Make and share this Five Hour Beef Stew recipe from Bad Foodie.
Since I posted the call for pumpkin recipes, I’ve been busily testing the new dishes. Some of them have been successes, and some have been failures. Recently, failures have been winning the race. I even tried to kill my family with undercooked chicken in a totally non-pumpkin-related incident. (Salmonella is not good eats.) It hasn’t been a good food week in the Bad Foodie household.
When life curdles your lemons, it’s time to turn to an old stand-by. One of those never-fail recipes handed down through the generations. Something even a newbie can’t screw up. Checking the fall weather, that means it’s time for Mammaw’s Five Hour Beef Stew.
Five hours sounds like a long time to spend on a dish, but one of the beauties of this particular stew is that it practically makes itself. You throw everything in a pot and stick it in the oven. As long as you can stand to leave it there untouched for 5-8 hours when you open the pot, you’ll have a batch of the most comforting stew on the planet. Tender beef, perfect vegetables and a house that smells so amazing, it will be a wonder if people don’t wander in off the street asking for a bowl.
Start with the right beef. This stew is a braise – meat cooked in a small amount of liquid for a long time at low heat. The low, slow cooking process produces meat that is tender and juicy in a broth full of unctuous goodness. Don’t use an expensive cut of meat for this dish. You want a cheaper cut with lots of connective tissue that will break down in the oven. If I have a little time, I buy chuck and cut it into 1” chunks myself, but if I’m in a hurry, 2 lbs of pre-packaged “stew meat” will do just fine.
Once you have the beef, feel free to play fast and loose with the other ingredients. Mammaw’s original recipe calls for two ribs of celery – but since I hate celery, I just skip that. You can add herbs and spices to your liking, or add some parsnips or turnips. Maybe throw in some frozen peas or corn at the end. This is a very forgiving recipe.
Ingredients for Five Hour Beef Stew:
- 2 pounds beef chuck, shoulder or stew meat, cut in 1” cubes
- 3 TB all purpose flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 lb red skinned potatoes, cut in bite-size pieces
- 2 cups chopped carrots or whole mini carrots
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes – undrained
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 2 tsp bottled minced garlic. (Yes, I use this. It’s fine.)
- 1 quart beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups sliced button or cremini mushrooms (optional)
- 2 strips thick cut bacon (optional)
- 1 cup red wine (optional)
1 – five quart Dutch oven or soup pot with a tight-fitting lid
(This may be the simplest method ever*)
Add all ingredients to the pot. Cover tightly with the lid. Cook in a 250-degree oven for 5-8 hours. NO PEEKING! I’m serious – leave the lid on until you’re ready to serve. Your patience will be rewarded.
Remove the bay leaves and spent bacon pieces before serving with biscuits or a nice crusty loaf of French bread.
Makes 8 hearty servings. Leftovers reheat well. Keeps for a week in the refrigerator, or frozen for up to three months.
You can make this recipe gluten-free by substituting 2 TB tapioca powder for the flour.
*If you have time, you can brown the meat on the stove top in small batches before adding the rest of the ingredients. Just add a small amount of oil to the bottom of the pan, and cook the beef over medium-high heat until brown on all sides. Do this in 3-4 batches so as not to crowd the pan. This step will add a little extra flavor to the dish, but if you don’t have time, your stew will still be great.
I don’t recommend cooking this in a crockpot. Most modern crock pots simply cook at too high a temperature – even on the low setting. Your beef won’t end up quite as tender, and your vegetables will likely be mush by dinner time. I have plenty of great crock-pot recipes, but that’s another lesson.
In the meantime, why don’t you whip up a batch of Mammaw’s Five Hour Beef Stew and let me know how it goes?