Beef and Butternut Stew with Pumpkin, Sage and Cherries (Slow Cooker)

  Another soup?!?  What kind of tyrant am I, right?
  Actually I haven’t subjected G to 2 soups in one week, I just had this recipe sitting on the back burner and forgot to write it up.  That said, it’s really a perfect fall-into-winter stew with lots of hearty ingredients to fill you up and warm your belly.

1-2 lbs beef, cut into chunks
4 c butternut squash, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 c dried cherries
1 Tbsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 c beef stock
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 c pureed pumpkin
salt to taste
1 Tbsp butter
  According to the original recipe, you ought to start by saute-ing your onions with your sage and thyme and then browning your beef.
  You guys know how I roll.  We’re not doing that.  Throw everything except the squash and the cherries in the crockpot, turn it to low and forget about it for 6 hours.  Don’t actually forget it.  Maybe set a timer (I did).  When your timer goes off after 6 hours, toss the squash and cherries in and let it cook for another hour or two.  Stir in your pumpkin just before you serve it.
  With an all-told cook time of up to 8 hours, and that not counting prep time, I had to be dealing with food waaaaay too early in the morning for my taste with this one, but it wound up being worth it.  It took me a long time, but I’ve finally recognized that chicken+slow cooker=BLERGH, but beef+slow cooker=heaven!
  Aside from the beef doing it’s usual, ohmigosh tender deliciousness thing, I was really impressed with the dried cherries in this.  They plump back up as they sit in all the broth and juices and just make for a really fabulous addition.  I’m honestly tempted to start throwing random dried fruit in all my crock pot meals after this…
  Of course, G was not impressed.  Soup!  Warblegarble!!!
  Fooey on him.
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