Rich and hearty beef stew is a classic comfort food full of tender beef, potatoes, and veggies made to warm the soul. Perfect for those sweater weather days.
It's November, and I have been very neglectful.
Forgive me. But I wasn't able to cook or take photos since our house was in storage in Georgia for months. In fact, at this time I'm using old photo of my beef stew recipe because we still haven't gone back up to get the storage. It's incredibly expensive, let me tell you! We won't be doing any spontaneous inter-state moving again any time soon!
I digress, onto the food!
Like I said, it's November. It's the official month of comfy-food, especially in the good ole U.S. here because of Thanksgiving.
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So in honor of comfort food, I have for you: the classic, soul-comforting, oh so warming on a cold November evening, beef stew. Not just any beef stew, oh no. The beef stew of my childhood. The beef stew I've been making since I got married. It's in my back pocket whenever there's a chill in the air. It's rich in flavor and hearty ingredients, with a thick gravy-like stew that deserves a nice crusty piece of bread to sop it up. If that doesn't scream "comfort" I don't know what does. Okay, maybe a good plate of Mac and Cheese, but...
I made beef stew for our Christmas tree day last year, where we chopped down our tree and had a couple of friends come decorate that evening, and not one full belly was disappointed. After a full day of going down to the farm and chopping trees, it was the perfect dish to fill our bellies. Even my then-two-year-old Grey loved it, and he's not a big meat eater.
This is tested, tried and true, and it has never let me down no matter if I made it in the oven, slow cooker, or stove-top. It's incredibly easy, satisfying, and can absolutely be made in the slow cooker if you aren't able to stay in the house and eyeball a pot on the flame or in the oven for about 3 hours.
When you are choosing meat, I suggest getting a chuck roast with a lot of meat and very little fat hanging off the edges. Don't buy the 'stew meat' unless you are going to a very reputable butcher who you know isn't just using scrap pieces of any ole thing and trying to make a profit. Stew meat is more often than not scraps that are from different cuts and will give inconsistent results.
So why chuck? Because it's affordable and tough! A stew needs a tough piece of meat to be braised, or cooked in liquid, for a long period of time so it becomes fall-apart-tender. Think a pot roast (the ones that fall apart to pieces) or pork shoulder that is made into pulled pork.
Chuck is a well-worked part of the animal, from the shoulder, and is filled with lots of tough connective tissue and marbled fat. When it's braised, the connective tissue and fat sort of melt away, leaving meat that is now tender and juicy after a long cooking time. With other cuts of meat that don't have good marbling in the meat and no connective tissue, you will have some overcooked stew and it's terrible.
We don't want terrible, we want tender!
Besides the meat, and really, that's just a preference, stew is incredibly easy. It's one of my favorite things to do and teach as a basic recipe because you don't need an actual recipe! You toss in some veggies with your meat, a little flour and fat, and broth with a little bit of herbs and seasonings and let it simmer for a few hours-- and boom! You have delicious stew with melt-in-your-mouth tender meat and veg for dinner with little effort.
Make sure to buy yourself a loaf of crusty bread to eat with it, you won't be disappointed.
Here are some tools I used for this recipe:
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- 2 lbs beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cubed into 1 inch pieces
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 5 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 3 lbs yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces
- 1 large onion, medium dice
- 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups beef broth or stock
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup frozen peas
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Heat vegetable oil in a large stock or soup pot over medium high heat.
- In a medium sized bowl or shallow dish, toss together 2 tbsp flour and the tsp of salt and pepper. Throw in cubed chuck and toss to coat lightly.
- In batches (either ⅓-1/2 of the meat per batch) sear the beef in the pot. Keep the beef in one layer without them touching. Sear for about 1-1.5 minutes per side, making sure there is a brown crust on the sides. Remove each batch into a large bowl and continue until all the meat is seared. Set aside.
- Add the butter into the pot, lower the temperature to medium, and let melt. Throw carrots, potatoes, and onion into the pot and cook over medium heat for 7 minutes, until the onions are translucent and start to brown. Add your garlic and stir in for a minute, then stir in ¼ cup flour.
- Make sure the flour is coating the veggies well and there is enough fat to moisten the flour. There should be no dry flour in the pan. Add the oregano to the pan and stir it in with the vegetables and flour.
- Stir while letting the flour cook through for about one minute, then add in a splash of beef broth and stir well. Then add about a cup of broth and stir well once again. It should look kind of like a paste, that's fine. Add another cup of the broth and stir well. Add the rest of the broth, stir again. Then add the beef and their juices from the bowl into the pot to braise.
- Add water and bay leaves, raise temperature to medium high and let the pot come to a gentle boil. After it boils for about two minutes, lower temperature to medium low and cover with a lid. Let stew simmer for 2 hours then remove the lid.
- After 2.5 hours, add the frozen peas and stir in well. Let stew cook for 30 minutes until they are cooked through.
- At the 3 hour mark, check stew for seasoning and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and serve the beef stew while hot.
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Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.