Monday, December 14, 2009

Homemade Southern Beef Stew

A savory southern beef stew, made from chunks of seasoned chuck roast, a mixture of beef stock and water, loads of herbs, potatoes, celery and carrots, rich and loaded with flavor.

Homemade Southern Beef Stew

Like creamy butter beans, Homemade Southern Beef Stew is another one of those belly warmin', budget stretchin' meals that's pretty popular this time of year. The weather this weekend was absolutely perfect for it too.

This is an old standby beef stew recipe that I've used since the late 70s and have made very few changes to the basic recipe since then. I have always used shortening since those days - you know... old dog, new tricks and all - but you can certainly substitute some cooking oil or even bacon fat if you prefer. I just always manage to find myself reaching for the Crisco when I make this for some reason. Nostalgia, maybe?

This is a wonderfully savory stew, with loads of herbs (use fresh if you have them), rich and just full of flavor. I like searing the meat with my stew because I believe that the caramelization really contributes to the richness. And Julia was right - wipe the beef dry with a paper towel first to pull out any leftover moisture - you want a nice caramelization on the beef and dry beef is essential to that. Don't try to sear all of the meat at once either. You'll overcrowd the pan and your meat will steam more than sear, so brown the meat in batches. Make sure you deglaze that pan afterwards to scrap up all of those yum-yums!

You can also use a variety of potatoes of course - I most often find myself using russets or red potatoes - sometimes peeled, sometimes unpeeled - because that is the type of potato that I usually have on hand. You can certainly substitute your own favorite potato. While it is optional, I also love using Better than Bouillon in this stew and in my beef soups. It's a pantry staple for me. Look how rich it is. You can't get that from bouillon cubes.

Dig in!

Recipe: Homemade Southern Beef Stew

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 2 hours 30 min | Yield: About 6 servings

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, bacon fat, or cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 pound chuck roast, cut into chunks
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 toes of garlic, minced
  • 2 (32 ounce) cartons of beef stock or broth
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of Better than Bouillon beef base, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • Hot, steamed rice

Heat oil over a medium to medium high heat in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot. Cut the meat into chunks about 1-inch in size and dry them off well with paper towels. Mix together flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and toss the beef in batches, lightly coating with the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and in batches, drop the beef into the shortening and brown. Remove the meat and set aside, cooking the beef in batches until all of it is browned.

Add the sliced onion to the pot and cook until lightly caramelized, adding additional oil to the skillet if needed. Toss in garlic and cook for one minute. Add enough of the beef stock into the pot just to deglaze the pan.  Return the seared beef to the pot, add the remaining beef broth, the water and beef base; bring to a boil. Stir the thyme, rosemary, celery seed, basil, paprika and Cajun seasoning into the pot. Reduce to a medium simmer, drop in the bay leaves and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours.

Add the carrots and potatoes, bring back up to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook an additional 15  minutes; taste and adjust seasonings. In a 2 cup measure, whisk together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of milk until blended.  Spoon some of the liquid from the stew into the cornstarch and milk mixture and whisk in.  Pour into the stew and stir until blended.  Cook another 5 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender and stew has thickened. Serve over hot rice with hot buttered biscuits, cornbread or homemade yeast rolls.

Cook's Notes: Don’t crowd the meat in the pan during browning or it will end up steaming instead of searing.Can also substitute about 5 medium sized red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into chunks. Cooking time at the end will depend on what type of potato you are using, so take care not to overcook the potatoes. You don't want them to turn into mush, but rather to be just cooked through, but still slightly firm.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on December 14, 2009

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  1. Looks really good Mary. I made a pot roast the other day. You know, I never used milk with corn starch to thicken. I'm going to try that next time. Thanks again for the Pom. It is great, and may not make it into a prepared dish I like it so well!

  2. Mmmmm that looks delicious! Am making this tomorrow!

  3. Uummm..looks yummy Mary, kinda like after you eat it, you gonna need a nap!

  4. This has everything that I love in a beef stew! It looks delicious and I dig all of those spices! I bet it made for such a satisfying meal. Sort of jealous right now...we had grilled cheese for dinner.

  5. What a super recipe! Looks like we have some cooler weather headed our way so I may have a chance to finally make something hot and comforting!

  6. This is perfect looking stew, Mary; just what I need today with our artic front moving through! It's cold! Stew is one of my most favorite cold weather dishes-perfect comfort food it is!

  7. This is a great looking stew... stew over rice is a great combo

    this is a keeper!

