1. season your meat with salt, dredge in flour
2. heat your pan, add your fat and brown the meat well in fat
3. remove meat to a bowl
4. if there's more than a few tablespoons of fat, remove and discard some of the excess
5. brown aromatic vegetables in the same pan
6. add flavorful liquids
7. return meat to pan
8. bring to a simmer
9. cover and cook until meat is tender
It's really important to season your meat and your food, in general, with kosher or sea salt-even if your recipe doesn't say so. It brings out the flavor. You want to make sure your pan is hot enough that you hear a sizzle when you put the meat in but you don't want the fat to burn and smoke. Speaking of fat, I use olive oil or coconut oil almost exclusively. Add the meat to your pan piece by piece, leaving some room in between pieces. If you crowd the pan, it will not brown well.
Aromatic vegetables almost always includes something from the onion family. It could also refer to leeks or even shallots. This is a good opportunity to work on your knife skills. You want the onion pieces to be about the same size. I prefer them to be about 1/2 inch dice, not bigger because few people like to eat big chunks of onion. Use the onion, even if you don't like them. They help build flavor in your stew. Get them a little brown, then turn down the heat a little and let them continue to cook until they're somewhat soft and golden.
Deglaze your pan with your flavorful liquids. If using alcohol, add that first and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan while the alcohol burns off. Liquids could be wine, beer, fruit juice, stock (broth). I usually use a combination of wine or beer and chicken stock.
At this point, you can add the meat back to the pan, or you can dump the whole thing into your slow cooker. It's done when the meat can be cut with a fork. When it's done, if your sauce is too liquidy, you can strain it into a pot and boil it down until it reduces a bit and thickens. Honestly, this works best if you are using a really good homemade stock. Your other option is to heat about 2 tablespoons of butter or oil in a pan with 2 -3 tablespoons flour and whisk to form a little paste. Slowly add your cooking liquid, whisking all the while to make sure there aren't any lumps and the flour mix is all incorporated. Then, stop whisking, bring to a boil. Once it's reached the boil, turn the heat down about until the liquid thickens then add it back to the stew.
Here's the ingredients for the stew pictured. Follow the steps above.
2 pounds beef stew meat (chuck)
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bottle ale
1-2 cups chicken stock