Homemade beef stew is perfect for those cold days. We are into autumn now and the first really chilly days have started. This means it is time for comfort foods. A rich and hearty beef stew is always good on cool days to warm us up and it kind of feels like a big hug.
I never buy “stew meat” labeled as such when I make beef stew. I find that the pieces are inconsistently sized and often really fatty. Instead I look for various roasts or other cuts that I can cut into bite size pieces myself. I found a package of petite tenders on sale and so that’s what I used today. The petite tender is a newer name of a beef cut and it is actually a part of the chuck shoulder clod. Cut the meat into bite size pieces, season with salt and pepper and then sprinkle the flour over it and toss it around.
Heat up a Dutch oven on medium-high and add about 1 tablespoon of oil, I used olive oil, you can use vegetable oil or whatever you prefer. Brown the meat in 2 batches. This allows for the best browning on all sides. Remove the browned pieces and set aside.
Chop a medium yellow onion and add to the pot. If you need a tad more oil, go head and add it. Now add some roughly chopped garlic. Saute the onions and garlic a few minutes.
I love using red wine when I cook with beef. It adds a depth to the dish I think. This time I used a semi-dry red wine, Mark Twain Reserve, from the Cave Hollow Winery in Missouri. If you are not a wine person you can use all beef stock if you prefer but you might want to add at least a splash or too of red wine vinegar to get some of that acid. While the heat is still high, add 1/2 cup of red wine to deglaze the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all those tasty bits, called fond, that are stuck to the bottom of the pot, they are packed full of flavor!
Lower the heat to medium and add the beef back into the pot and give it a good stir. Let it sit there and get all yummy while you get your veggies ready.
You can use any potato you like or that you have on hand. I had these Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes and used about 1 pound of them, cut into quarters. If you are using larger potatoes you will obviously need to cut them up a bit more. Toss those into the pot and give it another good stir.
Next up are the carrots. I adore carrots, they add a nice subtle sweetness to the dish and when you cook for a long time they get all nice and soft. Cut into coins and toss them in the pot and give it a stir.
Mushrooms are another favorite of mine, Hubby can take them or leave them though so I don’t use a ton of them. About 4 ounces of Baby Bellas is what I used today, cut into quarters. Toss those into the pot and stir again.
While some folks like actual pieces of tomato in stew, I’m not one of them. However, I do like the richness it can add to the stew so I use tomato paste. I adore Amore Tomato Paste, which I call “space paste” because it comes in a tube like some of the astronaut food used to back in the day.
Make a little hole in the ingredients in the pot and add the tomato paste and let it cook a minute or two and then stir it all together with the rest of the ingredients.
Add 3 cups of beef broth and another cup of wine. Raise the heat back up and bring to a boil. Add in 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1-2 bay leaves also. Once it has come to a boil give it another good stir, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and let it simmer for 2 hours.
Now uncover and simmer for another hour or so. This will let the stew thicken up some. If you still want it thicker after that hour mix about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in cold water to make a slurry and then stir it into the stew. Bring it up to a boil again to get the thickening to happen. Then reduce heat to low until ready to eat or serve right away.
Normally I would actually add some frozen peas right at the last 10 minutes or so of cooking but sadly I didn’t have any on hand. Serve with some warm crusty bread to sop up all of the gravy in your bowl too. I love serving foods like this in my grandma’s china – it just calls out for comfort food like this.
Are you a beef stew fan? What types of ingredients do you like in your stew?