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Add potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and thyme to the slow cooker.
Cut beef into 1 ½-inch pieces, trimming off any excess fat or connective tissue. Combine with salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, once hot add the beef in a single layer.
Cook until golden brown on one side, 2 minutes. Flip the pieces and cook the other side for 2 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
Add balsamic vinegar to the pan with the beef drippings. Turn heat to medium-high, deglaze the pan using a whisk to scrape any browned bits and incorporate into the liquid.
Reduce the sauce, stirring frequently, until 2 to 3 tablespoons of liquid remain, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pan liquid to the slow cooker.
Add beef stock and soy sauce to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on "High" setting for 4 hours or "Low" setting for 8 hours.
Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Add cornstarch slurry to the slow cooker, stir to combine.
Cook on "High" setting for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the sauce becomes slightly thickened.
Taste stew liquid and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
Serve garnished with parsley.