January 14, 2010



Classic Beef Stew is a true one pot meal that is hearty, satisfying and will warm you up on the coldest day.   When it comes to comfort foods Beef Stew is a favorite because it has something for everyone, tender flavorful beef, sweet carrots and rib sticking potatoes that have stewed in a delicious gravy.  The familiar smell of stewing beef and vegetables brings everyone to the kitchen wondering when dinner will be ready.  I like to cut the Meat and Veg into large chunks because when you cook the Stew long and slow it will not cook down to mushy unidentifiable mystery bits.  A Potato should look like a Potato in your Stew, not baby food.   Make a big pot of Beef Stew and save some for left overs because we all know it is even better the next day when you are Cooking The Amazing.

Here is the recipe.

2 1/2 lbs. Beef Roast (Chuck or Butt is best)(Pick a roast with fat marbled in it.)
3/4  c  All Purpose Flour
1  t  Sea Salt, fine grain
1  t  Pepper, black fresh ground
4 T  Olive Oil
4 c   Hot Water
1/2 c  Red Wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon)
3 T  Tomato Paste
4 T  Beef Base (The best is "Better Than Bouillon" Brand see below)
1 T  Worcestershire Sauce
2   Onions, Medium size
5  Potatoes, Yukon Gold, Large size (or 10 small)
3  Carrots, large
4  Cloves Garlic
1 t  Oregano, dried
2 t Thyme, dried
2  Bay Leaves
1 t  Black Pepper, black fresh ground
1 t  Sea Salt, fine grain
Optional:  8 oz. Fresh White Mushrooms, halved

Total Prep and Cooking time:  Approx 4 hours

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2.  Use a heavy bottomed pot, like an enameled cast iron pot (like Le Creuset brand), to cook this in.  A thin flimsy pot will cause burning on the bottom and will ruin the flavor of  your stew.

3.  Cube the Roast into large 2 inch square chunks, trimming the fat off as you go from the outside.  Reserve the fat pieces to render later.

4.  Add the Olive Oil to your heavy bottomed pot and place over medium heat on the stove top and allow to heat up.

5.  Place the fat pieces you saved into the hot oil and begin to brown, stirring with a spoon for about 5 minutes.  Then remove all the fat pieces and reserve all the rendered fat in the pot.  Rendering this fat will bring maximum flavor to your stew.   Allow the rendered fat to stay heated in pot.

6.  Place all the Beef chunks in a large zip lock bag with Flour, 1 t Salt and 1 t Black Pepper.  Seal the bag tight then shake until well coated.

7.  Keep the heat of the fat in the pot at medium and dump 1/2 the flour coated Beef and any left over Flour into the pot.  Brown the Beef in 2 batches so that it does not steam but gets a good brown crust.

8.  Stir immediately with a large spoon to coat Beef with fat then allow to brown.  The Beef and flour will form a pasty coating.  This is important:  The Beef needs to brown well on all sides to develop full flavor potential.  Skipping this step will give you a less flavorful stew.  Let the meat brown before turning to the next side.  You are not fully cooking the meat.  This will take about 10-15 minutes to brown well.  Remove the beef and set aside when browned leaving any fat and cooked bits stuck to the bottom pot.  (While Beef is browning you can prep the vegetables.) Add more Olive Oil if needed and brown the second batch of Beef.  Then set aside with the first batch. 

9.  Peel the Potatoes and cut into quarters.  Peel Carrots and cut into large 2 inch chunks and peel and cut the onions into 8 piece chunks.  Peel garlic and chop into small pieces.  Set all aside.  By cutting in large chunks you will avoid "baby food" stew once cooked.

10. In a measuring cup, measure 1 cup of hot water from the tap.

11. Add the Tomato Paste, Beef Base, and Worcestershire Sauce to the 1 c of hot water and stir until dissolved.  See TIP below for more about Beef Base.  The pot should have a brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  This is a lot of flavor that needs released by deglazing.

12. Pour this mixture into the empty pot and turn the heat up to high on the stove.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape up all the cooked bits on the bottom of the pan.  There is a lot of flavor in the cooked bits.  Scrape well while it starts to boil until the bottom is clean.  Add the 1/2 c Red Wine and stir.  Then add 3 cups of hot water and bring to the boil.

13. Once all the water is boiling, add the beef back into the pot and all the chopped vegetables, Oregano, Thyme, Bay Leaves, Sea Salt and Pepper.  Stir well.

14. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to Medium and allow to simmer for 5 minutes covered.  Add optional Mushrooms cut in half now if using.

15. After 5 minutes remove from the stove and place in the center of the oven and cook 3 hours at 300 degrees with the lid on tight.  Don't peek.

16. After 3 hours total cooking in oven remove from the oven.  Very gently stir and taste for Salt and Pepper.  Season as needed and stir.  Allow fat to come to surface and skim off.

17. Allow the Stew to sit with the lid off for 10 minutes before serving.  Remove the Bay Leaf before serving.  This is a choking hazard.

18. Serve with crusty bread and a simple green salad.

TIP:  "Better Than Bouillon" brand beef base is made with beef and vegetables in a concentrated form that is a million times better than boxed beef broth or those little salty squares of beef bouillon which taste more like salt than beef.  It is found in the grocery where the little square beef bouillon boxes are in an 8 oz jar.  It is available in organic also.

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Britt Andrews said...

We ate the whole pot! This was easy and really tasted so good.

H.F. said...

This was the best stew I ever made or ate. It was easy too. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The depth of flavor was fantastic. Best stew I've ever had.