It is bone-chilling cold in San Francisco this week, and at times like these, I yearn for warm stews and soups.  It’s really comforting to warm up with a steaming bowl of stew on a cold winter night.

Marcy Rosenthal, holistic health counselor and one of our top recipe contributors, was reading my mind when she sent in her recipe for Beef Stew.  Our recipes are very similar – for example, hers uses tomato paste and I use diced tomatoes; hers uses balsamic vinegar and I use red wine, etc. 

I loved Marcy’s suggestion to use baby onions that you see in bags of white, yellow, and red, which weren’t available when I originally wrote my recipe (my original version is in our new portable cookbook, The Trader Joe’s Companion).  And that’s the great thing about stews – they’re very flexible, so I often experiment and substitute whatever vegetables and herbs I have on hand.

The other great thing about stews, and part of the reason they’re popular around the globe, is that the slow cook method allows you to use inexpensive cuts of meat that would otherwise be tough.  After a few prep steps, you can leave the stew unattended while it simmers and fills the kitchen with aromas.  You can cook it over low heat on the stovetop, or in the oven like Marcy does.  Either way, the end result will be a delicious, thick stew your whole family is sure to love.

Serve with fresh biscuits or crusty bread to mop up the wonderful gravy.

Beef Stew Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 (approx 1.5 lb) pkg beef stew meat, or beef chuck cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, or 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth (use 3 cups if using tomato paste instead of diced tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup red wine or 1.5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp Steak Sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed, or 2 cubes frozen Crushed Garlic (use up to 4 cloves if you like garlic)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 large onion, chopped, or 1 1/2 cups tiny onions
  • 1 lb Teeny Tiny Potatoes, or potatoes cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks or 1/2 bag baby carrots
  • 2 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces, or 2 cups frozen peas (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. If you plan to bake the stew, preheat oven to 350° degrees.  Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Lightly salt meat and dredge in flour, shaking off excess.  Sear meat in hot oil until browned, about 1 minute per side.  Browning meat seals in juices, for more tender meat.  Don’t overcrowd the pot or you’ll steam rather than brown the meat.  Cook in 2-3 batches.
  2. Return seared meat to pot. Add remaining ingredients (except green beans and parsley) and stir.  When liquid is boiling, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 2 hours.  If you prefer to bake, place covered pot in oven for 1.5-2 hours, making sure to use an oven-proof pot.
  3. Add green beans during last 15 minutes of cooking to preserve crispness.  For softer green beans, add during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  4. Remove from heat and remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs.  Sprinkle on fresh parsley right before serving.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Hands-off cooking time: 2 hours
Serves 6