I've got some stew meat that I want to cook up in the crock pot, but I want a recipe that doesn't use any tomatoes (diced or paste) or red wine.
Is there something else I can use as a base? Or do I even need a "base"? I'll be perfectly happy if it's less soupy and just yummy, tender beef.
I usually use a small amount of bone broth + garlic for stew meat (like less than a cup) and it works pretty well.
If you get a big piece of fatty beef on the bone, you do not need liquid at all. I make this all the time in the crockpot: a three-pound chunk of roast, on a bed of chopped carrots, onion, and garlic (you can omit onion and garlic if avoiding FODMAPS). Cook on low for 8 hours. There is always some delicious broth in the pot when you're done, and you can "pull" the meat apart with a fork easily. It's seriously delicious. Haven't tried it with pork yet, but I've found you can also cook an entire chicken in the crockpot like this, on a bed of veggies, with no liquid, and it's very moist. Oxtail cooked in this way is FABULOUS.
I use neither tomatoes nor wine in beef stew. I simply put whichever vegetables I'm using that day in the bottom of a crock pot and place the meat on top. If I'm feeling a bit ambitious, I brown it first. If I'm in a hurry, I toss it in as is. Salt, pepper, parsley, and sometimes a bit of thyme are all I add. If you're following a recipe that includes them, you can simply leave them out and still have a great tasting stew. The steps listed above by Violet9 wold be perfect. I, too, highly recommend oxtails as a stew option.
I've mentioned this before, but I'm not a fan of crockpots because everything comes out tasting the same. That said, here's what I would do:
Make a mirepoix--equal amounts of carrot, celery, onion chopped up fairly fine. Sautee this in fat of choice in a cast iron pot or stainless steel oven-safe pot with a cover. Remove when soft and onions are translucent. Sear meat on every side. Remove. Daglaze pot with broth, add everything back in, add enough broth to cover about halfway up the contents, add herbs and spices. I would then cover and put in a 350 degree oven for at least three hours.
However, you could do everything on the stove, and then transfer to the crock pot.
Then, when you take everything out, remove the meat, and if the liquid is very liquidy, boil down to about 1/4-1/2 volume, add salt to taste and a chunk of butter.
I've never used tomatoes for beef stew (if there's tomatoes in it, it tastes like vegetable soup, to me). My mom always dredged her beef in flour, I never did because I was lazy. however, I was in a mood one day, so I used almond meal flour. AMAZING!
I had stew beef, I put spices and salt into the almond flour, and coated the beef with it. Seared it in coconut oil. Sauteed the onions, garlic, and celery (mirepoix is too sweet for me, for this recipe), then mushrooms (maybe add a little butter for the mushrooms) and if I have some, some red or yellow or orange pepper. I used box stock, but if you have beef stock, that's an nice flavor; if not, water. Simmer the beef; or let sit in crockpot. With everything scraped out of the frying pan. Add veggies available, I like carrots, green beans, turnips and/or rutabagas can be a nice substitute for potatoes. You could even toss sweet potato in, but I wouldn't do it in the crockpot, sweet potatoes tend to dissolve.
I have even made a roux from the almond meal flour and it thickens the stew just lovely.