Have you ever made a bland beef stew? Me too…
Beef stew seems like an easy enough dish to “get right”, but it took me years (and plenty of so-so stews) to figure out how to make a truly flavorful and tender beef stew that my whole family loves! Here’s what I have learned:
12 Tips for Great Beef Stew:
- I like to cut my own beef cubes from a chuck roast, it gives me control over the size of the pieces and allows me to trim exactly what I want.
- Start with a little bacon – it adds flavor to the dish and is a great fat to brown the beef in.
- I don’t flour my beef cubes, I like to thicken at the end. I feel you get better browning (flavor) without that layer of flour on the beef cubes.
- Secret Ingredient! Soy Sauce – a little soy sauce adds that umami: savory, beefy rich flavor
- Red Wine – Red wine plus some low-sodium beef stock are my liquids of choice. They really add tons of flavor.
- I don’t care for potatoes in my stew, I much prefer serving with creamy rich mashed potatoes or soft polenta.
- Double Onions: Chopped onions almost melt into the stew and the pearl onions become soft little pearls of flavor.
- Braise in the Oven: Cooking in the oven gives you even heat that penetrates the pan from all sides. I like to use a nice heavy cast iron dutch oven with a oven safe lid. The pieces of beef above the liquid level get the most beautiful brown carmelization from the slow oven roasting.
- Peas? Sometimes I add them to the stew right at the end, sometimes I serve them on the side. I usually make a large batch of stew and freeze half. I don’t feel as though the peas look as nice once they’re frozen and reheated.
- Thicken: I like to thicken my stew at the end of the cooking process. I make a paste of soft butter and flour and add it until it’s as thick as I want. Turns out this is called beurre manié in French and means “kneaded butter.” The flour particles get coated with butter helping them to not clump together, giving you a nice smooth sauce.
- Can I make this is my slow cooker or pressure cooker? I have done both, but feel you get the best flavor from the slow oven roasting. You don’t really get all that caramelized goodness in a slow cooker or pressure cooker.
- Make ahead! This is a great dish to make ahead. You can make up to 3 days in advance and reheat. It also freezes beautifully. I usually freeze half and can make 2 meals for our family of 4 from one batch of stew.
Perfect Picture for Pinterest! ⬇️
Beef Stew with Red Wine and Rosemary
- 4 slices bacon cut into thin strips
- 4 pounds beef chuck roast pieces after trimming - cut into 1 1/2 - 2-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt I use Morton coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups onion chopped
- 2 cups pearl onions fresh (peeled) or frozen
- 2 1/2 cups carrot pieces peeled and cut into 1 - 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon oil if needed
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves dried
- 1 1/2 cups red wine I used merlot
- 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2-3 tablespoons butter softened
- 2-3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt if needed
- 2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley chopped - Optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In heavy oven-safe dutch oven, cook bacon until crispy. Remove to paper towel lined plate. Keep 2 tablespoons bacon drippings in pan (drain any excess.)
- Season the beef chunks with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Brown over medium-high heat in batches. Remove to platter.
- Lower heat to medium and add chopped onion, pearl onions, carrot and garlic. If pan seems too dry, add 1 tablespoon oil. Sauté for about 3 minutes.
- Deglaze pan with the wine, scraping up bits from bottom of pan. Bring to simmer. Add broth and soy sauce to mixture. Add the beef back to the pot.
- Use cotton kitchen string* to tie the rosemary and thyme sprigs into a bundle that will be easy to remove later. Add the herb bundle, bay leaves and bacon to the pot.
- Cover pot with lid and place in oven to braise for 75 minutes - 2 hours. You know it's done when the beef chunks can be easily pulled apart with a fork. Remove herb bundle and bay leaves.
- To thicken the sauce, make a paste of butter and flour. (I use 2 tablespoons butter and flour, if you like a thicker stew, you can use 3 tablespoons butter and flour.) In a small bowl mash together softened butter and flour with a fork to form a paste. Spoon a few tablespoons liquid from stew into the paste and stir until smooth.
- Push the beef and vegetables to the side of the pan to make an area of liquid to add the thickening mixture. Pour in the thickening mixture, stirring to combine. Bring stew to simmer for a minute or two to thicken.
- Give the stew a taste, add additional salt if needed. Garnish with parsley if desired.