Winter cooking to me means hearty soul-warming comfort foods…soups, pot pies, and stews. I like my stew thick and hearty, to the point where one isn’t sure if it should be eaten with a spoon or with a fork. And Hubby likes his stew packed with meat. This recipe from Joelen at What’s Cookin, Chicago?, one of our favorite food bloggers, easily meets both sets of criteria. We have made it several times and have never been disappointed. The first time we made it for our family, the kids both claimed that it was “the best beef stew ever”. A total keeper.
The only modification we have made is we cut the meat back to half of what the original recipe uses. My husband did initially utter a “what???” when I mentioned cutting back on the beef, but even he agreed that 2-1/2 pounds of beef was still more than sufficient for a family-sized hearty beef stew.
We have always made the stove top version, on a weekend, but Joelen does provide slow cooker instructions a well.
- 2-1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck eye roast, all visible fat trimmed, cut into 1½ inch cubes*
- salt & pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 onions, minced (about 4 cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (6oz) can tomato paste
- ¼ cup all purpose flour, seasoned
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 cups low sodium chicken or beef broth
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 pound baby carrots
- 1 cup button mushrooms, halved
- 1½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups frozen peas
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
- Pat meat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over high heat until just starting to smoke. Add half of beef and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total, reducing heat if oil begins to smoke or fond begins to burn. Transfer beef to large plate. Repeat with remaining beef and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, leaving second batch of meat in pot after browning.
- Reduce heat to medium and return first batch of beef to pot. Add onion to Dutch oven and stir to combine with beef. Cook, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits, until onion is softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until no dry flour remains, about 30 seconds.
- Slowly add wine, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits. Increase heat to high and allow wine to simmer until thickened and slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, bay leaves, thyme, and soy sauce. Bring to simmer, cover, transfer to preheated oven, and cook for 1 and ½ hours.
- Remove pot from oven; remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in the baby carrots, cover, return to oven, and cook until they are almost tender, about 45 minutes.
- Using large spoon, skim any excess fat from surface of stew. Add the mushrooms, cover and cook over medium heat on the stovetop until meat offers little resistance when poked with fork (meat should not be falling apart), about 15 minutes. Stir in frozen peas, and allow to warm through. Check for seasoning and serve.
- To convert to a crockpot, prepare the recipe as is up to the point where the wine is added to the bottom of the pan.
- Place the meat, contents of pan with wine and the remaining ingredients except for the peas into a crockpot.
- Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
- Remove the bay leaves and add the peas in the last 15 minutes and stir to warm through.