Nothing quite says comfort food like a delicious bowl of beef stew. Our RecipeTeacher Classic Beef Stew recipe is loaded with fresh beef, hearty potatoes and veggies, and that savory flavor you know and love so much. Plus, we keep things nice and easy so that anyone can experience the awesomeness of making this wonderful dish.
Does every beef stew recipe start off by talking about “grandma’s house”? I won’t do that. But only because we lived with Grandma so I never had to travel that far to enjoy beef stew. But truth be told, I think everyone associates beef stew with grandma’s house, or a country farmhouse, and all that classic Americana. And you know why? Because it’s one of the all-time classic comfort foods of America. I mean, it’s got chunks of beef, potatoes, gravy… what more could one possibly want?
Why I love this recipe?
Classic beef stew actually has some pretty simple basics and that’s what we get right down to. We take the basics and build some layers of flavor to make all the ingredients come together in a harmony of flavor you’ll love. We keep the ingredients simple, too. Well, we may have one secret ingredient – you’ll see.
Let’s start with a quick look at the main ingredient of beef stew – the beef! I usually purchase the pre-cut stew meat from the supermarket. It’s a great step saver. If you want to cut the meat yourself, reach for the beef chuck. It’s perfect for stews, pot roast and other similar recipes.
Our vegetables will be onions, celery and carrots. The potatoes and carrots will actually go into the stew about halfway through the cooking process so that they don’t get too soft.
The liquids for the recipe will use a foundation of beef broth. Choose your favorite brand. But don’t worry if you don’t really know which one to get. We’ll be building plenty of flavors into this stew. Other liquids will include Worcestershire sauce, which is a magic ingredient for so many recipes. We’ll also be using some red wine vinegar which will also punch the flavors up and also add some acidity. We’ll also keep a cup or so of water on standby and we may need it during the cooking process if things get too thick.
The herbs, spices, and other ingredients include…
- Salt and pepper
- Minced garlic
- Tomato paste
- Bay leaves
- Anchovy paste!
Wait a minute… anchovy paste!? What are you talking about, Jason?! Believe it or not, anchovy paste is an ingredient that’s been used in stews for a long time. You don’t taste the anchovies. But rather, it’s an ingredient that really adds to the umami, which is the savoryness of the dish. We’ll be building that savory umami flavor when we saute the veggies and deglaze the pot, when we saute the tomato paste, and when we add the anchovy paste.
We’ll have to do some chopping, so make sure you have a good sharp knife. If the beef needs to be cut, go ahead and cut it into cubes of about 1-inch in size – ya know, average bite-sized chunks.
Chop the onions into half-inch pieces, dice the celery into half-inch slices, and cut the carrots into half-inch rounds or half-moons if they’re large.
The beef will then get a dusting in the flour with salt and pepper. This will air in the browning process, and also help thicken the stew.
We start by searing the flour coated beef in a large pot or Dutch oven. I really like using a Dutch oven for this recipe. The heavy bottom really helps to good and hot and evenly distribute the heat so that we get a nice sear on the beef.
For best results when browning the beef, do it in two batches. If we put it all in at once, we risk steaming the meat and will not get the desired browning.
After searing the meat, we add the onions and celery and saute for a few minutes, before adding the garlic and tomato paste for about one minute. Yes, we saute the tomato paste. Sautéing tomato paste before adding it to beef stew enhances the stew’s flavor through caramelization and concentration of the tomato paste’s natural sugars and flavors.
Now we’re ready to deglaze the pot. This involves adding red wine vinegar and 1 cup of beef broth, then using a wooden spoon to scrape off the bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. These bits, known as “fond,” are crucial for the flavor profile.
Next, we return the beef to the pot and add the remaining 3 cups of beef broth, along with the Worcestershire source, herbs, and the anchovy paste.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer, covered for 1 hour.
After 1 hour add the potatoes and carrots. We want the liquid to just barely be covering the ingredients. Add water in half cup increments as necessary to reach the desired level. Put the cover back on and simmer for another hour.
Remove from heat and add the peas. The heat from the stew will heat the peas through in a minute or so. Remove and discard the bay leaves then let the stew sit for about 10 minutes. It will thicken more during this time.
Your classic beef stew is now ready to enjoy. Ladle into bowls and garnish with some fresh chopped parsley. Beef stew is excellent when accompanied by a nice piece of crusty bread as well.
Storage and Reheating
Storing Your Beef Stew
Cool it down: First, let your beef stew cool to room temperature, but don’t leave it out for more than two hours.
Refrigerate or freeze: Transfer the cooled stew into airtight containers. If you plan to eat it within the next 3-4 days, pop it in the refrigerator. For longer storage, the freezer is your friend. Frozen beef stew can last up to 3 months. Remember to leave some space in the container for the stew to expand as it freezes.
Reheating Your Beef Stew
From the fridge: When you’re ready for round two, reheat refrigerated stew in a pot over medium heat. Stir occasionally to ensure it heats evenly. If the stew seems too thick, add a little water or broth to reach your desired consistency.
From the freezer: For frozen stew, it’s best to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, reheat it on the stove as you would with refrigerated stew. If you’re in a hurry, you can reheat it directly from frozen in the microwave.
Microwave option: If you’re reheating a single serving, the microwave is super convenient. Place your stew in a microwave-safe bowl, cover it with a lid or microwave-safe wrap, and heat it on high for 2-3 minutes. Stir halfway through to ensure even heating.
You might also like…
Instant Pot Beef Stew: Use your favorite countertop pressure cooker to make a delicious beef stew with our easy recipe.
Instant Pot Pot Roast: Another classic made in an Instant Pot, this pot roast is super easy and SO comforting!Print