|A savory southern beef stew, made from chunks of seasoned and caramelized chuck roast, a mixture of beef stock and water, loads of herbs, potatoes, celery and carrots, rich and just full of flavor.|
Homemade Southern Beef StewLike 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 canola 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 - grab some up at the store if you haven't tried it yet! Look how rich it is. You can't get that with dry bouillon.
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, vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 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, cooked 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.
Can also substitute about 5 medium sized red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into chunks. You need a good sear on the beef. The meat will release from the pan on it's own when it's ready to be turned so if it is sticking it's not ready! Just let it cook just a bit longer. Don’t crowd the meat in the pan either or it will end up steaming instead of searing.
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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