A rich and hearty beef stew recipe that’s perfectly seasoned and full of potatoes and carrots. This winter classic is sure to fill you up!
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I’m going to put this out there – I really enjoy winter. I love how the world slows down just a little bit, I love cross country skiing, and I love curling up under a blanket – cat in lap – with a good book or some Netflix. But, what I really love is this – all the hearty and warming soups and stews. This is the best time of year for a big bowl of spicy curry or some aromatic pho or a rustic classic like beef stew. This is literally one of my husband’s favorite dishes. He told me that he has dreamt about about this beef stew on more than one occasion and he stands looking over my shoulder every time I make it. He’s right there as the garlic, onions, and red wine are added to the pan. Then he kind of turns into the kid on his way to the amusement park – ‘Is it done yet? Is it done yet?’ I really can’t blame him, though. There’s nothing quite like a pot of slowly simmered meat and vegetables.
Beef stew is definitely a down to earth classic but there are steps you can take to elevate it. This will allow you to develop layers of flavor and give you that deep, rich broth that’s so essential to a dish like this. As with any soup or stew, the first step is to gather your ingredients along with a knife and a chopping board. Garlic and onions form the base of this one. Start off by mincing 6 cloves of garlic and 1 small white onion. Next up are the potatoes and carrots. Slice 4-5 large carrots and cube 4-5 red potatoes. You can use any type of potato you like, but I find that reds have the best flavor for dishes like this. You should end up with roughly 3 cups each of carrots and potatoes.
Now for the meat. Stews are great because you don’t need a huge, expensive chunk of beef. In fact, cheaper cuts of beef like chuck or bottom round are recommended. They are tougher cuts of meat that are full of connective tissue and this is exactly what you want. That connective tissue will soften as it cooks and result in a rich and flavorful broth. My favorite cut for beef stew is good old chuck steak. You don’t need a huge steak – 1 lb. or so will do. Start off by cutting the steak into cubes (I like to use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables so I don’t cross-contaminate). The next step is to dredge the meat in flour – to ‘dredge’ something simply means to coat it in flour. Pour 1/2 cup of flour or so onto the meat and completely coat it.
Now the cooking process begins. Heat a Dutch oven (cast iron works great) or a heavy-bottomed soup pan to medium and add 1 1/2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil. Make sure the oil is fully heated (the meat should sizzle once added to the pan). I find it works best to cook the meat in two batches – you will not overcrowd the pan this way and each piece will get an even sear. Add half of the meat to the pan and cook for a minute or so on each side. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper to the meat as it cooks. Once each side is evenly seared, remove the meat and set aside. The whole process is repeated at this point. Heat another 1 1/2 Tbsp. of oil, add the meat and sear for a minute or so on each side with another pinch of salt and pepper, and remove.
Once all the meat is removed, add another tsp. or so of vegetable oil. Add the garlic and onions to the pan and saute for 4-5 minutes. Make sure to scrape up all the brown bits that were left on the bottom of the pan by the meat and mix them in with the garlic and onions. You want all those brown bits. Brown bits = lots of flavor. The garlic and onions should be nice and caramelized after 4-5 minutes.
Add 1/3 cup red wine to the garlic and onions. Saute this mixture for 2-3 minutes or until the wine reduces. Yes, it looks a little funky, but I promise you those funky-looking bits are packed full of flavor.
Now, add the sliced carrots to the pan along with another pinch of salt and pepper. Saute the carrots for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. After 5 minutes, add 3 cups of beef broth and all of the seared meat to the pan. Cover and cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. After 15 minutes, add 1 more cup of beef broth and all of the chopped potatoes. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes on medium heat. You want the stew to boil lightly as it cooks – somewhere between a slow simmer and a hard boil.
Almost done – I promise! These last steps will complete the process. Remove the cover from the pot and add 3 Tbsp. of tomato paste, 1 1/2 tsp. ground oregano, 1 1/2 tsp. of ground thyme, and another pinch of salt and pepper (adjust to taste). The tomato paste works to thicken the stew up and deepens the flavor a bit. Cook for another 2 minutes or so.
Your whole household should now be crazed with hunger from the wonderful smells coming out of your kitchen. This is winter comfort food 101. Humble ingredients brought to a whole other level with a few simple cooking techniques. Give it a try – just promise that you’ll report back to me if your spouse starts having dreams about this beef stew.
A rich and hearty beef stew recipe that's perfectly seasoned and full of potatoes and carrots. This winter classic is sure to fill you up!
- Mince garlic and onions. Slice carrots and cube potatoes.
- Cut the meat into cubes and dredge in flour.
- Heat Dutch oven or heavy-bottom soup pan to medium and add 1 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Once heated, add half of the cubed meat and cook for a minute or so on each side. Add salt and pepper. Remove and repeat this process with second batch of meat. Set seared meat aside.
- Add another tsp. or so of oil to pan and then add garlic and onions. Saute for 4-5 minutes, scraping up brown bits as it cooks.
- Add red wine to pan and saute for 2-3 minutes or until wine reduces.
- Add carrots to pan along with pinch of salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add 3 cups of beef broth and seared meat to the pan. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Add 1 more cup beef broth and potatoes to the pan. Cover again and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Remove cover and add tomato paste, ground oregano and thyme, and more salt and pepper (adjust to taste). Stir together and cook for another 2 minutes or until the stew has thickened.
You can add more broth if you like the stew to have a thinner consistency.
Salt and pepper levels can be adjusted to taste.
Serving suggestion: Heat a loaf of crusty bread and serve with stew.