This is really great cold weather stew. In a great stew the beef is so tender you can press it with the back of a spoon and it will flatten and separate right into the sauce. It should be rich with tender carrots, mushrooms and onions as well. I don’t use potatoes because I don’t want all those carbs and my family doesn’t even notice.
Here are my 3 Secrets for foolproof Best Beef Stew. Technically this is Beef Bourguignon if you want to be fancy pants.
1. Always use Cubed Boneless Beef Chuck. I don’t use ‘Stew Meat’ because I don’t know what cut of beef it’s from. I buy from the Meat Counter at Fresh Market as I find it is LESS expensive for their higher quality meat. We’ve all bought a supermarket roast and once we remove it from the styrofoam, the underside is fat & gristle. This does not happen at Fresh Market BUT if you don’t have one nearby, ring the bell at the supermarket counter and ask for a 2 1/2 pound boneless chuck roast and if you are not comfortable with the big knife, ask to have it cut into 2 inch cubes.
2. Sear the Meat. Take your time and leave space around each piece and cook on all sides until nicely browned. Do half at a time so they are not crowded. The flavor from this step is worth the extra time.
3. Simmer Low and Slow. You can’t rush great stew. Too short a cooking time and its tough… too long and its dry with mushy vegetables. The sweet spot for the fat in that meat to suddenly transform into the meltingly tender bites is right around 2 1/2 hours.
- 4 slices smoked bacon, diced
- 3 pound Beef Chuck Roast cut into 2-inch cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
- 3 small onions, cut each into quarters
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 3 cups red wine - I use Pinot Noir as that's what's in my fridge
- 2 cups beef broth - I use Swanson Beef Stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste - even though its just a tablespoon, it adds lots of flavor
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 8 ounces crimini 'baby bella' mushrooms, cut in half or quartered if large
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Cook the bacon over medium heat in a large heavy covered pot or Dutch oven until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to a deep bowl.
- Dry the beef cubes with paper towels then sprinkle with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons flour. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot bacon grease for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to carefully brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to a plate and continue until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
- Cook the carrots and onions in the fat in the pan for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Put the meat back into the pot along with bacon and all the juices. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Add the wine, beef broth, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 2 to 3 hours, until the meat is fork tender.
- Sauté the mushrooms in butter in a medium skilled, 3 to 4 minutes until water is released, then reduced so they lightly brown. Add to the stew. Continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.