With the weather in cool weather swing in the Midwest, I have been adding a lot of hearty soups and stews to our menu plans. Beef stew is one of my favorite dishes to make because it is so richly satisfying with so many of the pantry and fridge staples that I already have on hand. I have tried many beef stew recipes and never found, “the one,” for our family…that is until now. In fact, this is the first pot of stew that I have ever even gotten my family to attempt eating, let alone beg for the leftovers the next day.
This stew is so rich and decadent, because of the use of bacon in this stew. The bacon fat is what all of the vegetables get coated in for cooking and then the cooked bacon is set aside for crumbling on top of the stew once it comes out of the oven. I filled the broth with red wine and beef broth, but the wine could be replaced with the beef broth if you don’t have that on hand. Either way, this soup is delicious and filling.
I know this dish might not be for the diet conscious, but it is for those nights when you want something comforting and satisfying on the weekend. I served these big bowls of stew up with bacon crumbles and fresh parsley. On each plate I nestled my easy Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins to round out the dinner.
I have discovered if those muffins are involved…
I can get my kids to try anything that might be put in front of them.
That is my secret to picky eating in my house.
Serve a muffin.
Hearty Beef Stew
3 lbs. boneless beef chuck
4 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
2 Tbs. canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped (I omitted because we don’t like onions)
3 carrots, cut into chunks
3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
6 Tbs. all-purpose flour
4 cups beef stock or broth
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 lbs. red-skinned potatoes
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Cut the beef into 1 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and browned, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside. Pour the fat into a heatproof bowl. Return 2 Tbs. of the fat to the pot and heat over medium-high heat. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper. In batches to avoid crowding, add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer the beef to a plate.
Add another 2 Tbs. of the fat to the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and let it melt. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Gradually stir in the stock, and then stir in the tomato paste, the 1 Tbs. parsley and the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Return the beef to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, place in the oven, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Cut the unpeeled potatoes into 1-inch cubes, add them to the pot, stir, re-cover and continue cooking until both the meat and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes more. Season the stew with salt and pepper. Serve at once, garnished with parsley and the reserved bacon. Serves 6.
Variaton: Substitute 1 1/2 cups hearty red wine, such as Syrah or Zinfandel, for an equal amount of the beef stock. If you like, sauté 1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, quartered, in 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes, and add them to the stew with the potatoes.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Serving Size: 8