Beef stew is so perfect. I always get a great deal of satisfaction just from making it. It makes me feel, hmmm, don’t know exactly what the right word is, but it makes me feel ‘right’ with the world. The savory aroma fills the house and is welcoming in itself. Beef stew is made in my kitchen when the weather is really nasty, when warm seasons turn to cold, when daylight begins to shrink no matter how I pray it does not, when one of my kids is less than content with their world even if they are not under my roof, and when some one I care about is hurting. I love beef stew and I miss it. Miss it? Yes. I don’t make the stew as frequently as I did years ago, especially now that there are just two of us at the table. Occasions do arise, however, when I still make it. I usually feel a bit wistful while stirring but still cook away as I always hope the stew I am sharing will be as satisfying for others as it is/was for us. Beef stew comes from the heart, as it should.
Ingredients – A long list, but necessary for good stew!
1, 3 lb. beef chuck-eye roast. This is the best meat for a good stew. Yes, you may substitute with 2-1/2 pounds stew meat that you have trimmed and cut into uniform pieces. The stew meat is good but there is a definite difference in richness of flavor when you use chuck-eye roast.
2 strips bacon
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1-tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/8 cup all purpose flour
1-cup dark beer
6 cups low sodium, fat-free vegetable or beef stock
3 large bay leaves – use whole leaves that you can easily spot for fast removal.
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2-teaspoon ground mustard
1-teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg – fresh grated is best
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1-teaspoon ground sage
2-teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and large diced
4 – 5 large carrots, scrubbed, not peeled, and cut into medium chunks the same size as the potatoes
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
4 stalks celery, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
Pull chuck roast apart at ‘seams’. Trim fat, and cut meat into 1½-inch pieces. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
In Dutch oven or large roasting pan cook bacon on medium heat until almost crispy. Remove bacon and discard. (Yes, I often discard the bacon by eating it! Shame on me!) Carefully add vegetable and sesame oil to bacon drippings. Add meat.
Brown meat in two batches, 5 minutes per side. Remove meat and set aside on plate, not paper towel.
Add onions and garlic to pan and sauté 4 minutes. Onions won’t seem completely done, but that is fine. Reduce heat and add stock and ketchup. Wisk in flour. Cook 3 – 4 minutes. Add beer, scraping bottom of pan. Wisk in tomato paste. Add bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and spices. Return meat to pan. Cover and place in 350 oven 30 minutes. After 30 minutes add vegetables. Add extra stock if needed so liquid comes just to the top of the vegetables.Cover and return to oven 1 hour. Stir twice in the one-hour baking time. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5 – 8 minutes before serving. Be sure and remove bay leaves prior to serving.
Notes: This has been equally good when I have made it with venison or bison. Once cooked this stew freezes great.