Beef stew is a staple menu item at my house for these cold winter months when we need hot comfort food that will stick to the ribs. Sometimes I make this in a stock pot on the stove, and often will make it in the crockpot–I’ll note the differences in the recipe as I go:
Hearty Beef Stew:
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 pounds cubed stew beef
- Optional: 1/2 c. flour for coating the beef
- 1 TBSP Herbes de Provence
- Or: 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Optional: 1 c. red wine
- 6 medium potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes
- 4 whole carrots, cut in wheels
- Or: 1/2 bag of baby carrots, chopped in half
- 2 – 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
In a large stock pot, sautée the onions in 2 TBSP olive oil until translucent. Add the spices and stir in. Add beef cubes. (If you want to thicken the stew a bit more, dredge the beef in flour before adding to pot.) Stir and allow the beef to brown for 5 minutes. Optional: Add 1 c. red wine and sautée for another 3-5 minutes. Add potatoes and carrots, then canned tomatoes; then add enough water to just cover the vegetables. Stir until mixed. Cover the pot with a lid, and allow to simmer on medium heat for 40 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are very tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with good crusty bread. Serves 6.
When I make this in the crock pot, I do one of two things: one, I dump everything (skipping the flour) in the crockpot, turn it on and forget about it until dinner time. Or 2)I sautée the onions and then the beef on the stove, then throw those into the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients. This makes a slightly more flavorful stew, but takes a few more minutes to do; and the dump everything/forget method does turn out a perfectly tasty and adequate stew. The one KEY principle for beef stew, no matter what the cooking method, is to let it cook long enough for the beef to get very tender. If you don’t let it cook long enough, it is very chewy and tough, but even the toughest meat gets tender if you let it simmer long enough.
One further note: I’ve found beef stew to be one never-fail meal to bring to new parents or people needing meal help during extended illnesses. It’s home-y flavor and simplicity seems to hit the spot for almost everybody.