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Export 21 ingredients for grocery delivery
For the beef In a large zip-top bag, combine flour, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning. Add beef and shake until well coated.
Browning the meat: (feel free to skip to step 5 and add all the ingredients to the slow cooker instead)
In a large skillet on medium high heat, add cooking oil and brown the meat on all sides. Meat will not be cooked through. (Be sure not to crowd the skillet - you may have to work in batches). Transfer browned meat into a large 6 quart slow cooker.
Put the uncleaned skillet back on the stove and add onions and garlic. Saute for a minute or two then add the balsamic vinegar and tomato paste until just hot enough to deglaze the pan, about 1 minute. Pour into slow cooker over the beef.
Add the potatoes, sweet potato, carrots, celery, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, beef broth, (star anise if using) and stir to combine. If there is not enough liquid to cover the vegetables, add water - only as much as needed.
Cook on low for 5 to 7 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours (stir about half way through), until potatoes are tender and meat is cooked through. (Times may vary depending on how hot your slow cooker runs - check and cook longer or shorter if necessary)
Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if necessary (discard star anise if used). Serve hot with fresh parsley.
Optional: To thicken stew: Make a slurry by whisking 2 tablespoons of flour (all purpose, cornstarch, gluten free flour, 2 tsps arrowroot powder or 1-2 tsps xanthan gum) with 3 tablespoons of cool water. 20-30 minutes before serving, stir the slurry into the slow cooker, set to HIGH. Stew should thicken within 20-30 minutes.If it does not thicken, your slow cooker may not be hot enough so you will have to transfer to a large pot and heat on the stove if you want to thicken the stew. However, the stew will thicken up on its own overnight in the fridge even without the cornstarch slurry - the slurry is just a solution for immediate results.