I LOVE a good stew. They are the ultimate comfort food (followed by a cheesy hash brown casserole). They fill up your belly with food and your heart with warmth. There are so many variations of stew that are downright delicious: Japanese curry, goulash, and old-fashioned beef stew, which is today’s recipe.
In January, when it’s freezing cold in Winnipeg, cooking up a batch of stew is an instant cure to get rid of the winter blues. Alright, maybe not an instant cure per se… there’s a wait time of 3 hours before you can dig in. But you know what I mean: it’s a lifesaver in our cold Canadian winters.
It’s got the most incredible flavor, this stew. Being slow-cooked for over 3 hours allows the seared beef to really tenderize in the broth, which is extremely delicious after all the flavors of the vegetables and broth meld together. In the broth are beef stock, red Cabernet Sauvignon, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, and herbs. Get in my belly!
My dog Pete seems to love the entire cooking process too. He’s always lurking around and waiting for that golden moment when I accidentally drop a piece of beef to the ground so he can gobble it all up before I can yell “5-second rule!”
I don’t usually dish out pro tips this early in the blog post but here it is: If your dogs are around the kitchen when you’re making this dish, be ready to share. Those hungry, puppy-dog eyes have more power than you think.
If you’re still not convinced, here are three more reasons you need to make this beef stew:
- This beef stew can be made in one pot (either a Dutch oven or in a pot on a stovetop). It’s so convenient and it makes cleanup easier.
- It’s easy to make. Cooking beef is tricky, especially when the level of doneness is critical. However, with beef stew, the longer you cook, the more tender it gets. This means any cut of beef will do just fine – even the tougher ones.
- You can use beef stew in so many ways, not just as a soup. I like to serve it with bread which I can use to soak up all the soup. You can also use stew as a filling for tarts, and as a sauce over mashed potatoes. It can also go over rice, just like Japanese katsu curry rice.
This stew recipe is guaranteed to have you and your guests fighting for every last drop of the stew. I recommend making extras!
Mouthwatering, heartwarming beef stew begins with the perfect cut of beef and nutritious vegetables slow-cooked in a well-seasoned broth.
For the meat:
- Boneless beef – Buy 2 ¼ pounds of boneless stewing beef pre-cut into 1 ½ inch chunks. Usually, the best cuts of beef for making stew are the chucks, boneless cross-cut shanks, and brisket because they’re all so tender. I usually get mine from Costco.
- Olive oil – Prepare 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil for searing the beef.
Then, for mirepoix vegetables that will accompany the meat:
- Yellow onions – Cut 1 ½ yellow onions into 1-inch chunks.
- Garlic – Peel and mince 8 large garlic cloves. If you’re big on garlic, why not throw a whole bulb of 10 to 12 cloves in there?
- Carrots – Peel and slice 4 medium carrots diagonally into ½-inch bite-sized pieces.
- Fingerling potatoes – Fingerling potatoes are stubby, elongated finger-like potatoes. They’re a good choice for stews because they are buttery and earthy, but they also hold together very well for long hours of cooking. Cut into 1-inch cubes.
- Pro Tip: You do not need to peel fingerling potatoes, just give them a good rinse.
- Frozen peas – We will also need 2 cups of frozen green peas – yes, a little bit of green, enough to prove we’re eating our vegetables.
Finally, for the extremely umami-flavored broth, put these ingredients together:
- Beef broth – To give your stew that depth and richness, we will need 2 ½ cups of beef broth. Beef broth is sold in cans and cartons at supermarkets, but you can go the extra mile and DIY it by slowly boiling beef bone and meat cuts.
- Cabernet Sauvignon red wine – Get a really full-bodied, high-tannin wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, get your favorite bottle. Louis Martini is my go-to for a hearty beef stew like this.
- Balsamic vinegar and tomato paste – You never would’ve guessed, but a lot of the flavor in a beef stew comes from balsamic vinegar and tomato paste.
- All-purpose flour – Measure 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. This works with the broth to thicken it into the luscious texture that distinguishes stew from soup.
- Dried thyme and bay leaf – When working with red meat like beef, I always make sure I put in 1 bay leaf and a bit of thyme. They are very subtle but lace the stew with a delicate herby aroma.
- Sugar, salt, and pepper – One of the culinary essentials is seasoning. One tip is to season lightly at the start, and after the beef stew is completely done, you can adjust the seasoning to taste with either soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce.
Step One: Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Start the mise en place and prepare all your vegetables before you turn on the heat.
Step Two: In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until it is hot and simmering. Brown the beef chunks, turning with tongs, for about 4 minutes per batch. Cook in batches, adding one tablespoon more oil for each batch.
- Pro Tip: To sear the beef properly, do not crowd the pan so the heat distributes evenly. Let the meat caramelize and develop a nice, brown crust before turning with tongs.
Step Three: Transfer the meat to a large bowl and set it aside.
