New electric cookers make the most of beef stew

Slow-Braised Beef Stew with Mushrooms

Even a food writer has to eat crow now and then. Take me and electric slow-cookers, for instance: When they were introduced several decades ago, my scoffing knew no limits.

Recently, however, crockpots have in some important ways been reinvented. They’re generally wider, so foods that used to be smashed by their own weight aren’t.

I gave cookers another chance and discovered some delicious possibilities. If you take two more steps – transfer the tender but rather dull-looking meat to a hot oven, then boil the juices it has cooked in – the meat browns quickly, and the sauce concentrates and takes on complex flavor.

Reunite the parts, and the final dish exhibits all the benefits of traditional slow-braising but has taken much less attention overall.

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