Beef stew is one of those basic dishes everyone should know how to make—and once you’ve done it a couple times, you won’t even need a recipe. If you’re new to stew, here’s everything you need to know for the best beef stew.
What Is the Best Cut of Beef for Stew?
The best type of beef for stew is not a tender, fat-marbled cut, but cheap and tough beef chuck—the long cooking time and low temperature will transform it into a succulent, deeply flavorful treat as its ample connective tissue breaks down (and in the process, enriches the liquid).
Beef short ribs are also fantastic for braising or stewing, and so is oxtail, but when you think traditional chunks of boneless beef stew meat, chuck is what you want. Your store may sell “beef stew meat” that doesn’t specify the cut, or you can buy a boneless chuck roast and cut it into pieces yourself. Dive deeper into beef stew cuts if you’re interested in more details.
Beef Stew Meat, 2 pounds for $20 on Porter Road
Pre-cut for convenience.
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What Is the Best Pot for Cooking Beef Stew?
Any deep, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid will work, from a stockpot to a Dutch oven. What you don’t want is a pot with a thin bottom, as that can cause the stew to scorch. And if your pot doesn’t have a dedicated lid, you can improvise with a piece of parchment or any other lid that will fit.
Related Reading: The 10 Best Dutch Ovens for 2020
Of course, you can always make slow cooker beef stew for a more hands-off version.
What You Need to Make Beef Stew
For a basic bowl of beefy goodness (enough to serve two or three), you’ll need:
- one large potato
- one onion
- one celery stalk
- one carrot
- one pound of beef stew meat
- salt and pepper
- a few spoonfuls of flour
- oil (any kind)
- tomato paste (optional)
- two bay leaves
- red wine (optional)
- one quart of beef broth
How to Make Beef Stew
1. Chop the vegetables into large pieces. Set aside.
2. Generously sprinkle the meat on all sides with salt and pepper. Sprinkle flour over the meat and toss to coat.
3. Coat the bottom of the pot with oil and heat over medium-high heat until the oil is very hot and shimmering, about three minutes. Place the meat in the pot and cook it for three to four minutes without disturbing it. (A nice brown crust is forming.) Turn the meat and cook it a few more minutes until it’s browned on all sides. Remove the meat to a plate.
4. Pour all but a couple of spoonfuls of the hot oil into a heatproof container (you can throw the oil away after it cools) and return the pot to the stove over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery; season with salt and pepper; and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are browned, about five minutes.
5. Add the tomato paste (if using) and bay leaves and stir to coat the vegetables in the tomato paste. Pour in enough wine (if using) to coat the bottom of the pot, then use the back of a spoon to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. (This is called deglazing.)
6. Add the potato, the meat and any accumulated juices, and enough beef broth to cover everything. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the stew is simmering. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender, about one hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
How to Change It Up
You can make any number of minor changes—think throwing in a handful of frozen peas toward the end of cooking time, or sauteing some mushrooms along with the other veggies; adding other spices or aromatics like minced garlic, thyme sprigs, or a bit of fresh rosemary; or even deglazing with dark beer instead of wine. But if you’re feeling like branching out even farther from the basics, check out these international beef stew recipes for new takes on the comfort food classic.
Related Video: An Easy Beef Stew Recipe in Action