Step Four: Add the carrots, onions, garlic, and balsamic vinegar to the Dutch oven. As you saute them, stir and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Saute for 10 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and you can smell the fragrance of the mirepoix. Stir in the tomato paste for one minute.
Step Five: Add the beef with its glorious juices back to the pan.
Step Six: Sprinkle the mixture with all-purpose flour, gradually stirring until there aren’t any lumps remaining.
Step Seven: Add the potatoes, wine, beef broth, thyme, sugar, freshly ground pepper, and bay leaf. Continue to stir, loosening any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with the lid and let the stew simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat.
- Pro Tip: I know you want to be able to admire your beef stew from afar, but the lid should always stay on. This traps the heat and moisture inside the pot and speeds up the tenderizing process.
Step Eight: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F and set the oven rack in the lower-middle position. Transfer the pot to the preheated oven and bake for 2 ½ hours.
- Pro Tip: It is also possible to simmer the beef stew on a stovetop or an induction cooker. Be sure to watch the heat and stir the bottom of the pot occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
Step Nine: Add frozen peas to a microwave-safe bowl and add enough water to cover the peas. Microwave on high for 3 minutes to soften the peas. Drain the peas in a colander.
Step Ten: Remove the pot from the oven at the 2 ½ hour mark and add your drained peas. We add peas only at the end because they’re softer and don’t need that much cooking time. Cover and place back in the oven for one hour more until the vegetables have cooked, the broth has thickened, and the meat is fork-tender. Discard the bay leaf.
- Pro Tip: If the broth has not thickened yet, remove the lid off the pot so the liquid can evaporate and reduce even more.
Step Eleven: Serve the stew warm with fresh, soft buns to mop up all the juices. Enjoy with your eyes closed for the best experience.
Other Stew Add-ins
Try these variations with your beef stew. You might like it a lot more than my original stew recipe.
Sauteed mushrooms and leek – When sauteed in butter, the umami flavor that emanates from white mushrooms is irresistible. And the natural sweetness of leek just adds to the magic. Once the mirepoix has been cooked, set it aside. Then, saute the mushroom and leek in the same pan for 5 minutes.
Spice it up – Fancy a little edge on your stew? Let 1 ½ tablespoons of peppercorn simmer in the broth and every spoonful of the stew will leave a tingling sensation on your lips. Season the stew with some smoked paprika for some spice that’s also fragrant.
Use a gluten-free thickener – All-purpose flour is a very effective thickener. However, it isn’t gluten-free. Replace this with cornstarch mixed with water (1:1 ratio) to create a slurry that you can pour into the broth.
Freezing & Reheating
This beef stew improves in flavor if made at least 1 day ahead, almost as if it were marinating in itself.
How to refrigerate beef stew: After the beef stew has completely cooled, cover and chill it in the fridge. It’s important not to refrigerate beef stew that’s still hot as it will completely spoil it. Beef stew will last up to 3 days in the fridge.
How to freeze beef stew: The stew can be frozen for up to 3 months. Portion them into separate containers before freezing. Before serving, defrost the stew in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Then, reheat on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot or in the microwave for a quick and easy dinner.
To reheat the beef stew, bring the pot to a boil at medium heat or in a 350°F oven until the meat is heated through to an internal temperature of 165°F. You don’t want to bite into meat that’s still cold in the center.
Still undecided? Explore my other delicious recipes for heartwarming, comfort food:
Beef Stew Recipe
- 2 ¼ pounds approx. 1 kg boneless Stewing Beef precut into 1 ½ inch chunks (I get mine from Costco)
- freshly ground salt + pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ yellow onions approx 2 cups, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 8 large garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 2 ½ cups carrots approx 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices
- 2 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon red wine I used Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2 ½ cups beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups fingerling potatoes cut into one inch cubes
- 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups frozen peas
- Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and season with the salt and pepper.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat until hot and simmering. Brown the meat in batches, turning with tongs, for about 4 minutes per batch; add one tablespoon more oil for each batch. (To sear the meat properly, do not crowd the pan and let the meat develop a nice brown crust before turning with tongs.) Transfer the meat to a large bowl and set aside.
- Add the carrots, onions, garlic and balsamic vinegar to the dutch oven. Cook, stirring and scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, for about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for one minute more.
- Add the beef with its juices back to the pan
- Sprinkle with the flour, gradually stirring until there aren’t any lumps remaining.
- Add the potatoes, wine, beef broth, thyme, sugar, freshly ground pepper and bay leaf. Continue to stir to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with lid and let simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and set the oven rack in the lower middle position.
- Transfer to the preheated oven for 2 ½ hours.
- Add frozen peas to a microwave safe bowl and add enough water to cover the peas. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Drain the peas in a colander to remove all excess water.
- Remove the pot from the oven at the 2 ½ hour mark and add your drained peas. Cover and place back in the oven for one hour more, or until the vegetables are cooked, the broth is thickened, and the meat is tender. Fish out the bay leaf and discard.
- Serve the stew warm with fresh soft buns -- or let it come to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator overnight or until ready to serve.