3 tsp. minced fresh thyme, divided, plus additional for garnish (optional)
2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ripe but firm Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled, cored and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
Tip: We prefer using fresh pears, which dissolve into the sauce and make a natural thickener and sweetener.
Tip: Make this dish more filling – and go further - by serving over polenta, pappardelle pasta or rice.
Sprinkle beef with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Heat 2 tsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the beef and cook for about 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining oil and remaining beef.
Add onion, fennel and celery to skillet and cook for about 5 minutes or until soft, stirring often. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup broth and tomato paste and cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in 2 tsp. thyme, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper.
Place carrots and pears in bottom of 4- or 5-qt. slow cooker. Add onion mixture, then beef. Add bay leaf and pour in remaining broth. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours, or until vegetables and beef are tender.
Stir in vinegar and remaining 1 tsp. thyme. Remove and discard bay leaf. Spoon evenly into 6 bowls and sprinkle with additional thyme, if you like.
Per serving (generous 1 cup): 282 calories, 30 g protein, 10 g total fat (3 g sat., 0 g trans), 20 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 82 mg cholesterol, 698 mg sodium, 8 points