This Beef Stew is the best version I’ve ever tasted, by far. It has rich flavors and texture, without any red wine or flour. It’s healthy and incredibly delicious!
“More people need this recipe” is what my friend said about this beef stew, and she is 100% right. It is crazy delicious and satisfying and everybody needs to try it.
And I say this as someone who has never particularly loved beef stew. Until now!
Goodness gracious it is good, with perfectly tender bites of chuck roast beef, a medley of root vegetables, herbs, and a bit of bacon…which trite as it may sound, does make everything better, including beef stew.
This recipe is adapted from a book called Cooking for Hormone Balance (affiliate). My dear friend Cara had taken a picture of the recipe page with her phone and texted it to me, and when people send me recipes, knowing that I develop recipes for a living, I take it pretty seriously.
And HOLY COW it knocked my socks off. I’ve since played with the recipe numerous times, adjusting ingredients and method and even cooking venue (both the Instapot and slow cooker renditions were inferior, by the way), until I ended up with this version.
Which as I said before, has earned “The Best I’ve Ever Had” status. Let’s dive in to the overview.
How to Make Beef Stew – the Prep:
There are a moderate amount of ingredients here, but this beef stew is actually pretty simple to prepare. It’s cooked completely on the stovetop, in one pan.
Soak the Mushrooms
Combine dried porcini mushrooms with water. This will sit and soak while you chop the vegetables.
When I first saw the original recipe calling for porcini mushrooms, I was a little put off, as it seemed like a specialty ingredient, and admittedly I haven’t cooked much with dried mushrooms.
But WOW they are delicious, and quite essential for this recipe. They are easier to find than I expected, and my local grocery (Whole Foods) carries them. You can also order online.
Prep the Vegetables:
The main vegetables here are carrot, celery, and onion, which are all expected, but there’s also a little parsnip thrown in there:
If you’re not familiar with parsnips, they are often described as like a spicier carrot. Not spicy like hot pepper spicy, but “spiced” like clove or cinnamon.
They’re one of the best root vegetables, and I’ve shared Roasted Parsnips on the blog before. Their delightful flavor is essential here.
You’ll see above that the parsnips are cut a lot smaller than the carrot and celery, as I like them to melt down a bit into the sauce, dispersing the flavor and texture consistently.
Strain the Mushrooms:
Place a coffee filter inside a strainer, and strain the mushrooms, catching the liquid in a glass:
The coffee filter is just there to catch any possible grit, but usually I don’t have an issue with this. You can see it in the bottom if there is any.
Chop the porcini mushrooms up finely, and you’ll also want to save the mushroom broth, which you can see is quite rich in color:
How to Make Beef Stew – the Cooking:
What Kind of Pan to Use for Beef Stew:
I recommend using dutch oven type enameled cookware for this recipe, if you have it. But you can use any big and wide heavy-bottomed pan.
Render Some Bacon:
Fry up some chopped bacon in your pan, until slightly crisp and the fat has rendered, which should take 8-10 minutes.
While the bacon is cooking, pat some beef chuck stew cubes dry with paper towel:
This removes excess moisture from the surface of the meat, which will give us a much better sear in the pan.
You can see the pieces I’m using are about 1,” and they came already cut from the butcher.
Just make sure that you are buying beef chuck roast, because sometimes they use less preferred cuts like london broil for the beef stew cubes.
Brown the Beef Stew Meat:
Remove the bacon bits from the pan, and brown the beef stew cubes in the leftover fat:
In my wide braiser I can sear everything in a single layer, but you may need to do two batches if you’re using a more upright pan.
Soften the Vegetables:
Remove the beef, then add the vegetables, and cook for about 10 minutes, until slightly softened:
Now add the beef back, along with any juices, the bacon, the porcini mushrooms AND its broth, beef bone broth, anchovy paste, and a bundle of fresh thyme, rosemary, and a bay leaf:
Anchovy paste might sound strange, but it adds a wonderful umami and saltiness that really deepens the flavor of the stew. I actually keep a tube of it on hand (no bones!) in the fridge for all sorts of things, including Caesar Salad.
I promise it does not make the beef stew taste fishy at all. I actually forget that it’s in there.
