There’s nothing quite like a hearty bowl of beef and vegetable stew on a snowy winter’s night, but to be honest, I’d take it on a not-so-snowy summer’s night, too. Growing up in Florida, the concept of seasonal cooking was a bit foreign for me, living in a state that only has two seasons: very hot and less hot. Not wanting to be deprived of these classic wintertime delights, my mom would often make stews like this for two main reasons—they were inexpensive, a huge plus when feeding five kids, and they were delightfully hands off.
Boneless Chuck Roast for Thrift and Flavor
You might find that most beef stews call for short ribs, chuck roast, or “stew meat” (which is almost always chuck). The top choice for me is always boneless chuck roast, and look for marbling if you can find it. Short ribs have tons of flavor and are super delicious, but these days, they also cost tons of money. This hardworking part of the cow’s shoulder is delightfully inexpensive, but it’s tough, not unlike human shoulders. So consider this long braise the equivalent of a good massage to make the beef more tender.
And yes, you can absolutely buy pre-cut pieces of beef. Even less work! Just be sure to pick through the package to make sure they’re all cut to about the same size: one-inch pieces are what you’re looking for. Any bigger and they won’t get tender in the cooking time.
Hot Take: Browning Might be Overrated
It’s a phrase you read again and again: “searing meat seals in the juices.” It’s something we’ve chosen to believe over time, but what does it really mean? You might be shocked to find out this “tip” doesn’t actually mean a whole lot—in fact, it’s not even true.
While browned meat might look a lot more appetizing than that pale gray meat color (Benjamin Moore, that name is all yours), the truth is that in the end, all of the liquid and fat from the meat stays in the same pot, and all of the meat beautifully breaks down after two hours of cooking.
So I’ve skipped the tedious babysitting and flipping of small pieces, and added all the meat in the pot at the same time. It’s not the prettiest (at first!), but it only requires some occasional stirring, while you can get on with prepping the rest of your ingredients.
Build a Better Broth
If you’re the kind of person who has homemade beef stock or broth in the freezer, I admire you. You should use it here! If you’re like the rest of us, you’re hitting up the canned/boxed broth aisle of the grocery store. Keep in mind that there’s a big difference between brands in terms of flavor and salinity. I developed this recipe using Campbell’s beef broth, as I know it’s widely available, it’s reasonably priced, and I happen to think it has great flavor. If you have a favorite, feel free to use it. Other broths will likely have less added salt, so be mindful of that while you’re cooking. Keep tasting as you go to adjust for seasoning as needed.
Simple Quick Breads to Serve With Stew
Easy Beef Stew
I developed this recipe using Campbell’s beef broth. Other broths will likely have less added salt. If you use a different broth, just keep tasting as you go to adjust for seasoning as needed.
3 pounds well-marbled beef chuck stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 cups beef broth (see recipe note)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Cook the beef:
In a large bowl, season the beef pieces with 1 tablespoon of the salt. Heat the olive oil in a large (6 to 8 quart), thick-bottomed pot over high heat.
Add the beef all at once and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is no longer pink and some liquid has accumulated at the bottom of the pot, about 10 minutes.
Get the meat cooking as you prep the vegetables. This step isn't browning, per se; it gives the meat a jump-start as you ready the rest of your ingredients.
Add the vegetables:
Add the celery, onion, carrots, and parsnips. Reduce heat to medium-high. Season with remaining teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and vegetables are slightly softened, about 10 minutes more.
Add the thyme and flour, stir, and cook until raw flour is no longer visible, about 30 seconds.
Add the broth and simmer:
Add the beef broth, water, balsamic vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered and stirring every 20 minutes or so, until stew has darkened and thickened slightly, about 1 hour.
Add the potatoes and finish:
Add potatoes to the stew, stir well, and continue to simmer until the potatoes and beef are tender, about 30 minutes. Season to taste, transfer to serving bowls, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.
Refrigerate leftovers, tightly covered, for up to 5 days.
Because stewed potatoes do not freeze well, we don’t recommend freezing this recipe.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 17g||22%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||28%|
|Total Carbohydrate 32g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||18%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 18mg||92%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|