A long slow simmer gives this classic beef stew its savory richness. Once you've made Sunday Best Beef Stew, you will find that drying the beef and a good sear is the key to the best stew you will ever have.
For me, stew is another cozy wintertime dish just right for cold drizzly days, when you want something on the back of stove simmering away that does not need tending every few minutes. A long slow simmer will let you spend quality time with family… or catch up on chores… or reading… and it scents the whole house with savory home cooked goodness.
But…to make a good beef stew takes time. Not so much prep time and standing over the stove time…but cooking time. There are some dishes that really benefit from long slow cooking. Like tomato based pasta sauces and pot roast, stew is one of those dishes. Unfortunately, our lives have gotten so busy in these times, Sunday is often the only day we have that we can afford the time of a slow cooked meal.
So, just in time for this Sunday… let’s talk stew. I love my stew recipe. Not just because it is delicious, but because when I make it, I make it because I love my family and friends. I want them to know I love them by making something that takes time, because…
time & care spent = love
Now, it does take more than love to make a good dish… so let me share with you my secrets to making the best stew!
Three Secrets to Making the Best Beef Stew
♥ DRY THE BEEF - You must dry the beef cubes with a towel before seasoning them and dredging them in flour. This was my Mom’s rule… and she was right. You get the best caramelization, if you dry your meat first.
♥ USE A GRAVY & SAUCE FLOUR - Since the meat is dredged in flour, this stew’s sauce will thicken as it cooks and reduces. So, you should not need to add additional thickeners. For this reason, I especially love using Wondra flour for the dredge. If you haven’t used it before, please give it a try. It makes the loveliest gravies and sauces.
♥ ALLOW TIME - This stew takes no less than 3 ½ hours to make and I typically plan for a 4 hour cook.
I would love to attribute this recipe to someone special in my past. But, I honestly don’t remember where I got the original basic recipe. It could have been a neighbor, or a very old cookbook belonging to my Mom. I only know this is the same recipe I’ve used to make beef stew for about the last 50 years. The only change I’ve made to it, is I buy the beef stock and do not make it myself anymore. The ones in the soup aisle are so very good now!
Sunday Best Beef Stew
- 3 Pounds Beef Stew Meat, Cut in ¾” Cubes
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- ¼ Cup Wondra Flour, Sauce and Gravy Flour
- ¼ Cup Safflower Oil
- 1 Large Sweet Yellow Onion,, Peeled, Cut in Half and each Half Cut into 6 Wedges
- 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 2 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Quart Beef Stock,, No Salt Added or Low Sodium
- Salt to Taste
- ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper,, Freshly Ground
- 3 Cups Carrots,, Peeled and Cut in 1” Chunks
- 3 Cups Golden or Red Potatoes,, Small 2”, Quartered
- 1 ½ Cups Celery,, Cut in 1” Chunks
- Remove beef from packaging and dry well with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Drying the meat is essential to get good caramelization during the searing of the meat. Sprinkle meat with salt and Wondra Flour, coating all sides. Shake off excess flour.
- In a large Dutch oven heat safflower oil at medium heat. When oil is shimmering add cubes of dredged beef in batches, turning and browning until all sides are a rich golden brown. Remove beef from Dutch oven and add onion wedges. Cook until slightly brown and translucent.
- Add brown sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaf. Stir well and add beef stock. Return beef to Dutch oven, cover and bring to a boil and then reduce to a slight simmer. Cook 2 hours.
- Liquid should be reduced approximately by half. Taste and add additional salt, if needed. Add finely ground black pepper, if desired.
- Add carrots and ½ cup water and simmer another 30”.
- Add potatoes and simmer another 15”. Add celery and continue to cook until potatoes are tender.
- Remove bay leaf before serving.