You can get any number of beef stew varieties depending on where you are in the world. This recipe celebrates Jamaican flavors with a base of onions, scallion, garlic, thyme, hot peppers, and ginger, plus the classic Jamaican spice: pimento, aka, allspice.
Many beef stews include carrots and potatoes and this one’s no different. The potatoes not only add to the heartiness of the dish but the starch they contain also helps to thicken it.
Use this recipe as a guide and adjust the heat and the spice to your liking. Enjoy!
Burnt Sugar for the Win
Another signature of Jamaican Stew Beef is the deep, rich color. This is sometimes achieved via the addition of browning sauce. This bottled sauce is essentially burnt sugar and is used to color and flavor a variety of Caribbean stews, gravies, and even desserts.
You can also achieve this color by burning the sugar yourself while making the stew, as we do in this recipe. Sugar is included in the beef’s marinade so when it’s seared in the pan, the savory bits on the bottom of the pan become especially dark. This will result in the color and depth of flavor we want.
Swaps and Subs
This recipe calls for chuck beef stew meat but you could also use round roast. The key is to use a cut with a lot of connective tissue that will break down and yield super tender meat after our low and slow cooking process.
Scotch bonnets are a staple Jamaican hot pepper but not always easy to find in the US. Habanero peppers are a good swap. Speaking of heat, this recipe also calls for hot sauce. Any vinegar-based hot sauce will work here or you could try this Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce.
If you don’t have any hot sauce or don’t love spicy food, just skip it!
How to Make Beef Stew in a Slow Cooker
To make this recipe in the slow cooker, complete steps 1-3 as listed below, except you will add the browned beef directly to the slow cooker.
Add the stock, soy sauce, and ketchup to the pan with the onions and bring to a boil then pour into the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker, cover, and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours. Garnish with chopped scallion.
Note: You’ll want to cut the carrots and potatoes into larger chunks so that they don’t become too soft in the slow cooker.
How to Serve Jamaican Beef Stew
Rice is a classic pairing for this stew but anything starchy would make a great accompaniment. More potatoes, or dumplings (aka spinners), or even another grain like quinoa. You could also offset the richness with something fresh like a salad or steamed vegetables.
How to Freeze and Reheat Beef Stew
This stew freezes very well. If you’re freezing leftovers of the completed dish, just keep in mind that the potatoes will get softer in the process of freezing and thawing. If you plan to freeze the stew right away, do so before the step of adding the carrots and the potatoes. When you’re ready to enjoy the soup, thaw it and resume the cooking process at step 5.
More Amazing Beef Stew Recipes
Jamaican Beef Stew with Scotch Bonnets, Ginger and Allspice
For the most flavor, don’t skip the marinade time and note that this stew is even better the next day. When using store bought stock, I prefer to use chicken stock in this stew. If you make your own beef stock then feel free to use that instead.
- For the marinade:
- 2 1/2 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 5 medium scallions, chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 3 large whole thyme sprigs
- 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon minced scotch bonnet or habanero peppers
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- To prepare the stew:
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/4 inch rounds
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 to 1 inch chunks
- 1/2 cup sliced scallions, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1/4 cup sliced onion
Season the beef:
In a large bowl, add the cubed beef, onion, scallion, garlic cloves, thyme, ginger, scotch bonnet pepper, hot sauce, Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, allspice and sugar. Combine with your hands to thoroughly coat the meat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate one hour and up to overnight.
Remove beef from marinade:
Set a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Use a slotted spoon or your hands remove the meat from the beef marinade leaving any large pieces of onion, scallion, garlic, ginger or thyme in the bowl. Reserve the marinade. You will use it later.
Brown the beef in batches:
Sear the beef in batches on all sides, 4-5 minutes per side, setting the browned pieces aside in a clean bowl or on a plate as you go. You want to do this in batches so you can get a good sear. If you overcrowd the pan the beef won’t brown properly.
The sugar from the seasoning will make the brown bits on the bottom of the pan very dark brown, almost burning — don’t worry! This is the color we want. As long as you don’t have an unappetizing burnt smell, you’re still in good shape.
If it looks like it’s turning almost black, reduce your heat. You can even deglaze the pan between batches with a bit of the chicken stock and remove that liquid to the bowl with the seared meat before searing the remaining pieces.
Sauté the beef marinade:
Once all of the beef has browned, add the marinade to the pot and turn off the heat. Use a wooden spoon, and the residual heat, to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
Add the seared beef, stock, ketchup, soy sauce, bay:
Once all of the bits have been scraped from the bottom, add the beef back to the pot along with the stock, ketchup, soy sauce, and bay leaves. If you had trouble removing all of the bits, the stock will help you scrape up any last pieces.
Bring to a simmer:
Turn the burner on to medium heat and bring the stew to a simmer. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low or medium low and simmer gently until beef is tender, about 1 hour and the beef is tender.
Add carrots and potatoes and continue to simmer:
Once the beef is tender, remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Add the carrots and potatoes, stir well. Cover the pot. Simmer on low to medium low until the vegetables can be easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes.
Add remaining vegetables:
Add the remaining scallion, red pepper, and onion and cook uncovered for 5-10 minutes or until tender.
Thicken the stew:
To thicken the stew, you can remove the lid and reduce the cooking liquid until you reach your desired consistency or take a few of the tender potatoes and use a fork to smash against the side of the pot. This will give the stew body.
Adjust seasoning and serve:
Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper. Garnish with additional chopped scallions and serve alone or over rice. This stew tastes even better the next day!