Simple Beef Stew

A big pot of stew in the fridge is like having the most delicious secret in the world.  You can walk around smiling a little Mona Lisa smile and humming, knowing that your delicious dinner is getting even better while you go about your business, and then come home and just whip it out and heat it on the stove.  It’s not a “look at me!” kind of dish. That’s okay.  It’s stew.  

Low and Slow Simmering

It’s a very simple, unfussy stew and while it takes a couple hours of simmering there is very little hands-on work involved.  And, you will have the added perk of a home that smells like some serious dinner is cooking.   Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to try and make the cooking go faster; it will result in tough meat.

Simple Beef Stew

Once when I was making it, I went out in the hallway to take out the trash.  A neighbor was standing down the hall, a glass of wine in her hand, just hanging out outside her apartment.  “My husband told me I had to come out and check out what smelled so wonderful, coming from down the hall,” she said, with no evidence of irritation. I am not sure I would have been as amenable to such a suggestion from my husband.  I might have suggested that my husband spend as much time in the hall inhaling the aroma of our neighbors’ dinner as he wished while sliding the deadbolt into place behind him

Make Ahead Beef Stew

Double this.  Triple this.  Freeze half.  You can of course serve it right away, but like all stews it is better tucked in the fridge, and then reheated the next day, or several days later.   

To freeze the stew, cool it completely and place it in airtight freezer proof containers. Leave about 1/2 inch of headroom (empty space between the top of the stew and the lid) as the stew will expland slightly as it freezes, and you don’t want the top of the container to pop off. Make sure to label the container with the name of the contents and the date. It will last for at least 3 months in the freezer.

You can also make it ahead and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat it over low heat, stirring occasionally on the stove until hot. You can also reheat it in a pot a low oven, about 300°F, covered, until heated through. Stir occasionally to make sure it heats evenly.

Simple Beef Stew

Share the Stew!

Bring it to potlucks (when there are potlucks again).  Bring it to new neighbors, to parents of new babies, to friends who have had a tough week.  It’s a good, solid stew.

Simple Beef Stew: A big pot of stew in the fridge is like having the most delicious secret in the world. 

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Simple Beef Stew

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Simple Beef Stew

A big pot of stew in the fridge is like having the most delicious secret in the world. 
Yield: 4 People
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped bacon or pancetta
  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck , brisket, or round, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion , chopped
  • 2 carrots , diced
  • 2 celery stalks , diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves , or 1 teaspoon dried
  • ½ cup red wine , preferably a robust one (optional)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • coarsely chopped fresh for garnish (optional) parsley

Directions

  • Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat, add the olive oil then add the bacon or pancetta and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate, leaving the remaining fat in the pot. Season the beef with salt and pepper, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook the meat, turning so that it browns on all sides, about 5 minutes in all. You will likely need to do this in two batches to avoid crowding the beef in the pan, which keeps it from browning nicely (don’t worry about a pink spot here or there). Using the same slotted spoon, transfer it to the plate with the bacon.
  • If there is more than 1 tablespoon of fat left in the pan, pour off the extra. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, celery, and if you are using dried thyme, add it s well. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for one more minute. Add the wine to pot, and stir to scrape up the little browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the broth, and then return the beef and bacon to the pot, making sure to include any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low and cover.
  • Now you get to go about your business for about 2 hours, peeking occasionally to enjoy the aromas and to see if you need to add any more broth or water if it looks like it’s getting too thick or dry. Add the fresh thyme, if using, just as the meat becomes tender to your liking. It may take another 30 or more minutes to become super tender; it depends on the meat.
  • You can of course serve it right away, but like all stews it is better tucked in the fridge, and then reheated the next day, or several days later. Sprinkle parsley on top if you wish.

Notes

Serves 4 (but doubles or triples easily; just use a bigger pot).

Nutrition Information

Calories: 495kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 432mg | Potassium: 961mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 5172IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 5mg

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