This recipe for Beef Stew in a Dutch Oven includes tender fall apart beef, mixed with delicious vegetables, and served in a thick beefy sauce.
This is one of my favorite meals during Fall and Winter. After braising in the oven for a few hours tough budget-friendly chuck roast becomes meltingly tender.
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This one-pot meal feeds a crowd and while the cooking time is long most of it is hands-off. Plus the leftovers are even better; the flavor improves the longer it sits.
How do you make beef stew meat tender?
We are a family on a budget and beef can be very expensive. Which is why I love recipes that utilize cheaper cuts of beef.
The trick for turning cheap tough chewy chuck roast into tender delicious stew meat is to braise it or cook it low and slow. Chuck roast is usually well marbled with fat and connective tissue. As the chuck roast cooks the collagen in the connective tissue melts into gelatin, turning tough and chewy into moist and tender. That gelatin will also seep into the stewing liquids, giving it a creamy rich body.
Boneless Beef Chuck: Look for a chuck roast that is well-marbled. Meaning there are thin lines of white fat running throughout the meat. This fat will provide flavor and moistness.
For more tips about selecting the best cut for beef stew, check out this article from Serious Eats.
Salt and Pepper: To maximize flavor, salt and pepper the meat about 30 minutes before cooking. This will allow the salt to permeate into the meat flavoring it throughout. It will also help dry out the surface of the meat ensuring a great sear.
Olive Oil: Don’t worry about using a fancy olive oil. Basic olive oil will work just fine for searing the meat.
Aromatics (yellow onion, celery, carrots and garlic): The combination of onion, celery, and carrots is know in French cooking as a mirepoix. As the aromatics are slowly sauteed, they will caramelize adding additional flavor to the beef stew.
Acid (balsamic vinegar and tomato paste): Acid is a key component for any dish. It helps to balance the salty and sweet flavors and brighten the dish.
Beef Broth: Liquid is an important ingredient when braising. You could braise in something as simple as water but why not use a more flavorful liquid such as beef broth. You could also substitute chicken or vegetable broth.
Seasoning (Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and paprika)
Vegetables (Yukon potatoes, mushrooms, and peas): When chopping the vegetables, try to keep the sizes consistent and small. This will help them to cook evenly and ensure a variety of flavors in every bite.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to throw the beef and all of the vegetables in all at once. The beef needs hours to slowly braise and become tender. If you add the vegetables in at the same time they will turn to mush by the time the meat is done.
Garnish (fresh parsley): I love topping a bowl of beef stew with fresh parsley. The bright green herb adds great color contrast along with bright fresh flavor.
The only piece of special equipment you need is a cast iron dutch oven. Many people love the dutch ovens made by Le Creuset. They are beautiful, durable, and well made. Unfortunately their price sticker is a little high for me.
Which is why I love my dutch oven from Lodge. It is well made, cooks evenly, and comes in my favorite color at 1/3 of the cost.
A wooden spoon is also great to have to avoid scratching the dutch oven’s enamel coating. My favorite is this wooden spoon from OXO. Its shape is great for scraping along the edge of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 325°F and move the oven rack to the lower-middle position.
Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat on all sides in three batches adding additional oil for each batch. This will take about five minutes per batch. Do not crowd the pan. Transfer the meat to a large plate and set aside.
Note: Crowding the pan by trying to brown all of the meat at once will cause it to steam instead of sear. Preventing the meat from browning and developing a lovely caramelized flavor.
Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Season with salt and saute for 20 minutes until lightly browned and softened. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute more.
Add the beef and any juices on the plate back into the pan and sprinkle with flour. Stir until the flour is dissolved. Add the beef broth, Worcestershire, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and paprika. Bring to a boil scraping any additional brown bits from the bottom of the pan, cover, and place in the oven to braise for 2 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven and add the potatoes. Cover and place back in the oven for thirty more minutes. Remove the pot from the oven again and add the mushrooms and peas. Cook for an additional thirty minutes or until the vegetables are cooked, the broth is thickened, and the meat is tender.
Discard the bay leaf before serving. Salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe is versatile and can easily be customized to suit your tastes. Try substituting sweet potatoes for the white potatoes. Or you could leave out the potatoes and serve it over egg noodles. Don’t like peas? Try substituting green beans.
My favorite side dish for beef stew is bread. A flaky biscuit, crusty bread, or a soft roll are great for soaking up every last bit of the delicious gravy. If you have some sourdough starter my favorite rolls are these from Buttered Side Up.
I also usually serve a simple side salad along with this beef stew.
Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, place the leftovers in a pot on the stove-top and cook over medium heat until warm.
Beef stew also freezes really well. Place in an airtight container, label with the contents and date, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the beef stew to thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Once thawed, place the leftovers in a pot on the stove-top and cook over medium heat until warm.
Looking for more delicious fall/winter dinners? Try:
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