Pumpkin Beef Stew in a Slow Cooker

In the annals of convenient but delicious meals, the slow-cooker or crock pot is a must-have. One of the things I make for myself and for parties is Pumpkin Beef Stew. I’ve been asked for the recipe before, and I’ve had to respond that there is no recipe, I just sort of wing it each time. But there are a few things that I do consistently every time—besides just the pumpkin and the beef—that presumably make for an interesting-tasting stew. So here’s my best shot at creating the recipe.

 

Fresh Ingredients:

1-2 lbs beef (stew meat)

3-5 stalks of celery, diced

1 red onion, diced

3-6 red potatoes, finely chopped (sometimes)

 

Canned Veggies:

1 can of sweet corn

1 can of cut green beans

1 can of diced tomatoes (sometimes)

1 can of green chilis (sometimes)

(Note: 1 can of rotel can replace tomatoes/chilis)

 

Broth, Puree, Paste:

1 large container of low-sodium beef broth

1 small container of low-sodium beef broth (sometimes)

1 medium can of pumpkin

1/4-1 small can of tomato paste (thicken stew to taste)

 

Spices:

Pepper

Oregano

Salt

Garlic (multiple options)

Cumin (very little)

Crushed Red Pepper (sometimes)

Dry Rub (for stew meat only)

 

Directions & Variations:

 

* For larger servings and groups, use closer to 2lbs of meat, add the small can of broth, and be generous with veggie selections.

 

  1. Cut up the fresh veggies. Finely chop the potatoes or else they’ll be slow to cook compared to the rest of ingredients. If you want to grill the potatoes with the beef first, then you can leave them in slightly bigger chunks. Onions and celery can also be added into the skillet or put directly into the slow cooker. I also sometimes add 1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic to skillet and/or cooker. Regular garlic seasoning can also be used.
  2. Cook the meat. Season moderately to generously with dry rub. I will also season the veggies with garlic when cooking them first.
  3. Add all ingredients into the slow cooker. The spices are listed roughly in order from most-to-least. I never measure out the spices, but I will say this: I use low-sodium broth so that I can be more generous with spice application, while also creating slight variations from one batch to the next. As with adding tomato paste for thickening, season to taste.
  4. Cook for 4 hours on low heat. Stir occasionally.

 

Note: These steps can also be done in a different order. If I’m procrastinating into the afternoon, I’ll start with the broth and canned veggies and starting up the slow cooker as soon as possible, while I cook the meat and cut up the rest of the veggies.