Fill your home with the smells of this simple, slow cooked Beef Stew with mushrooms and carrots, cooked along with thyme and bay leaves. You’ll also love the deep flavour of the sauce, so have some dinner rolls on hand to mop it up with.
Tasty and economical, Beef Stew is a perfect meal for those colder months. There’s something enticing about popping everything in one pot and letting it do its own thing. It’s also a great dish to experiment with. For the veggies, I use mushrooms and carrots (my favourite). You can add/substitute with potatoes and celery. Or experiment with ingredients such as:
- caraway seeds
- chilli paste
- chutney or
- Worcestershire sauce
Whatever you do, please don’t compromise on the meat. Chuck steak is ideal not just because of the price, but because it is marbled with fat and fat means flavour. I don’t ever use blade steak because it’s just too tough and dry.
Browning the Meat
One of the most important steps in making a stew is to brown the meat well, and l mean until it’s dark in colour. And the smell of meat being seared is amazing. All those little burnt bits that stick to the bottom of the pot is where lots of flavour resides. But l didn’t always think that.
When watching my mother make her Greek stews, l used to think she was ruining her pots by browning her meat so aggressively. Embarrassingly, l even told her so – me, who at the time, knew next to nothing about cooking. With experience and the kind patience of my mother, l now know better. Sorry mum!
What to serve with Beef Stew
Once the beef, sauce and veggies are cooking away happily, it’s time to think about what you’re going to serve it with. Don’t worry, l’ve got you covered. Sides with subtle flavours are the best (l think) because they let the flavours of the Beef Stew shine. Prepare to salivate as you read through the list of suggested sides.
Beef Stew is not a complicated dish to make, so you don’t need to be a Masterchef. But once you’ve lifted the lid and seen what you’ve created – a dish that’s astoundingly flavourful – you will feel like one.
Preparation Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 5 – 6
- 1 tbsp olive oil plus 2 tbsp extra
- 1.2 kg/2.5 lbs chuck steak cut into 4 cm/ 1.5 ” cubes
- 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3/4 cup red wine or beef stock
- 2 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
- 3 cups beef stock
- 3/4 tsp dried thyme or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 3 cm chunks
- 250 g/9 oz swiss brown or button mushrooms
- Place lid of a large pot on baking/parchment paper. Draw a circle around it. Cut out and set aside (note 1).
- Preheat oven to 180 C/ 350 F (note 2)
- Pat dry the meat with a paper towel then sprinkle with salt and pepper (note 3).
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in large pot over high heat.
- Sear the meat in batches until it’s very dark on the outside (note 4). Remove each batch from the pot and place in a bowl.
- Reduce the heat to moderate and add 2 tbsp oil. Add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion has softened. Scrape the burnt bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. This adds flavour to the onion mixture.
- Add tomato paste and wine. Stir until tomato paste has dissolved.
- Return the meat to the pot including any juices. Sprinkle with flour.
- Add the stock, thyme and bay leaves. Stir to dissolve flour. Liquid should almost cover contents of pot.
- Bring to a simmer. Place baking paper over the stew. Cover with lid. Place in oven for 1 1/2hrs or until meat is tender.
- Remove baking/parchment paper. Add mushrooms and carrots. Place baking paper on top.
- Return pot to oven. Bake for 45 mins or until veggies are cooked. The sauce/gravy should have consistency of thin cream. If required, remove lid and baking paper and return pot to oven until desired thickness is reached.
- Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve over mashed potato, couscous, rice or parsnip mash.
- Covering your stew is going to save you a lot of time scrubbing the lid of your pot.
- Stove Top: You can cook this stew on your stove top over medium low heat if you prefer. The cooking times remain the same.
- To prevent meat spitting while being seared, l pat it with paper towels.
- I used to think my mum was ruining her pots when she cooked stews. Little did l know then, that that’s were so much flavour lies.
- Freezing: Beef Stew freezes well. Store in an air tight container leaving 2 cm / 3/4″ from the top to allow expansion in the freezer. Stew can be frozen for up to 4 – 6 weeks.