Few things smell better on a cold winter day than a big bubbling pot of beef stew simmering away on the stove. Beef stew is one of the easiest recipes you can make and this beef stew recipe calls for some of the least expensive cuts so it is nutritious, delicious, and affordable.
The trick to making a delicious stew is to taste it often while cooking. The herbs, vegetables, and meat will come together with the spices, resulting in that classic beef stew flavor you are craving.
What Are the Steps to Making a Stew?
A classic beef stew recipe calls for simple ingredients and the dish is made in just one pot. This makes it easy to make and even easier to clean up. Before making the stew, ensure you have the right equipment. The main thing you need is a large dutch oven, stock pot, crock pot, or slow cooker that has a tight-fitting lid.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients
You will need about a pound or so of beef to make a good pot of stew. Your options here are wide open, but beef chuck roast, cross rib roast, shank, or stew meat. You can also make a stew using venison, rabbit, or other wild game with this easy beef stew recipe.
For vegetables, the classic recipe calls for potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic. Celery is a popular addition. Some people also like to add frozen peas or pearl onions when making a beef stew.
Herbs are the key to a flavorful beef stew. Try to find the best quality, fresh herbs you can. Fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, and bay leaf are common and make a great French-style stew.
You will also need some stock. Most recipes call for chicken stock. Beef broth is a great way to punch up the flavor. Even better is bone broth for an added nutritional boost and some of the best beef stew flavor. In a pinch, bouillon will work but pay attention to how salty your beef stew is as you cook because bouillon is salty. You'll also add Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste.
Step 2: Prepping and Searing the Beef
Start out with the cut of beef on a cutting board. Remove as much fat and connective tissue as possible. Cut the beef into chunks about one inch in size. Smaller is better but too small will cause the meat to break down into nothing.
Place the beef chunks in a suitable bowl and sprinkle it with flour, garlic powder, Bearded Butcher Blend Seasoning Original, and pepper. Toss the beef and add more flour until all of the pieces of meat are fully covered. Heat a large pot or a Dutch oven on the stove and add the meat. You may need to add a splash of broth or oil if the meat is sticking. Turn the chunks so that the beef is browned on all sides. Once the beef cubes are browned, remove them from the pot and set them aside to rest. Browning is key to getting tender beef stew meat.
All those browned bits in the pan are flavor. With the pan on the burner, add a tablespoon of extra beef broth and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape them loose. Pour the broth and bits over the beef.
Step 3: Cooking the Vegetables and Make the Base
Add a small amount of olive oil to the pot and get it hot. Dice the onions and add to the hot oil. Cook onion until it becomes translucent and has a great smell.
Slice the celery into 1/2-inch pieces and cook with the onions until they just begin to get soft. Add the thyme, rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, and tomato paste.
Cook the mixture over medium heat stirring occasionally until the tomato paste is hot and the mixture is fragrant. Add the browned beef and drippings to the mixture and stir to coat.
Step 4: Create a Stew
Add beef broth or stock to the pot slowly and stir gently. Increase heat to medium-high heat and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Once the stew comes to a simmer, slightly reduce the heat and cover. Taste your stew and make sure the spices and herbs are adequate. Add more seasoning as needed.
Continue to cook the stew for about an hour and a half to two hours. Don't remove the lid unless absolutely necessary. The stew will be better if you keep the heat and steam inside the pot and opening the lid will increase the reduction effect that you don't want at this point. This is why a tight-fitting lid is best.
Step 5: Finishing the Perfect Beef Stew
Now that the stew has cooked, it should have a good flavor and aroma. It is time to finish the stew. Cut the potatoes into bite-size chunks about three-quarters of an inch or larger, slice the carrots into 1/4 inch rounds, and chop the celery into 1/2 inch pieces.
Add the vegetables and the Worcestershire sauce to the stew and stir. Simmer uncovered for about an hour or until the stock has reduced and the potatoes are tender. Remove the bay leaves. Serve hot with crusty bread rolls and butter.
How to Thicken Beef Stew
There are two aspects of this recipe that give the stew the perfect thickness. The first thing is the flour mixture from dredging the seared beef cubes and the browned bits that are left over from browsing combined with the beef fat. This makes a type of lazy roux that is the base of many French recipes. As the potatoes cook, the starches release and act as an additional thickener. It isn't necessary to add cornstarch or another thickener to this beef stew recipe.
Easy Homemade Beef Stew Recipe
- 1 lb Beef chuck roast, pot roast, round roast, shank, or other red meat
- 4-5 cups beef broth, chicken broth, or bone broth
- 3 medium carrots, sliced in rounds
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4-5 cloves garlic, pressed
- 2-4 whole bay leaves
- 2 TBSP Worchestershire sauce
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- Sprig of thyme
- Sprig of rosemary
- 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
- Bearded Butcher Blend Seasoning Original and pepper to taste
Our favorite thing to use for making stew is a large dutch oven. An enamel-coated cast Dutch oven is one of the more useful pots on the stovetop and the heavy construction is ideal for long and slow cooking time. Any large stock pot will also work, the heavier the better. To make this recipe in a slow cooker, simply brown the beef in a pan, then use a splash of red wine to cook the vegetables, then add it all into the slow cooker. It takes eight hours on low, and half as long on high. You may need to use a cornstarch and water mixture to thicken the slow cooker stew.
Common Questions About Making Beef Stew
You have questions, we have answers. Most importantly, trust your senses and yourself. You can make a delicious and hearty beef stew with our excellent recipe your whole family will love.
Can you freeze beef stew?
You sure can. One of our favorite tricks is to put leftover beef stew in large zip-top storage bags, lay them on a cookie sheet, and put them in the freezer. Once they freeze, the soups can be organized like files. Don't forget to write down what type of stew it is and the date the stew was frozen.
Do you cook the meat before making beef stew?
You should always cook the meat before making a stew. The simmering process is too slow to properly cook all of the meat and it won't get the tenderness you want from simply simmering in liquid. The dredging process also helps to create a natural thickener that adds so much flavor.
What ingredients are often used in stew?
Common ingredients include red meat, carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, peas, and a variety of fresh herbs.
How do you cook beef stew so it's tender?
The trick to tender beef stew meat is to brown the meat beforehand. The process helps to lock in juiciness so that when the meat goes into the liquid, the moisture inside is already trapped. You don't want to rush a stew, just like you wouldn't rush a pork roast on the smoker. It takes time for all the tough connective tissues to break down, so keep the simmer low and let it go.
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