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Chef Dad's Crockpot Beef Stew

1 ½ lbs. Stew Meat (from your grocer's meat dept.) Cubed in ¾" to1" Pieces
¼ Cup All Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 ½ lbs. Red Russet Potatoes (cut into 3/4" cubes)
1 Brown Onion (diced)
1 ½ Cups Celery (diced)
1 Cup Carrot (diced)
1 Large or 2 Small Jalapeno (minced small)
2 Tbsp. Garlic (minced)
4 Tbsp. Stick Butter
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
1 pkg. (1.4 oz) Knorr's Brand ® French Onion Soup Recipe
2 Cups Hot Water

1)    Get your meat cubed and toss with 1 ½ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. black pepper.  Then add the flour and toss to combine and coat well.  Set aside.
2)    Combine your cubed potatoes, onion, celery, carrot, jalapeno & garlic in a large bowl, toss together and set aside.
3)    Combine your Knorr's soup mix with 2 cups of hot water.  Whisk together well and set aside also.  
4)    Get a large frying pan or Dutch oven over a medium high heat then melt your butter. When the butter is melted and bubbling, toss in your veggie/potato mixture along with 1 Tbsp. salt & 1 tsp. pepper.  Sauté and stir often for about 5-7 minutes then put ingredients in the crock pot and turn on to "Low" if you want the meal ready in 8 hours or on "High" for 4 hours.
5)    In the same pan over the medium high heat, add your olive oil then cook the meat until it's browned on all sides, about 4-5 minutes.  Now add the meat and soup mix into the crockpot.  Stir, cover and cook as described above.  The meat and potatoes can be stirred once or twice if you're around to do so, but not necessary.  Just before serving, taste the mixture to see if it needs any additional salt & pepper.  Make your adjustment if necessary then serve as is or over cooked rice or wide egg noodles.  

Cook's Notes: The key to crockpot beef stew is slow cooking the meat long enough to get it nice and tender.  But one other important step is finding the right store to buy your stew meat.  Look it over carefully.  Does it look like there's lots of gristle, fat or silver skin all over it?  Unfortunately, the cheaper the meat, the poorer the quality, unless it's coming from a trusted supplier on sale.  The flour that coats the meat is important, so don't forget that step.  The flour is what thickens up our juices and makes it become gravy.  If you like peas, add 1 cup of them when adding the cooked meat & soup mix to the pot.

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