Slow Cooker Beef with Red Wine Sauce

by Rachel on April 7, 2011

Slow Cooker Beef with Red Wine Sauce

How do I love my slow cooker?  Let me count the ways.  First, I love that I don’t have to use any added oil or fat for most recipes.  To make a soup or stew on the stovetop I always use olive oil or butter.  I don’t use a lot, and it certainly adds to the flavor, but going without it in the slow cooker has little effect on the overall taste and many of my recipes end up being entirely fat free.  Second, I love that after the 20 minutes it takes me to pull things together and plop them in my pretty black beast my dinner is done, and I mean DONE – no additional steps, no tending, no muss, no fuss, no worry.  Third, if I happen to be at home for all or part of the cooking cycle the whole house smells cozy and reassuring.  Finally, for me the hour before dinner is usually a whirlwind.  I’m helping with homework, cajoling recalcitrant offspring, answering phone calls from people with heavy accents trying to refinance my house or re-carpet my family room, and simultaneously pulling together a hot meal.  With the slow cooker the whole prep thing is out the window – all I have to do is watch the digital clock tic tock until the cycle is done.  The only downside of a slow cooker is that it doesn’t allow any evaporation.  For recipes like this one it means that the broth will be quite thin at the end of the cooking time.  You can either live with a thin sauce, or use the technique I describe at the end of the recipe.  Either way will be fine.

Slow Cooker Beef in Red Wine Sauce (8 servings)

  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned well, coarsely chopped, white parts only
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, whole
  • 3 stalks fresh thyme
  • 3 stalks fresh rosemary
  • 4 large carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 10-oz sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • One 28-oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 4-6 lbs Chuck Roast (my slow cooker will hold six pounds of meat and I LOVE leftovers – especially pot roast – so I always go for more meat)
  • 2 lbs fingerling potatoes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)

Place everything except the meat, the potatoes and the cornstarch in the slow cooker.  Stir until blended.  Add the meat making sure that it is well covered.  Turn your slow cooker on low for 8 hours.  Two hours before the cycle finishes add the fingerling potatoes.  If you aren’t going to be at home during the cooking cycle just skip the potatoes.  Or if you can’t remember to add anything mid-cycle, skip the potatoes.  Or, if you forgot to buy them, well – you get the idea.

When the cooking cycle is done remove the herb stalks and toss them (not AT anyone, especially me).  You’ll also want to skim off the fat.  I use a big flat spoon and press it down just slightly into the broth, skimming off the fat until there isn’t any left.  After the herb tossing and fat skimming you have two options.  The easy route is to serve the meat/veggies over noodles or rice as is.  If you want a richer/thicker sauce take the ever so slightly harder route.  Leave the slow cooker on warm.  Using a ladle or a one-cup measure, scoop out most of the broth, leaving the meat and veggies behind.  Place the broth in a medium pot, bring it to a boil and boil until the liquid has reduced by half.  This will take 20 minutes.  Once it is reduced place the 2 tablespoons of corn starch in a small bowl and add ¼ cup water.  Stir until blended.  Add the corn starch/water mixture to the broth and allow to boil for 1 minute.  Take the now reduced and thickened sauce and pour it back over the meat and veggies in your slow cooker.  Serve dinner.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Blaine April 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm

That is a lovely slow cooker beef recipe. I like the colors and the fact that it’s not just another adaptation of Julia’s recipe! I also like the choice of the fingerlings instead of regular wedged potatoes. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I am going to have to make this one!

Rachel April 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Dear Richard:
I hope you make the recipe, and let me know how you like it once you’ve made it. Thanks for the kind words. Despite the fact that this recipe deviates from Julia’s, I must admit – I have a total soft spot in my heart for her. We used to see her grocery shopping in her later years in Santa Barbara and our hearts always skipped a beat.
Best to you,

stephen May 28, 2013 at 11:45 am

hi i am trying to find the ingredients for this meal and i cannot find crimini mushrooms and also a can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes and red pepper flakes please can you help me with where i can get these items that i desire.

number: 02086780266

thank you


stephen malone

Rachel May 28, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Hi Stephen:

Crimini mushrooms are the same as small brown mushrooms. Any small brown mushroom from your grocery store will work. Most major grocery store chains carry fire roasted tomatoes in the canned tomato section. Muir Glen makes them, as do a number of other major brands. You can substitute canned tomatoes if you cannot find fire roasted ones. Red pepper flakes are dried and are in the spice section of major grocery store chains. Just ask your grocer for help. I bet all three items are at your neighborhood market.

Good luck.


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