Baby it’s cold outside! Cliche, I know, but still true! The polar vortex is racing south from the North Pole and bringing single digit daytime high temperatures, double digit below-zero nighttime lows, and several inches of snow this weekend. Ugh…I really hate winter. I’ve lived my whole life in the Midwest and still I’ve yet to learn to appreciate winter. I fully acknowledge how beautiful it can be, but honestly, it has taken me 50 years to even get to the point where I could say that! 😉 I hate the cold, the wind, the cold, the atrocious driving conditions, the cold, the cancelled plans because of bad weather, the cold, the fact that it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon, and the cold!
But – being of hearty Midwest stock, I’ve learned to cope with all the aforementioned hatefulness that is winter by avoiding going outside as much as possible, owning a car with heated seats (BEST INVENTION EVER) and a remote starter (2nd BEST INVENTION EVER) for when I do have to leave the house, and by cooking foods that warm us from the inside out. Nothing can make me appreciate a blizzardy weekend more than a bowl of steaming hot stew!
Today I’m sharing a recipe for Slow-Cooker Bison Stew! I love to use Bison whenever it’s available because health-wise it’s incredibly nutritious, and the flavor is similar to beef – only deeper and more intense! However, Bison is not always easy to come by, so please substitute beef if you can’t get Bison! I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Can we all take a minute to thank whoever invented the slow-cooker?!? I feel like a slow cooker is a busy mom’s best friend in the kitchen! I use a Ninja Cooking System which allows me to switch between slow cooking, stovetop, oven, and steaming. I love it because it allows me to brown the meat for the stew using the stovetop setting, then switch it to slow-cooking once all the other ingredients are added to the pot! Optionally, the meat can be browned on a conventional stovetop, then transferred to the slow cooker to continue cooking. The stew could also be slow baked in the oven in a Dutch oven after browning the meat on the stovetop. And finally, if you prefer not to brown the meat…that works too! Homemade stew is one of the easiest and most forgiving recipes there is!
For this pot of stew I used a Bison roast that I cubed into bite sized pieces. I tossed the meat in flour, salt and pepper, and seared it in a little olive oil. Truthfully, that’s the hardest part – and remember – you can totally skip that part if you’re short on time! Once the meat is browned, simply throw everything else in the pot, cover it, turn the heat setting to low, and walk away! 8 – 10 hours later you will be rewarded with a thick, aromatic, flavorful, piping hot stew! And best of all, your family will love you for making it for them!
I tend to keep the vegetables simple – and cut into large pieces so they hold up to a full day of slow cooking. Potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, onions, and celery compliment the Bison perfectly. Seasonings are simple as well…salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, a bay leaf, and finally a bottle of beer! The alcohol cooks away, but the stew is left with a little something special that’ll have everyone guessing what your secret to perfect stew is! Bonus…the beer helps tenderize the meat if it’s a little tough!
Finally – pair the finished stew with some crusty bread, a slice of cornbread, or a handful of crackers if you prefer. I’m confident you’ll find this meal so hearty and satisfying that even serving it unaccompanied will have your family ooohing and aaahing and asking for seconds!
So the next time the polar vortex comes knocking on your door, chase the cold away and warm your family’s hearts and bellies with a big bowl full of this satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs, Bison Stew! It’s not even officially winter yet, and I’m already counting down the days until spring – which happens to be 97 more days…ya know…just in case you’re counting too!!!
- 2 lbs. Bison Roast, cut into bite sized pieces ~ or beef stew meat
- 4 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced into thick rounds
- 1 lb. potatoes, cut into large chunks
- 1 large onion, cut into large pieces
- 4 stalks celery, chopped into 1" pieces
- 2 lbs. baby bella mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
- 4 cups beef stock
- 1 12 oz bottle beer
- In a bowl or large zip-top storage bag, toss bison with flour and 1 tsp each salt and pepper.
- Heat olive oil to medium high, add flour coated meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned on all sides.
- Transfer to slow-cooker.
- Set slow-cooker temperature to low, add vegetables, tomato sauce, and seasonings.
- Pour in beer and beef stock. Stir well.
- Cover and cook 8 to 10 hours. Stir and check for seasoning - adding more salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve piping hot.
- This recipe makes 8 very generous servings.
- Like many stews, the flavor intensifies as the leftovers chill in the refrigerator.
- When reheating add a little more stock or water to slightly thin the broth.