.
- About 30 minutes before serving, mix 3 tablespoons corn or rice starch with 3 tablespoons of liquid from the slow cooker.
- Add the mixture to the stew and stir.
- Put the lid back on the crock pot and turn up the heat to the High setting.
- After 30 minutes, stir and serve stew over rice.
If you need to avoid corn products and can’t use corn starch, I recommend using rice starch in this easy slow cooker beef stew. I love using it as it works just as well as corn starch in thickening stews and soups. You can find it in Asian markets or purchase it online.
More of This Mama’s Tips for making Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew
For easy crock-pot cleanup, use slow cooker liners. They’re WONDERFUL. Now that I use them, I no longer have to soak my crock-pot overnight and scrub it using Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser and a scouring pad.
To save time when making this recipe for slow cooker beef stew, dice onions using a Vremi Food Chopper. I have a similar chopper (from Pampered Chef) and LOVE IT. Not only does it save time, but my eyes don’t water when chopping onions. The Vremi has amazing reviews on Amazon, too!
I used baby carrots since they’re already peeled and small enough for the simple slow cooker beef stew.
If you’re gluten free, make sure you choose a gluten free beef broth. I like Imagine Organic Beef Broth and Pacific Natural Foods Organic Low Sodium Beef Broth.
If you don’t drink wine, use more beef broth instead.
Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Vegetables and Rice
- 4 pounds bottom round, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1 pound baby potatoes, washed (not peeled)
- 1/2 pound baby carrots
- 4 parsnips, roughly diced
- 2 stalks celery, roughly diced
- 2 cups gluten free beef broth
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 16 ounce package frozen peas
- cooked brown rice (enough for 6 to 8 people)
- Coat the beef in the flour. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, adding more oil as necessary. Throw out any unused flour.
- Transfer browned beef to a large capacity (4 to 6 quart) slow cooker.
- Add the diced onions to the skillet. Cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and coat the onions. Transfer the onion and tomato mixture to the slow cooker.
- Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits. Pour the liquid into the slow cooker.
- Stir in the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, celery, beef broth, salt, thyme, and bay leaf.
- Cover and cook on low heat for 7 1/2 hours, or on high for 4 hours.
- About 15 minutes before serving, add the peas and cook until heated through.
- Serve on top of brown rice.
- Serving size: 1 bowl
Originally published on January 24, 2013. Updated with new pictures and information.