Beef stew – a simple but yet powerful winter dish. When made right, it packs a huge punch for your immune system, loads you up with iron, and will fuel a grown man after a hard day’s work shoveling snow or clearing wood. Damn, this dish will grow hair on your chest, no matter which gender you lean towards.
Over the years, I have shown a few Boy Scouts troops how to make a simple beef stew. The kids need to learn how to make a healthy survival dish when camping out. Burgers are more to eat when camping, but cooking a stew will feed you and recharge the body’s batteries. It was a popular cook-out event, and the boys enjoyed learned a valuable survival skill.
I recently introduced my family to my hearty beef stew. They had been complaining about being cold and miserable during the recent snow spells. My wife is not a huge fan of beef, so this was a bit of a gamble on my part. Would she hate or love it – or just politely eat it while dreaming about tofu.
The Viking family thoroughly enjoyed the beef stew, and asked for seconds. Even my wife grinned while slurping up the iron-rich stew.
Most ingredients are relatively easy to come by, and then it’s just a matter of letting the dish simmer for a while until the beef is tender. You need to give it plenty of time. You cannot rush a good stew.
Here’s what you need
- 1 large onion
- 1 lb of potatoes – red or tri-color baby potatoes are awesome
- 6 slices of thick-cut bacon
- 2-3 medium-sized carrots
- 8-9 regular mushrooms, white or brown, are equally delicious
- 2 lbs of beef chuck steak
- 4 cups red wine – I prefer a cabernet sauvignon
- 4 cups beef stock or broth
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 4 tablespoons of cornstarch
Beef chuck is an overlooked cut of meat that provides a great mix of quality beef combined with fat. It delivers a powerful punch. Historically, it has been mainly used for roasts, but you will not turn back to other cuts once you used it in a beef stew.Learn more here
The beauty of making a stew lies in the simplicity and how quick it is to get it ready for the simmering process. You basically need to cut vegetables and meat, throw it in a large pot, and simmer the shit for a while. OK, slightly oversimplified, but you get the idea.
Hearty Cooking Steps
I highly recommend using a large Dutch oven. These pots have become an essential part of my kitchen arsenal. Many wonderful dishes have been created in my Dutch oven. It is a rather expensive ‘pot,’ but damn, it is so worth the investment. Check out Le Creuset; although other brands will work just fine, invest in a Dutch oven.
- Cut the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces, and add it to your Dutch oven
- You do not need any oils or butter; just let the bacon fat melt slowly
- While the bacon is frying, cut the beef into 1-inch pieces, and place it in a bowl
- Season the beef with pepper and Holy Cow from my buddies over at Meat Church
- Let the bacon fry until golden, and then remove to a plate – leaving the fat behind
- Throw in the beef chick, and sear it on all sides
- While you are searing the meat, you might as well prepare the vegetables
- Cut the onion into pieces
- Cut the carrots in 1/2-inch slices
- Cut the mushrooms in half
- Cut the baby potatoes in half. Quarter spuds if you are using red potatoes
- When the beef is seared, please remove it from the Dutch oven, and place it with the bacon.
- Throw the onions into the pot, start working the wooden spoon, scraping the burnt meat and other goodies from the bottom of the Dutch oven – this is awesome flavors.
- When the onions are soft, translucent, and a bit brown on the edges, you add the red wine and the stock/broth.
- Let it simmer a few minutes while you continue to scrape the stuff of the bottom – it’s stew magic!
- Gently add the beef and bacon back to the pot, and mix them slowly.
- Add the carrots, potatoes, thyme, and mushrooms while stirring gently.
- Reduce the heat to a light simmer – now the waiting begins as the stew has to simmer for 2 hours.
- TIME for a break and a beer. Feet up and relax.
- Perhaps an opportunity to watch Bourne Identity (1 hr 59 mins)
- Mix the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water
- Stir the flour mixture into the set, and stir. It should thicken after a few minutes.
You can eat the stew on its own or serve it with a nice batch of mashed potatoes. It depends on what mood you are in. We tend to eat the stew on its own. It is packed with vegetables and potatoes, so there’s no real need to make mashed potatoes. Of course, you are the boos in your kitchen, so the decision is yours!
Either way, this is a perfect family dinner recipe. There’s limited talking as the gang is more focused on eating and might only utter a few simple requests, asking for a second serving.
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