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Beef and Wine Stew
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Serves: 6 / Preparation time: 25 minutes / Total time: 7 to 9 hours on slow cooker low setting

1 pound bacon, cut into pieces

3 pounds boneless beef roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup flour, lightly seasoned with salt and black pepper

1 cup sliced shallots

2 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

8 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, wiped clean, cut in half if large

2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced

1 1/2 cups full-bodied red wine or 12 ounces stout beer

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Cooked noodles or rice or garlic mashed potatoes, optional for serving

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until just crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon pieces, leaving the drippings in the skillet and keep heated over medium heat. Reserve the bacon pieces for another use. Place the beef cubes in a large bowl and sprinkle with the seasoned flour. Toss to coat the beef cubes lightly with the flour.

Working in batches, brown the beef cubes on all sides in the bacon drippings. Remove to the slow cooker. In the same skillet, saute the shallots, celery, carrots, mushrooms and garlic until just lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker. Add the wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper and stir. Cover and cook for 7 to 9 hours on the low setting (or 4 hours on the high setting).

The meat should be falling-apart tender. About 30 minutes before serving, if the sauce needs thickening, stir in the cornstarch mixture. Cover and continue cooking until thickened. Remove the bay leaf and serve the stew with some sauce, over cooked noodles, cooked rice or mashed potatoes.

494 calories (40 percent from fat ), 22 grams fat (7 grams sat. fat ), 10 grams carbohydrates, 53 grams protein, 325 mg sodium, 167 mg cholesterol, 1 grams fiber .

From Jonathan John, Monroe.

Tested by Susan M. Selasky in the Free Press Test Kitchen.

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