Stir everything around, so as many ingredients as possible are sitting in the liquid:
Simmer Everything Together:
Simmer the beef stew, covered, for about an hour, and it should look more or less like this:
The liquid will have reduced, and if you poke around with a fork, the vegetables should all be tender, and the beef cubes should be relatively tender too. It may look from the above photo that the liquid is gone, but if you stir, there’s actually plenty of broth left:
Sometimes I stop at this one hour point, as the beef is tender, with a slightly chewy bite to it, the vegetables are tender, and the flavor is rich and developed.
For a more shreddable texture to the beef, keep simmering, covered, for another 20-30 minutes. But know that the beef will become slightly drier. That’s not to say it will have an unpleasant texture, it’s still juicy, but not as much:
Give everything a good stir to coat everything in the sauce, then serve as desired.
You may have noticed, we do not thicken any sauce here. It’s unnecessary here, and I generally don’t enjoy flour or starch thickened sauces.
Try it as is, and I think you’ll enjoy it!
Slow Cooker Short Ribs is a similarly delicious recipe to try after you make the beef stew. The flavors are incredible. These Braised Chicken Thighs are also a great cozy recipe like this one, but using poultry.
Beef Stew Tips and FAQ:
How to Store Leftovers: Beef stew keeps wonderfully in the fridge for up to 5 days, or you can freeze it.
How to Freeze: Store in an airtight container for up to two months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Variations in Herbs: Other types of woody herbs can be swapped in here, though rosemary and thyme in my opinion are the very best. Sage or oregano are also nice with beef. Fresh herbs make all the difference, so try to use those over dried.
More Favorite Beef Recipes:
- 2 lbs beef chuck stew cubes 1" pieces
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (equal to 1/2lb fresh)
- 1 large yellow onion (ending up with 2.5 cups chopped)
- 2 large carrots (ending up with 2 cups chopped)
- 3 ribs celery (ending up with 1.5 cups chopped)
- 1 large parsnip (ending up with 1.25 cups chopped)
- 12 ounces bacon chopped
- 2 cups beef bone broth
- 1 tbsp anchovy paste
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- When you're ready to begin, start by removing the beef from the fridge and letting it sit at room temperature, uncovered, while you prep everything else, which should take about 30 minutes.
- Combine the porcini mushrooms in a bowl with 1.5 cups of hot water. Let soak for 20 minutes, while you prep the vegetables.
- Prep the vegetables: Peel and finely chop the yellow onion. For the carrots, peel if you prefer (I personally don't), then cut into 1" thick rounds. Cut the celery into 1" thick pieces. Both the celery and carrots should be in larger pieces, similar in size to the beef cubes. Finally, peel the parsnip, then finely dice into much smaller pieces than the carrots and celery. Unlike the carrot and celery where you want bigger pieces, the parsnip is best when it dissolves and melts into the sauce, so cut into smaller pieces about 1/2" big.
- Strain the soaked mushrooms through a coffee filter set inside a strainer, saving the liquid. Chop the porcini mushrooms finely.
- Cook: Heat a minimum 5-qt dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat, and add the bacon. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until the bacon bits are crisp and the fat has rendered. While the bacon cooks, pat the beef cubes dry with paper towel, to absorb as much excess moisture as possible. Then season with salt (I use 1 tsp total of kosher salt).
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a plate, then add the beef stew cubes in a single layer (if your pan isn't wide enough, you may need to do two batches). Brown the beef cubes on all sides, for 8-10 minutes, then remove to the bacon plate.
- Add the chopped onion, carrots, celery, and parsnip to the pan, along with 1/4 tsp of salt, and cook for 10 minutes, to soften slightly.
- Combine everything in the pan: Add back the browned beef, the bacon, plus any juices from the plate, the chopped mushrooms along with the strained juices, plus the bone broth, anchovy paste, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Then cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for one hour over medium low heat.
- At the one hour mark, check things with a fork, and give the beef a taste. Usually the vegetables are tender, the flavors are rich and developed, and the beef cubes are tender enough to eat, though will likely have a little chew to them. Sometimes I stop here and enjoy. If you wish to have a more shreddable texture, cover and continue cooking for another 20-30 minutes, but know that the beef cubes will be slightly less juicy.
- Once the beef and vegetables are tender, do a final taste to check that the seasoning is right. Because of the salt in the anchovy paste and the bone broth, I find it is usually well-seasoned. The beef stew is ready to serve and enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.