Beef stew is the quintessential hearty comfort food. On a cold day (even in the middle of summer when it’s rainy and the temperature has fallen 20 degrees and it’s still 75, but it feels so chilly by comparison), there’s nothing I like better than a rich stew. See? It doesn’t take much to make me happy!
- 2 pounds beef stew meat
- 1 Tbsp. flour (seasoned with a little seasoned salt and pepper
- 3 Tbsp. cooking oil (for browning the meat)
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 cups celery, chopped
- 1 small bag of baby carrots
- 4 – 6 cups of beef broth or stock (depending upon whether you want a soupier stew or a stiffer stew)
- 2 Tbsp. sherry (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- A few dashes of Tabasco
- 1 can tomato sauce (I use Muir Glen organic)
- 1 can tomato paste (Muir Glen is my choice for this, too)
I use a pressure cooker for this, but it can be made without one. Pressure cooking merely cuts down the cooking time and ensures the meat will be tender. If you use a pressure cooker, you know the drill. These directions explain how to do it without one.
Put the flour into a large bowl or sack. Add the salt and pepper. Throw in the stew meat and toss well to coat.
Heat up your skillet to medium. Once it’s hot, brown the meat in it. Add your onions, celery and garlic and continue to cooke. Steam your baby carrots in the microwave for about 5 minutes to get them tender.
To the meat, onion, celery, garlic mixture, add your Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. When the onion pieces are somewhat tender, slowly add your beef broth, bay leaves, and carrots to the mixture. Allow to cook for fifteen minutes. Add the sherry. Cook another ten minutes. Slowly stir in your tomato sauce, then the tomato paste.
Pull out a spoonful or two, let it cool a bit, then taste it. Now is the time to go wild with your personal adjustments. If it were me, I’d probably sneak in a tablespoon of chili garlic paste or more Worcestershire sauce. Sometimes I’ll add a teaspoon of sweetener or another dash of salt or pepper. If necessary, I’ll put on a lid, set the heat at simmer, and let it cook a while longer if the meat is not tender yet. Since it’s been cooking awhile, the lovely aroma wafting through the house may have brought some hungry visitors into your kitchen. Let them weigh in with any suggestions they might have (which you can feel free to act upon or ignore). I often add a can or two of Italian green beans. (Drain the liquid first, if you do so!)
Let’s face it. Stew is not pretty. It is a brown lumpish mass. Your only hope is to find the cutest little soup bowls or containers you have available and fill them up. That’s what I did!