As the weather gets cooler, I start craving for a warm, hearty bowl of beef stew. I don’t have a lot of seasonal dishes that I make religoously every year. But when it comes to beef stew, my friends, I make it every fall and winter, multiple times, for years. This recipe has been tweaked and perfected over the years, and is one of my all-time favorites.
I like to get started with cutting up vegetables and other non-meat items first. Cut up onions, potatoes carrots and celery. Crush up 5 cloves of garlic. Or more if you are a garlic lover. We love garlic around here. And then sit back and admire the pretty colors these vegetables and herbs bring. Yes, I did that. But you really don’t have to…
I stopped buying “stew meat” from the grocery store for stew a while back, but instead have been getting “beef chuck”. I find that I get better results, and have an idea what cut of meat I am actually using. Cut the meat into 2-inch cubes. Heat up oil in dutch oven, sprinkle salt and pepper all over meat, and brown meat in a dutch oven.
This is an important step as you are searing the meat on both sides and locking in the moisture. This prevents the meat from becoming dry after cooking for hours. Also, don’t over crowd the bottom of the dutch oven and meat should not overlap when searing. With 2 lbs of meat, I did this in three batches.
Next, bring on the onion and garlic! Cook for a few minutes until onion and garlic are slightly brown and you can smell the aroma of both. Then add 3 or 4 cups of water, 1 cup of red wine, bay leaf, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then cook on medium low heat for 90 minutes.
If you are using a regular pot for this, you might need less water. Dutch ovens retain heat a lot better than a pot and will boil the water down faster. All that said, if you are not familiar with your pot/dutch oven, start with 2-3 cups of water, check at the 45 minute mark to see how dry the pot is and add more if needed. You want the water to go down significantly but the beef to still be submerged in water at the 90 minute mark.
At this point, your home should be smelling like the sweet aroma of beef stock. Take out bay leaf and garlic (if you can find them. If not, don’t worry about it). And then, add in a can of whole tomatoes and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. So I used to make beef stew without tomatoes, and then I had it with tomatoes at a friend’s house, and boy, have I been missing out! See, I’m a tomato girl. Salsa, red pasta sauce, ketchup, bruschetta. Anything tomatoes – feed them to ME. How did I not think of adding tomatoes to this pot of stew before?
Anyway, after tomatoes are in, stir, squish it to cut it into half to get the juice out and then add potatoes, carrot and celery. At this point, the ingedients should be mostly submerged in the liquid (picture below). And then go sit and relax, read a book, watch tv, do laundry if you must, as this will boil for another hour or so.
After 60-90 minutes, the stew will be kind of soupy but less soupy than what you see in the picture above. Hmm, how’s that for an attempt to “accurately” describe the consistency… The truth is, I have done this in different appliances on different stoves (gas, electric), and it will look different for everyone. The good news is, you can adjust the consistency according to your liking. So thank God for thickening agents, like cornstarch….
For me, I do like my stew thick. I take about 1/2 cup of liquid out from the stew and mix it with 2 teaspoon of cornstarch (use more if needed), and then pour the liquid back into the stew. Keep in mind that if you have leftovers, the consistency gets thicker after microwaving to heat it up. I let it boil for another 10-15 minutes, and then wala! Beef stew is ready.
The beef will be infused with the beautiful flavors you created with the wine, herbs and vegetables, and will fall off easily with a fork and is melt-in-your-mouth tender. I tell you, this food blogging thing is making me constantly hungry.
I absolutely love this low-touch, one pot meal that you can make for a large party, or be selfish and don’t share and then have plenty of leftovers. Ha! They taste even better after sitting in the sauce overnight. Enjoy!
Beef slow cooked to perfection with potatoes and vegetable in a thick, rich, hearty wine-based broth
- 2 lbs beef chuck cubed
- 1/2 large onion
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 28 ounce canned whole tomatoes
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 3 medium red potatoes
- 2 stalks carrots
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
Cut up carrots, potatoes, onions and celery. Set aside
Cut up beef chuck into 2-inch cubes and season with salt and pepper
Heat dutch oven with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once oil is warm and bubbly, bring beef to dutch oven to sear. Turn beef to make sure all sides are seared well. Do this in batches so that beef do not overlap each other in pan when searing
Bring all seared beef back to the dutch oven. Add 3-4 cups of water, red wine, bay leaf, thyme, smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and bring to boil
After coming to a boil, bring dutch oven to medium low heat and simmer for 90 minutes. Check at the 45 minute mark on dryness. If liquid level looks very low, add 1/2 cup of water at a time
Add 1 can of whole tomatoes and sugar. Break tomatoes into halves and stir.
Add potatoes, carrots and celery. Bring dutch oven to boil and then take it to medium low heat and simmer for another 60 minutes.
Take 1/2 cup of just the liquid from the stew out and mix it with 2 tsp of cornflour. Stir to dissolve cornflour and then pour it back to the pot. Bring to boil and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste if desired
Serve and enjoy!