What’s Our Beef? Stew!
A full-bodied beef stew, cooked slow to develop its flavors, is simple meat-and-potatoes fare at its height. Big chunks of carrots and onions play their parts, and herbs and often red wine bring the whole lovely mix together. And when you have the winter blahs, it’s a hearty way to banish them, in one warming bite.
Whether you prefer a good old Irish stew (with lamb or beef) or a more complex beef bourguignon, you’ll make your family ooh and ahh when the fragrance of beef stew starts wafting through the kitchen. And when they taste it? Get ready for raves.
Before you start, here are a couple of tips that will make this beef stew the best ever.
First, buy the best meat for stewing. That would be beef chuck (which comes from the shoulder, and which contains ample fat and connective tissue). Although you can buy stew meat already packaged, there may be other cuts in with the chuck, cuts, such as sirloin that don’t take as kindly to slow cooking. So buy your own big cut of chuck and cut it into chunks yourself. More work, yes, but more flavorful stew.
Then, brown your meat well as a first step. That high heat creates an intense layer of flavor that is then distributed throughout the meat as it braises.
Watch our video, “How to Make Beef Stew” for a step-by-step guide.
Old-Time Beef Stew: If you love the classic combination of beef, potatoes, carrots, and onions, this is the one for you.
Beef Bourguignon: Use your slow cooker or a Dutch oven on the stovetop for this langourously braised stew, made even more flavorful by being cooked with red wine (a Pinot Noir or Burgundy is recommended).
Skillet Beef Stew: When you don’t have time to go the slow-cook route, this stovetop stew is perfect. It’s ready in a little over an hour, and served over easy-to-make mashed potatoes (best made with rich Yukon Golds).
Beef-and-Sweet-Potato Stew: Try something deliciously different with this stew—sweet potatoes take the place of regular spuds, and a small amount of dried apricots or prunes along with a touch of cinnamon and cumin give this stew a well-rounded, exotic flavor. Put it all in the slow cooker and forget about it until it’s time for dinner.