Oh my goodness. This is the best beef stew! John made it last week. You’ll want to make it soon. He’s not one to strictly follow a recipe. Instead he studies lots of recipes then creates his own by adding a little more of something, changing something, omitting something. This beef stew is one of his best. It’s hearty, flavorful and comforting. A keeper recipe for sure!
O Come All Ye Comfort Foods…
What makes a comfort food? For me, a comfort food nourishes body and soul, touching some special space inside, reminding me of childhood, home, winter days long ago, snow days, Sunday after church days, days I wrap tight and hold dear. Something about the perfect combination of food, flavor, family, makes me feel better. Comfort foods are reliable.
They aren’t low calorie. Hahaha. Life doesn’t work that way.
“On this cold, winter day, I’m really craving some tuna packed in water to make me all cozy inside,” said no one ever.
(Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against tuna.)
Momma made beef stew in the fall and winter. It stuck to our ribs when the weather was frightful and noses were runny. It was an inexpensive meal, too, one that called for not much meat but lots of potatoes and carrots. And, it was a good way to sometimes sneak in peas, which I didn’t much like.
After days and days of eating Thanksgiving leftovers, John’s beef stew hit the spot. Giving credit where credit is due, he did most of the work. I only peeled and sautéed the veggies and cut up the potatoes. And I took lots of pictures, of course, because I could tell right off, by the aroma and sizzle and very first taste, this beef stew would be the best beef stew evah!
Get to the recipe already…
The Best Beef Stew!
- 1.25 pounds beef stew meat well-marbled, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
- 3 teaspoons of salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 7 garlic cloves minced
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup Shiner Bock beer or other dark lager
- 1 cup dry red wine we used Chianti Classico
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 pounds russet potatoes peeled and cut into half inch chunks
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 5 large carrots peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I threw in a few parsnips because I had some leftover from Thanksgiving. But I don't think they added anything and will leave them out next time.)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
- Step 1: Let the meat come to room temperature. Pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt on the pieces. If you have a cast iron dutch oven, this is the time to use it! If not, a heavy duty, thick-walled pot will work, too. In dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil has warmed, add the beef in small batches (meat won't brown if it's crowded!), cover, and cook without stirring. When beef is browned on bottom (2-3 minutes until it self-loosens from the bottom of the pan), use tongs to turn and brown the other side. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter and brown the next batch of beef. (Our dutch oven accommodated two batches without crowding.)
- Step 2: Add garlic to the beef and saute 30 seconds. Add beef broth, water, beer, wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire Sauce, and bay leaves. (This is a good time to enjoy a sip of beer, too.) Stir. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook on low for one hour.
- Step 3: While the meat and broth simmers (and your stomach growls), melt butter in a large skillet and saute onions and carrots until golden brown, approximately 15-20 minutes. Set aside. Enjoy more beer if you like. A good chef doesn't serve what he hasn't tasted.
- Step 4: After the beef has simmered for a minimum of one hour, add the onion and carrot mixture. Add the uncooked potatoes, black pepper, and remaining two teaspoons of salt. Simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender and you think you can't wait another second to eat. About forty-five (long) minutes longer. Fish out the bay leaves before serving.
- Ladle into your favorite bowls. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with cornbread or rolls to sop up every single drop. Delish!
This year, why not surprise Santa with a cup of this amazingness instead of those regular chocolate chip cookies? Not that I’m trying to tell you what to do on Christmas Eve. But really, doesn’t he deserve it?
I’m ranking this dish right up there with John’s meatloaf, another marvelous comfort food.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
P.S. John got his Lodge Cast Iron dutch oven for Christmas a few years ago. It can be used on the fire pit or stovetop. If you’re in the market, we highly recommend it. (Not an ad.) Per the website, order by 12-13-17 for guaranteed Christmas deliver with free shipping over $99.