There is nothing like a bowl of good ol’ beef stew on a cold winter day, but it can be a chore to prepare. This simple beef stew recipe makes cooking process a lot easier, without sacrificing the taste.
My biggest challenge with making a beef stew is browning beef. You normally have to do it in batches, which adds quite a bit to hands-on cooking time. It’s also messy with all the oil splashing around. If not careful, the beef may also dry out. My solution is to skip beef browning step altogether. Instead, I brown onions and garlic. This will add a lot of flavor, but will be quicker and a lot less messy. Most of the cooking is done in the oven, in a cast iron pot or a Dutch oven, uncovered. This will allow the meat at the top caramelize during cooking and get some additional flavor.
I also like to add some Belgian brown ale to the stew for its deep, complex flavors, but without the excessive bitterness of Guinness stout. If you like Guinness, use it instead. But if you are like me, who likes less bitterness, a good dark Belgian ale is the way to go. My favorite is Leffe Brune, but it can be any dark, malty ale. You can also use a stout, as long as it’s not too bitter (International Bittering Units (IBU) less than 25). Cooking can really dull all those beautiful malty beer flavors, but if you add a portion of the beer near the end of cooking that will not be an issue.
Simple Beef Stew with Brown Ale
- 3 lbs boneless beef chuck roast trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 - 2 inch pieces
- 3 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 1/2 cups one 12-oz bottle Belgian dark ale (Leffe Brune is my favorite)
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes scrubbed and washed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound carrots peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
- 2 Bay leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Heat oil in cast iron pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until well browned.
- Add garlic, tomato paste and continue cooking for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in flour and continue cooking for another 1 minute.
- Add broth, 1 cup Belgian ale and sugar. Stir well. Bring to simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Add beef and return to simmer. Transfer to preheated oven and cook, uncovered, for 90 minutes. Give the stew a good stir halfway through cooking.
- Put on your oven mitts and carefully remove the stew from the oven. Stir in potatoes, carrots, celery and Bay leaves. Make sure the liquid covers all the vegetables. Cover. Continue cooking, covered, until the beef and the vegetables are tender, about 90 minutes. Give the stew a good stir halfway through cooking. You can also bring the stew to simmer on the stove before returning it to the oven, this will save about 30 minutes in the oven.
- Add in the remaining half cup Belgian ale, parsley and dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir will and serve immediately.