  8. Mary,
    What store do you shop at? I live in MS too- (Brandon) and I went to find the better than bouillon and slap yo mama and cound not find either. This was at Kroger, have not checked Wal-Mart. Thanks!

  9. Hey Jennifer! The Better than Bouillon I buy at good old Walmart. I can't recall if they carry the SYM seasoning, but you can substitute pretty much any another Cajun or Creole seasoning - like Tony Chachere's. I just prefer the Slap Ya Mama blend and I'm lucky enough to find that at a local Louisiana based market called Rouse's.

  10. I didnt follow this recipe exactly but I did use the better than bullion and chuck roast instead and it came out amazing! Thank you so much for posting

  11. Thanks so much Stephy! I'm so glad y'all enjoyed it and I appreciate you taking the time to come back and leave a comment. HUGS!!

  12. Made this tonight. It was really good! I do suggest using regular beef low sodium. I used 1 low and 1 regular and ended up having to add about 6 more turns of salt anyway. This was a winner. A little time consuming but well worth it.

  13. Absolutely fantastic! I added a wee bit of V8 juice, maybe a 1/3 cup, just because I had some. I LOVE this recipe, so glad I found your blog! <3

  14. Thanks Rachel and welcome!! Love the addition of V8. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop back by and leave a comment - I appreciate that!

  15. *Apologies if this is a double post, Typepad is being uppity*

    I made this stew today, and Mary? There are no words. I must offer you my first-born!

    This site has really become my introduction to Western cookery. I'm pretty confident with Asian and Middle Eastern food, but I was a bit reluctant to try Western cooking as I thought it would be a bit bland. Hah! Foolish, foolish me. Each time I make something from this site, I am proven (deliciously) wrong.

    Thanks so very much for this site, Mary. I only started cooking last year, and your recipes are so clear and the photos so instructive, I've never been left tearing at my hair and wondering how exactly to beat something GENTLY, or cook til "ready".

  16. Thank you so much Frances!! I do try to write my recipes somewhere between the beginner & the seasoned cook & hope that I don't insult anybody along the way!! I really appreciate you coming back by to leave such a sweet comment. Thanks so much for being a loyal reader!!

  17. This is a terrific recipe! Family enjoyed it and are calling it the "beef gumbo!" It was a hit.

  18. Making this today for the Bronco game here in's very cold outside...already smells so good!! thanks for the recipe! :)

    1. Today is actually the first day that we were out of the mid to upper 80s for a change - so we actually got a little taste of Fall! I hope that the stew went over well.

  19. Oh and serving it over rice is a first for us!! great idea :)

    1. I know it may seem redundant to some folks, but we have always served our stew over rice, so it's normal for us! Enjoy!!

    2. We always poured ours over fresh cornbread.

  20. Wow! Made this tonight. I didn't have enough Beef stock, so I mixed half beef and half vegetable bouillon. In addition to the carrots and potatoes, I added mushrooms and celery, and I used a homemade dry rub instead of the cajun spice. It was - in short - amazing! We all ate it up with some homemade biscuits. Exactly what I was hoping for! Thanks so much for posting it.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it Cory - and thanks so much for taking the time to come back and let me know!! Happy New Year!

  21. Mary,
    This is soooo delicious; best I've ever tasted!
    Thank you!

  22. Hi Mary,

    The beef stew recipe sounds pretty close to mine except I add a med. to large rutabaga diced into small pieces. I learned this from my Aunt many years ago and it gives it a great flavor. How much rutabaga depends on how big the pot of stew. If you are making a large pot like a dutch oven, use a large rutabaga. Med. pot med. rutabaga.


  23. I'm glad you had this on Facebook and I saw it. This is definitely going on my list to try soon!! It will be good because that's what your recipes are!! Pinning it!!

    1. Hi Mary, I'm trying to catch up on going back and making comments on recipes I've tried and liked....This is one of them!! I print them when I try them and make notes if I change anything and if it's a keeper. It IS a KEEPER!! Thanks again!! Pinning to my TRIED IT & LIKED IT board!

    2. I'm so glad Kim! I love this stew too!!

  24. Instead of searing meat in the pan I spread out put the chunks of meat in a preheated roasting pan and pop that into a preheated 500F oven for say 25-30 minutes. You get a similar carmelization effect as searing on the stove top, just without having to turn the meat.

  25. Doesn't need to be cold to try out this wonderful looking stew, you come through once again. Thanks

    1. That is so true Diane! We eat beans and stews, gumbo & all those goodies year round for sure.


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