Slow Cooker Beef & Pancetta Stew with Cavolo Nero

Feeding a new family 

paleo slow cooker beef stew

Slow Cooker Beef & Pancetta Stew with Cavolo Nero

A few weeks ago, amidst cold January snow storms we welcomed to the world my first gorgeous little niece.  A week later armed with some cute babygrows and a cuddly elephant I rather excitedly trekked off to see her for another cwtch (a Welsh cuddle).  Since I have absolutely no parental skills to offer, I thought that the best thing I could do for my big Sis & hubbie was to make use of my cooking skills and provide them with a freshly cooked hearty & nourishing meal – a homemade ready meal for two in a tupperware box.

The idea for this stew started with a combination of needing to use up some cavolo nero and the beef I had in the freezer from a recent farmers market haul.  The cavolo nero – a dark green leafy is rich in Iron, as is the beef – so a great nutritional suggestion for a new mother.  I’m inspired now to do some more nutritional research on foods for a new Mum.

I adapted this recipe to be cooked in my slow cooker instead of stove topped.  I choose to brown off the meat and sauté the veg first to develop the flavour a little more.  Instead of using red wine as in the original recipe I used homemade beef stock.  The beef stock is chocka full of vitamins and minerals and tastes awesome.  I also lowered the volume of liquid in the recipe as cooking in the slow-cooker means less liquid is required.  

I absolutely love the idea of tossing the blanched cavolo nero in garlic at the last minute – it adds a great strong garlicky edge to the dish – somewhat different to the garlicky hue from the stewed veg.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Olive Oil
  • 1kg diced stewing beef (I used chuck)
  • Seasoning
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 stick of celery, diced
  • 100g of pancetta, cubed (I bought mine already cubed)
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 fresh bay leaves (remember to tear slightly before adding to dish to release some flavour)
  • Handful of fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 4 tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
  • 300mls hot beef stock
  • 1 bunch of cavolo nero
  • Extra-virgin olive oil and an extra garlic clove, minced


  • Heat the oil in a large pan, and brown the meat in batches until it takes on some colour.  Remove and place in the slow cooker.
  • Sauté the onion, carrots, celery & pancetta in the same pan (don’t wash out) until they soften slightly.  Then add the whole garlic, bay leaves, rosemary & tomatoes.  Cook out for a few mins.
  • Pour the veg into the slow cooker and add the hot stock.  Give it a good stir and cook on medium for 6 hours (or low for longer, high for less time).
  • When you’re just about ready to serve prepare the cavolo nero.
  • Blanch the cavolo nero for 5 minutes, then toss through 2 tablespoons of some olive oil and 2 cloves of minced garlic.  Stir through the stew and serve up in bowls.

If you are preparing this dish with intended left-overs as I was, it is fine to add in the cavolo nero as above, then portion up into tupperware for quick ‘ready meal’ serving ease.   Alternatively you could opt to store up in tupperware, freeze and then add fresh cavolo nero when served but it isn’t vital – it still tastes awesome!   This is the type of dish that definitely tastes better the next day.


2 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Beef & Pancetta Stew with Cavolo Nero

  1. Barry

    I ate said stew and it was bloody marvellous. I thought something cooked in the slow cooker would be stodgy but I was wrong, it was so fresh tasting and light, not to mention delicious. Loved it and looking forward to having it again. B

  2. Rhian

    Hello, new mum mentioned in the blog here! It was absolutely delicious and much appreciated. Look forward to more in the Cucina Ceri new mum range. R


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