All-American Beef Stew

All-American Beef Stew
  • Yield:Serves 6
  • Active time:1 1/2 hours
  • Total time:3 1/2 hours
  • Rated: 4.5

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

You know that scene in the movie where the nerdy hero or heroine finds inner confidence and suddenly becomes much more interesting and much more attractive to the rest of the world? That hero is beef stew and its time for confidence is now. The beef stew of my dreams starts with large tender, juicy chunks of beef coated in a sauce that is rich and intense but not heavy or muddy (and that sauce had better be clean and glistening). It has vegetables that are more than just filler, but bring a complementary texture and flavor to the party. After dozens of pounds of stewed beef and scores of experiments, we've got the recipe.

Editor's Note: This recipe originally called for an oven temperature of 275°F, which has worked for us through dozens of rounds of testing in multiple kitchens and ovens. But based on reader feedback, it has become clear that some home ovens are too unreliable at such a low temperature, leading to greatly prolonged cooking times. To address this, we've increased the oven temperature to 300°F.

Why It Works

Our all-American beef stew is extra beefy. Read the Whole Story
  • Searing the meat in large steaks gives you browned flavor without overcooking or steaming.
  • Gelatin adds body to the sauce without muddying flavors while umami-rich ingredients add depth.
  • Using two batches of vegetables ensure optimum flavor and texture in the finished dish.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock (950mL)
  • 4 packets powdered unflavored gelatin (1 ounce; 30g)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (2.5 ounces; 75g)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (15ml)
  • 3 oil- or salt-packed anchovy filets, rinsed (or 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (15ml)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds (1.25kg) whole boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 3 steaks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 ounces white button mushroom, quartered
  • 4 medium carrots (10 ounces; 275g), 2 left whole, 2 cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 ounces frozen or fresh pearl onions (thawed if frozen, peeled if fresh) (225g)
  • 1 large yellow onion, unpeeled, split in half (10 ounces; 275g)
  • 2 small stalks celery (3 ounces; 85g)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 cup sherry, dry vermouth, or red wine (8 ounces; 235mL)
  • 2 tablespoons flour (about 3/4 ounces 20g)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed (450g)
  • 4 ounces frozen peas

Directions

  1. 1.

    Combine stock, gelatin, tomato paste, soy sauce, anchovies, and Worcestershire sauce in a blender and blend on high speed until homogenous. Set aside.

  2. 2.

    Adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 300°F. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season beef all over with salt and pepper and add to Dutch oven. Cook, turning occasionally, until beef is well browned on 2 sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer beef to a rimmed baking sheet or large plate and set aside.

  3. 3.

    Add mushrooms to Dutch oven and cook, stirring, until liquid is released and mushrooms begin to brown, about 6 minutes, lowering heat as necessary to prevent scorching. Add diced carrots and pearl onions and cook, stirring, until well-browned on all sides. Season to taste with salt and pepper then transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  4. 4.

    Add halved yellow onion to Dutch oven, cut-side-down. Add whole carrots, celery sticks, and garlic. Cook, turning carrots, celery, and garlic occasionally until all the vegetables are well-browned, about 4 minutes.

  5. 5.

    Add wine or sherry, scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon, and cook until reduced by 3/4, about 3 minutes. Add broth mixture and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.

  6. 6.

    Cut seared steaks into 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with flour. Add beef and any juices accumulated in the tray or plate to the Dutch oven along with bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Stir to combine and return to a simmer over medium heat. Transfer to oven, cover with lid partially open, and cook until beef is starting to become tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Liquid should be at a slow, steady simmer the entire time. Adjust oven temperature if necessary during cooking.

  7. 7.

    Remove stew from oven. Using tongs, fish out and discard carrot, celery, thyme, bay leaves, onion, and garlic. Add potatoes and reserved sautéed mushroom, pearl onions, and carrots to stew, return to oven, and continue to cook, partially covered, until beef, potatoes, and carrots are tender and broth has thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  8. 8.

    Remove stew from oven. If necessary, place over a burner and simmer for up to 15 minutes to reduce to desired consistency. Stir in peas. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately, or let cool overnight or for up to 5 days and reheat to serve.