If you're looking for ideas for how to use juniper berries then this slow cooked juniper beef stew is exactly what you NEED! It's warming, comforting and so easy to make. Just dump everything in the slow cooker and let it do its work.
When I first made this stew it was because I had some juniper berries that I wanted to use. I'd been gifted them from Healthy Supplies but I had no idea how to use them.
I really wanted to use them in a stew but I was a bit unsure about what they would go well with. All I knew was that juniper was often used with game but I didn't know much else.
I had to do some research.
Juniper berries in Scandinavian Cooking
After a little research I was soon reading about Scandinavian and Central European stews using wild birds, deer and wild boar. These stews are often flavoured with juniper berries to give them a distinctive sharp flavour.
Well, I didn't have any pigeon or venison handy, so I decided beef would do. After all, beef is a much more widely available red meat and it is brilliant for slow cooking.
Time to get the Slow Cooker out!
Another good reason to make this juniper beef stew was that it gave me a chance to use my slow cooker again. I used it at least once a week last winter but this year I've only used it a couple of times.
Ingredients for this juniper beef stew
To make this juniper beef stew you will need: stewing steak, juniper berries, ground allspice berries, nutmeg, thyme, cloves, a bay leaf, carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms, garlic, tomato puree and beef stock.
Is it easy to make?
This winter stew is one of the simplest of recipes to make. That list of ingredients may sound pretty long but the method definitely hassle free. I just dump everything in the slow cooker and let it do ALL the work! It's as simple as that.
Do you need to brown the meat first?
No, I've discovered through using the slow cooker that although you can brown the meat and cook the vegetables a little bit first, it's not necessary. As far as I'm concerned this really defeats the whole purpose of slow cooking, which is to make things quicker, easier and produce less washing up.
Therefore I often just put everything in the slow cooker in the morning and then at dinner time it's ready. If there's too much liquid or it's too watery I simmer it or add some cornflour as a thickener. Because it's been slow cooked I always find the meat is incredibly tender and falls apart as you eat it. Delicious!
What kind of slow cooker do you need for this?
Any kind of slow cooker will be fine! When I first published this recipe I used a simple slow cooker with a ceramic bowl. These days I have a Crock Pot Express Multi-Cooker which has loads of different functions including simmer, saute and pressure cook. It's definitely worth having.
Can you adapt this juniper beef stew recipe?
One way of adapting this juniper recipe would be to use game instead of beef. I think venison would work beautifully.
If you don't have a slow cooker and want to cook this conventionally then of course you can. I would cook the onions and garlic gently for about 10 minutes. Then add the beef and brown it. Add the rest of the ingredients and then either put in the oven at 150C for 2.5 hours or cook over a low heat on the hob.
What are the best side dishes to go with this beef stew?
I love roast potatoes with a stew. In fact, I love roast potatoes with anything! However, jacket potatoes and mashed potato also go beautifully as does some crusty bread to mop up all the sauce.
I also like to serve some green vegetables on the side or some red cabbage.
Storing and reheating
This stew is great for batch cooking. If you cook a larger batch or you just don't eat all of it straightaway then you can store the leftovers in the fridge for up to three days. Just reheat gently on the hob or in the microwave.
You can also freeze the leftovers for up to three months. Defrost thoroughly and then reheat on the stove or mircowave.
More Slow Cooker Recipes
I use my slow cooker a lot throughout the year but we do have a few favourite recipes. It's great for this slow cooker beef bourguignon as well as this slow cooker chicken tagine. I regularly cook spare ribs in it too and it's even great for puddings like this gooseberry steamed sponge.
Slow Cooked Juniper Beef Stew
- 300 g stewing steak
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice berries
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 carrots thinly sliced
- 1 celery stick finely diced
- 5 mushrooms sliced
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 200 ml beef stock
- Chop the steak into bite-sized pieces and put in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Lightly crush the juniper berries and sprinkle on top of the beef, along with the other herbs, spices and garlic.
- Then put all the vegetables on top.
- Dissolve the tomato puree in a little hot water and pour on top, then add the beef stock. The beef should be covered by the liquid but it doesn't mater if the vegetables are above the liquid.
- Slow cook for about 8-10 hours.
- If the stew is too watery, transfer to the oven top and simmer to reduce the liquid. You can also thicken it by dissolving some cornflour in a little cold water and stirring into the stew.