There are so many Beef Stew Recipes out there, how do you know which one to try? It’s according to the taste you are looking for. There are Southern, Irish, Italian, All-American, classic, old-fashioned, and many others. I love cooking beef stew in the winter, it’s one of those comfort meals, that warms the body.
Let me share my first cooking experience with beef stew.
I carefully prepped everything just as my cookbook had explained, then put the stew on to cook and within the hour the aroma that filled the air smelled heavenly. I was so excited to try it, especially with my made from scratch buttermilk biscuits. After taking my first bite of the meat, I was sorely disappointed. It was so tough, you could have used it as a hammer. I nailed, no pun intended, the flavoring and spices of the broth and the veggies in the stew, they were delicious, but not the meat.
Over the years, I have learned a lot about cooking beef stew. Hopefully by shedding a little light on how to make the beef tender, this one tip will help you not have meat so tough you can’t chew it. You can decide on the recipe you would like to try, however if you get this one thing wrong, then any recipe may be a flop.
I normally use a boneless chuck roast that has a good bit of marbling or find one already cut into beef stew pieces, but make sure it has the marbling, if it’s too lean, it will not make a good stew. No matter the meat you use, whether it’s a more expensive cut or a cheap one, this first step in cooking can make or break the final tenderness.
I have found that searing the meat first in a little vegetable oil on very low heat helps to caramelize the proteins in the meat and seals in moisture, which helps the meat be more tender.
Easy to Make Beef Stew Ingredients
Even though it says easy, it still takes about an hour of prep work. You may want to read the entire article for all of the tips and variations before you start with your preparations as, I give tips on cooking stove top, in the oven, and the crock pot.
3 lbs boneless chuck roast with plenty marbling in the meat, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tbsp Vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups beef broth
1 cup red wine
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (I cheat sometimes and use the already minced)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
6-8 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-2 inches (can use less if you’re not a carrot fan)
4 large yellow potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks ¼ to ½ inch or the smaller boiling ones cut in half
2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
1-2 cups sauteed mushrooms (according to how many you like, to me the more the merrier)
This recipe is the good ole standard recipe that is satisfying and filling. You can choose to cook stove top or in the oven. If you choose to cook in the oven, preheat 325 degrees and make sure your rack is in the middle of the oven.
Rinse Your Meat
I’m funny like this, but I always rinse my meat. There’s no telling who’s handled it and it’s just gross thinking of using unrinsed meat. Once rinsed, pat dry to get all of the moisture off, then salt and pepper. Divide meat into 3 batches. You will sear it in 3 batches, because if you add all of the meat at one time, you’ll have a mess on your hands.
Start with a heavy cooking pan or dutch oven you can place on the range top and bake with in the oven. Place on range top and heat 1 tsp (more if needed) of vegetable oil over medium heat, after hot, add first batch of meat using tongs placing meat one piece at a time, meaning don’t dump them all in at once. Do not cook on high. I like to cook over medium low to medium heat. Turn with tongs to cook consistently on all sides and don’t crowd the pan, you want to sear them well. This will take 6-8 minutes per batch. Once seared, remove this first batch with the tongs and repeat this process for the other 2 batches, adding the tsp or more vegetable oil and allowing it to heat up before adding the meat.
Set all meat to the side. Add onions to pan and sauté for about 5 minutes – use a wooden slotted spoon, reduce heat to medium low and add flour, stirring frequently cooking for around 2 minutes, then add garlic cook for another minute. Add wine while stirring the bottom to scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. (If you cook on to high of a heat during this step, you can ruin your stew) If you choose to us the balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce, add it now and simmer for around 5 minutes.
Next add beef broth, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and beef.
If cooking stovetop, bring to a gentle boil (simmer) and cook on very low temperature for 1 1/2hour.
In the oven, bake at 325 for 2 hours. (My preferred method)
Either way after the time has passed add carrots and potatoes and bake or boil for another hour or until all is tender. If you wanted to add the sautéed mushrooms, I would do so the last 15-20 minutes of baking or boiling. Sample and if you need more salt, pepper or other seasons add at this time to suit your taste.
Many ingredients are the same in most beef stew recipes, some recipes may call for additional spices or different vinegars and can add a different taste and dimension to the meal. I’ve added more carrots and less potatoes, as I love cooked carrots way more than potatoes. I’ve even used rice instead of potatoes, as strange as that may sound, t’s pretty good.
You may also choose, once the initial preparations are finished, to put it in a crock pot and cook on a low temperature overnight, adding the carrots and potatoes the following morning and cooking on high for another couple hours until they are done.
Going back to the meat, this can make or break the meal. Pick out a good piece of meat, cut the pieces as evenly as possible, and when searing the meat, make sure the heat is not on high. Sides that are good to serve with your stew are green beans, biscuits, cornbread or any of your favorite breads. Can prepare the day before and reheat, it’s even better the second day. Ask your kidos to help and make it a fun day in the kitchen.