This Beef Stew may be made in the Crock-Pot or on the stove top in a large Dutch oven, but for the best results, be sure your Crock-Pot doesn't boil; it should simmer lightly. Boiling will make the beef stringy and dry, will ruin the flavor of the broth and make the vegetables mushy - the results will be like stew from a can. Some Crock-Pots have probes which will allow you to set the desired temperature.
This stew tastes even better the following day after the flavors have a chance to blend in the refrigerator!
Sprinkle the beef cubes lightly with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and flour for extra flavor during browning.
When using a Crock-Pot for beef stew, for extra flavor, brown the floured beef cubes in olive oil before transferring them to the Crock-Pot (brown the salt pork along with the beef, if using). Brown onions and add garlic towards the end of the browning but don't allow it to take on too much color. In a Crock-pot, add all the vegetables at the beginning; set the Crock-Pot to 170-190°F and leave to cook from 5-8 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.
If using a Dutch oven, add the vegetables during the last 35 minutes of cooking and simmer until tender. Add a few tablespoons of flour at the same time to thicken the gravy, if desired. The gravy may also be thickened by stirring a a tablespoon or so of cornstarch into cold water before adding to the stew. Be sure to allow ample time for the thickener to cook before serving time to avoid a raw flour taste.
Extra vegetables can be added if you have them on hand. Turnips, corn, sweet potatoes, fresh peas and green beans are all wonderful additions. A pinch of thyme and basil and bay leaf can be added, too.