If there’s an ultimate comfort food in this world, especially in winter, it would have to be old fashioned beef stew. I grew up eating Dinty Moore brand, and I LOVED it, but that’s because I didn’t know any better! Once I was old enough to follow a recipe, I learned how to make it for myself, and I’ve NEVER looked back. My grandmother bought me an old Cook Book when I first got married many many years ago, and she told me that the recipe for beef stew was the one she used herself. My motto is: Always Trust Your Grandmother. Especially when you are named after her…
Let’s be honest – making any sort of soup or stew from scratch is going to take some time and effort. But this is as simple and easy a recipe as you could ask for.
2 lbss stew beef
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 C beef stock
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
Dash ground cloves (or ground allspice)
2 C carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 Tbsp cornstarch
To begin with, and this you should do with ANY slow-cooked meat, brown meat in hot oil. Get it all nice and browned all over the outside. Then, add water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and ground cloves. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours.
Next, remove the bay leaves. Add carrots and celery. Cover and cook 30 to 40 additional minutes.
To thicken gravy, remove 2 cups of hot liquid. Using a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch until smooth. Mix with a little hot liquid and return mixture to pot. Stir and cook until bubbly. It is REALLY important that your cornstarch mixture is really smooth. Any lumps in there will form into little dumplings in the stew. This isn’t the end of the world, but it kind of ruins the effect. Of course, if you WANT to make dumplings, that’s another story!
Sometimes, I will make the stew up in a big pot, and instead of thickening it with cornstarch, I will open a can of biscuits and separate them out into the hot stew. After 20 minutes or so, they have cooked through and make EXCELLENT dumplings!
Really, though, on its own this stew is top notch. It really hits the spot when you want something hot and filling on a cold winter evening. It is so totally worth the effort it takes to cook.
What’s your favorite winter recipe?