Slow Cooked Beef Stew- A Classic Comfort Food Recipe

I always crave comfort food in the winter time, but right now as a nation and a global community, it looks as though we could all use a lot of comforting, whether it’s through the gathering together of a community or our small family meals we need to be there for one another and offer support, a lending ear or a shoulder to lean on. To all of those affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and everyone affected around the world by crimes of violence, my prayers, thoughts and sincere condolences are with you…

Beef Stew in Crock Pot

The smell and taste of my mom’s recipe for classic beef stew is one that has been with me since I was a small child. Although she was a working mom, on her shorter days or days off she would often begin making it early in the morning and put it in the crock pot to cook all day long so it would be ready by the time I arrived home from school. I still remember all of the ingredients by heart  and how they looked on the kitchen counter as she prepared it. I also remember being in a bit of awe as to how it would all fit so neatly into her round crock pot with the glass cover that eventually began to steam underneath. Later in the day she made white rice on the side, which indicated that it was almost time to eat since that was the last thing to do before getting ready to serve what to me was the ultimate comfort: knowing exactly what to expect in this meal and feeling cared for, loved and comforted through every bite. 

raw meat for beef stew

Start out with high quality halal beef cubes. Ask your butcher for stew meat and to cut it into medium-size pieces. That way, if they’re a little larger than you like, you can always cut them a little smaller. If they start out too small, the meat could end up tough.

cut ingredients for beef stew

There are some very basic ingredients in this recipe, which is why it’s considered so classic: onions, garlic, potatoes and carrots (plus peas and a little bit of tomato, which are added at the end, if you like)

carrots for blog post on beef stew

I like to cut the carrots as pictured above, just my own style but you can cut them another way. It’s just me trying to make them match the shape of the meat, if possible.

two types of broth

I also like to add vegetable broth to this recipe, but you can use chicken broth instead if you like. Either way, add some sort of rich stock to enhance the flavor and get the most nutritional benefit out of this dish.

bag of frozen peas

I use frozen peas, which are dropped right into this dish towards the end, frozen. No need to defrost or they could get mushy.

olive oil for the beef stew

There are a couple of ways to get this dish started and finish it off, so I will explain each briefly but just know that I finished this dish off in the crock pot because I cooked it overnight- I don’t like to leave appliances on during the day if I’m not home. Plus, we get some awesome aromas in our sleep…

So, you can start out by heating up the oil in either a Dutch oven or a cast iron skillet. There are a couple of reasons I’m showing you both: 1) meat cooks wonderfully in cast iron, but you can’t finish off this dish is such a shallow pan.

heat the cast iron pan

2) A Dutch oven is great to either start the meat plus the vegetables or finish off the dish entirely without even getting out a crock pot.

3) You shouldn’t start out this dish in a crock pot because it will not get hot enough to saute the meat the way it needs.

I hope I haven’t confused you.

flour the meat for the beef stew

So, once your meat is cut the preferred size, you’ll dredge it in flour. I don’t do this piece by piece because that would take forever. Instead, I get a deep bowl and throw a bunch of the meat into the flour. Okay, I don’t really throw it, but you know what I mean.

flour the meat for the beef stew up close

But first, you must make sure the meat is  dry (paper towels are perfecto for this); If it’s not dry, you’ll have a big pasty mess. Trust me.

flour the meat and begin to fry

And it will not cook nicely if it’s not floured well. Some people dip the meat in a beaten egg first, but I’ve never found the need to do that because even though the meat is dry before adding to the flour, there is enough texture on it to grab onto the flour.

let meat brown on one side

It smells amazing when it goes into the hot oil, but don’t eat any of it- you’re not going to cook it fully at this point. Just brown it on all sides.

let meat drain on paper towels

Drain it on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

add cut ingredients with parsley

Now here’s where things get a little tricky, but a very important step to follow because you’ll be capturing a lot of flavor here. See all that brown goodness underneath the veggies? That’s the meat flavor and flour texture, which in turn lends to not just amazing flavor but the flour also thickens the dish… so this is what you need to scrape and collect to put back into the dish. Don’t get rid of it!  Instead, use a tough wooden spoon to scrape the goodness up off the bottom, but not ruin your pan in the meantime.

add onions and garlic

Next, add the onion and garlic to the pot. They go in after the other veggies because they’re too delicate and could burn easily if added too soon.

onions cooking with other ingredients

If you have a tough time scraping up anything, you can add a little broth to the pot just to help you out, then move it all around with the veggies and on top of them. Then add the meat.

Cubes of Beef for Stew

Now add more broth

add vegetable broth

Just enough to barely cover the meat

Simmering the ingredients for Beef Stew

All the while, continue scraping the bottom of the pan and stirring it back into the dish. Add 2 tablespoons of diced tomatoes, if desired. Bring it all to a boil.

after about an hour of cooking

Then reduce and let it simmer.

second beef stew up close

Now transfer it to a crock pot or leave it in the Dutch oven. It should simmer for at least 5-6 hours.

add peas frozen

About 20 minutes before serving, add the frozen peas directly into the pot.

Golden Beef Stew

The meat should be nice and tender and the potatoes and carrots incredibly soft.

bowl of beef stew

Eat as-is (it’s very filling this way), or on top of a bed of rice or cooked egg noodles. At this point, it’s very versatile and all depends on how much longer you can wait to eat it…

What’s your ultimate comfort food dish?

 

Slow Cooked Beef Stew

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef stew cubes, dredged in flour
  • olive oil or grape seed oil for sautéeing
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • bay leaves, crushed (optional)
  • 4 cups Saffron Road’s Classic Culinary Vegetable Broth
  • 2 tablespoons crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Directions

Dredge beef cubes in flour and set aside.

Heat oil in cast iron pan or Dutch oven.

Sauté beef cubes and flour in the oil to brown on each side. Remove meat and place on a paper towel-lined plate or dish to absorb excess oil.

Add a little more oil to the pot and sauté the carrots and potatoes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to make sure the remaining flour from the meat is incorporated into the stew, allowing it to become thick. Add the onions and garlic.

Add broth to just below the level of the meat and potatoes. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Bring to a boil for several minutes then reduce heat to a simmer and cover, cooking for about 5-6 hours or until the meat is so tender it can be cut with a spoon. If using a crock pot, transfer the dish after it has boiled and been reduced to a simmer.

Add frozen peas about 20 minutes before serving and stir in thoroughly.

Remove from heat and serve on top of your favorite sticky {brown} rice.

 

*Saffron Road Foods provided the broths for this recipe as part of our partnership and my role as a brand ambassador for their quality halal products*

2 comments

  1. Hmm, perfect dish for Chicago’s cold winter days. I can almost imagine Nora making the stew in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing your beautiful memories and the detailed recipe. I miss you all.
    Inci
    Houston, TX

  2. Yummy!!! I’ll be making this tomorrow in Shaa Allah. Thanks for sharing…hope you and your family are well
    xoxo

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