Mom was the head cook at our house, but Dad had a few specialties of his own. And this beef stew was one of his best. We always looked forward to those cold winter Sunday afternoons when he’d announce, “I think it’s a beef stew day!” Soon enough the warm, savory smells of stewing meat would fill the kitchen as Dad turned on the ballgame. At halftime we all jumped into the kitchen to help peel and chop veggies. By dinnertime we were too ravenous for patience, slurping and burning our mouths on the steaming stew.
Although winters are mild in San Diego, there’s still enough chill in the air to make me crave this stew. (I swear! It was 37 degrees last night!) So I made it this afternoon while we puttered around the apartment, taking an easy Saturday to unwind from our recent trip. And since it improves with time, I can’t wait for leftovers.
Savory beef stew recipe (makes about 8 servings)
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1.5 to 2 lbs stew meat, cubed
- 1 or 2 beef bouillon cubes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
- 2 bay leaves
- salt & pepper
- thyme, sage, or rosemary (but not all 3) to taste
- 2 small onions, quartered
- 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 can mushroom stems and pieces (or fresh)
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- (opt add-ins) 1 cup Guinness; 1 cup red wine; 2 Tbsp tomato paste; 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Cut big meat chunks into bite-sized bits. Optionally, coat meat in flour, salt, and pepper (I don’t bother). Heat oil in stew pot. Brown meat. Pour in water (and optional beer/wine) until meat is barely covered. Stir in all seasonings. Cover and simmer two hours.
Add veggies. Add more water to cover, if needed. Cover pot and simmer 30-60 minutes more, until tender.
Ten minutes before serving, use flour to thicken or water to thin, according to preference (but remember stew thickens considerably as leftovers). Taste and adjust seasonings.
For a taste of home, serve with crescent rolls or biscuits and lots of butter.