A Simple Stew with Big Flavor
Here is something for your winter dinner rotation: Chunky vegetables and slow-cooked beef swimming in a stock of beef and beer. This hearty no-nonsense beef stew is a must-have for a dreary winter night, and with St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, you can dump a bottle of Guinness into the stock and call it Irish. And, while this stew is indeed simple and humble in ingredients, there are a couple of important steps you can take when making this recipe that will reward you with deep flavor.
The first step, as with many meat stews and braises, is to take the time to sear the meat well before braising. Searing the meat caramelizes its natural sugars and forms a crust, which adds rich meaty flavor to the stock. And note that searing does not mean a quick color and flip. It means taking the time to thoroughly brown the meat well on all sides, which can take up to 8 minutes. Also, do not overcrowd the pan with all of the meat at once when searing. Crowding will steam the meat and prevent the desired browning, so be patient and divide the meat into batches to sear.
Second, while you can certainly make and serve this stew in one day, it will taste even better if you make the stew a day in advance of eating. I know, I know, waiting is a big ask, but the flavors will continue to meld and develop when the stew is refrigerated overnight. Not only that, by refrigerating the stew ahead, the next day you will find that the fat has risen to the top and solidified, so it can be lifted off with ease and discarded, leaving you with a pristine stock.
So, go ahead and treat yourself to this warm and comforting stew, and while you’re at it, why not make a double batch? Any leftovers can be frozen for up to one month. It’s guaranteed to taste good.
Simple Beef Stew
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 1/2 hours
Serves 4 to 6
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck, excess fat trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil , divided
1 large shallot, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups dark beer, such as Porter or Stout, divided
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups beef or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Season the beef with salt and pepper.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef in batches in one layer, without overcrowding, and brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate and repeat with remaining beef.
3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the Dutch oven. Add the shallot and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Add 1/4 cup beer to the pot and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits with a spoon. When the beer is nearly evaporated, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly caramelized, about 1 minute. Return the beef to the pot and stir to coat.
4. Add the remaining 1 cup beer, the stock, bay leaf, sugar, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. The meat should be just covered with liquid. If not, add additional stock to cover. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
5. While the meat is cooking heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots and onions and lightly season with salt. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften without browning, 4 to 5 minutes.
6. Add the carrots, onions, and the potatoes to the stew and stir to combine. Return to the oven and cook, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender and the sauce slightly thickened, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Serve warm ladled into bowls.