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Homemade Beef Stew

There’s something undeniably comforting about a bowl of homemade beef stew. Its rich flavors and tender meat chunks have a way of warming the heart and soul, making it a beloved dish in American kitchens.

This classic recipe brings together simple ingredients and traditional cooking methods to create a stew that’s not just a meal, but a heartwarming experience.

Beef stew, a dish steeped in history, has been a staple in American cuisine for generations. It’s a dish that tells a story of resourcefulness, bringing together whatever ingredients were on hand to create something nourishing and satisfying.

The beauty of beef stew lies in its simplicity and the harmony of its ingredients, each contributing to a rich, deep flavor that’s both rustic and refined.

Ingredients:

Creating the perfect beef stew starts with gathering quality ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Beef Chuck Roast: 2 lbs, cut into 2-inch chunks, with excess fat removed. This cut is ideal for stew as it becomes exceptionally tender when cooked slowly.
  • Seasonings: 1 tsp Kosher Salt and ½ tsp Coarsely Ground Black Pepper to enhance the natural flavors of the beef.
  • Flour: 2 tbsp, either Gluten-free All-Purpose or Whole Wheat for non-gluten, to coat the beef and thicken the stew.
  • Olive Oil: 2 tbsp, for browning the beef, adding a subtle richness.
  • Vegetables: ½ large Yellow Onion, chopped, 4 Garlic Cloves, minced, 1 large Carrot (or two small-medium), cut into 2-inch chunks, and 2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, diced into 2-inch pieces. These vegetables add sweetness, texture, and nutrition.
  • Liquids: 2 cups Beef Broth for the base of the stew, and ¼ cup Tomato Paste for depth of flavor.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: 1 tbsp, to add a tangy, umami kick.
  • Herbs: 1 Bay Leaf and 2 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves for garnish, infusing the stew with aromatic flavors.

Each ingredient in this stew plays a crucial role, coming together to create a symphony of flavors and textures.

The key is in the balance and quality of these components, ensuring each bite is as comforting as the last.

A Step-by-Step Cooking Guide:

  1. Preheat Your Oven: Begin by setting your oven to 325° F. This slow-cooking process is crucial for tenderizing the beef and melding the flavors together.
  2. Season and Flour the Beef: Take your beef chunks and season them generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Then, sprinkle the flour over the beef, tossing the chunks until they are evenly coated. This step not only seasons the meat but also helps in thickening the stew later.
  3. Brown the Beef: Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the beef in batches, browning them on all sides for about 3-4 minutes per batch. Remember, the goal here is not to cook the beef through, but to achieve a rich, golden crust that will add depth to your stew’s flavor. Once browned, transfer the beef to a plate and set it aside.
  4. Sauté the Vegetables: In the same Dutch oven, add the chopped onions, minced garlic, and carrot chunks. Cook them, stirring occasionally, for about 2-3 minutes or until they start to brown slightly. This process not only cooks the vegetables but also picks up the flavorful bits left by the beef.
  5. Combine and Simmer: Next, add the diced potatoes, beef broth, tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce to the pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot – these bits are packed with flavor. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  6. Return Beef to Pot and Oven-Cook: Add the browned beef back into the pot. Give everything a good stir to combine. Cover the Dutch oven with its lid and transfer it to your preheated oven.
  7. Slow Cook the Stew: Let the stew cook in the oven for about 2 to 2.5 hours. This slow cooking is key to ensuring that the beef becomes wonderfully tender and the flavors meld beautifully.
  8. Final Seasoning and Serving: After the cooking time, remove the stew from the oven and discard the bay leaf. Give the stew a taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Serve the stew warm, allowing each spoonful to comfort and satisfy.

Cooking Methods Variations:

While the oven method is traditional, this beef stew recipe is versatile enough to adapt to various cooking methods:

Stovetop Method: If you prefer to cook on the stovetop, simply follow the same steps but instead of transferring the pot to the oven, let the stew simmer over medium to low heat for about 60-90 minutes. Check occasionally and add more broth or water if needed.

Slow Cooker/Crockpot: For a hands-off approach, you can use a slow cooker. Brown the beef as instructed, then transfer all the ingredients to the slow cooker.

Cook on low for 9-10 hours or on high for 6-7 hours. This method is perfect for setting up in the morning and coming home to a ready meal.

Instant Pot: An Instant Pot can significantly reduce cooking time. Use the sauté function to brown the beef and sauté the vegetables, then add the remaining ingredients and cook on high pressure for about 35 minutes, followed by a natural release.

Each method has its own charm, whether it’s the traditional oven method, the convenience of a slow cooker, or the speed of an Instant Pot. Choose the one that best fits your schedule and enjoy a delicious, comforting stew.

Customization and Serving Suggestions:

Beef stew is a wonderfully versatile dish, allowing for various customizations to suit your taste and dietary preferences.

Consider adding other vegetables like mushrooms, peas, or green beans for added nutrition and flavor. If you prefer a thicker stew, you can mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with water and stir it into the stew during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

When it comes to serving, beef stew is hearty enough to stand on its own, but it can also be paired with several sides for a more complete meal. Some great options include:

Cauliflower Rice: A low-carb alternative that soaks up the stew’s flavors beautifully.

Quinoa or Brown Rice: These grains add a wholesome touch and are perfect for soaking up the rich sauce.

Cornbread: A classic pairing, the sweetness of cornbread complements the savory stew.

Mashed Potatoes: For an extra indulgent meal, serve the stew over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes.

Salads and Steamed Veggies: Lighten the meal with a fresh salad or some steamed greens on the side.

Nutrition:

This hearty beef stew not only offers comfort and flavor but also provides a range of nutritional benefits. Here’s a breakdown of its nutritional content per serving:

  • Calories: 383 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 14 g
  • Protein: 32 g
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Vitamin A: 2223 IU
  • Vitamin C: 12 mg
  • Calcium: 67 mg
  • Iron: 6 mg

This nutritional profile makes the beef stew not just a delicious meal but also a wholesome one, contributing to a balanced diet. Enjoy this stew knowing you’re nourishing your body with every spoonful!

Tips for Perfect Stew:

To ensure your beef stew turns out perfect every time, keep these tips in mind:

  • Browning the Beef: Don’t rush the browning process of the beef. This step is crucial for developing the stew’s deep, rich flavor.
  • Simmering: Allow the stew to simmer gently in the oven or on the stove. High heat can toughen the meat and vegetables.
  • Seasoning: Adjust the seasoning at the end of cooking. The flavors will develop and change throughout the cooking process.

Storing and Reheating:

Beef stew is excellent for meal prep as it stores and reheats well. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

When reheating, do so gently on the stove or in the microwave, adding a bit of water or broth if the stew has thickened too much.

Homemade beef stew is more than just a meal; it’s a comforting embrace in a bowl, perfect for chilly evenings or whenever you need a touch of home-cooked warmth. Its rich flavors and tender meat make it a favorite that stands the test of time.