Old Fashioned Beef Stew

Last week, I decided to proffer a farewell to winter and welcome in spring with a classic beef stew. Although my original choice for a recipe, one from Sally Schmitt’s Six California Kitchens, appealed to me for its simplicity, on second look, its lack of a thickener for a gravy and its relatively quick time for cooking the vegetables (15 minutes on high) after simmering the meat on the stove for two hours gave me some pause. Eventually, a search through my bookshelves led me to a similar recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook that addressed my concerns with the first and required only a little more effort. That it called for oven rather than stove-top cooking made it even more attractive.

Except for substituting Yukon gold potatoes for small reds and fresh thyme for dried, I pretty much followed the recipe as written. It yielded a succulent stew, with tender beef and perfectly cooked vegetables enveloped in a sauce full of beef flavors and enriched by the wine and aromatics. Served with a crusty French baguette, it provided the perfect dish to bid adieu to the cold and frost of winter.

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew (adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook)



1 boneless beef chuck roast, about 3 pounds, trimmed and cut into 1 ½ inch chunks.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 onions, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup full-bodied red, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1lb Yukon gold potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch chunks
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


1. Heat oven to 300°F with a rack in the middle of the oven.

2. Dry beef well, and season with salt and pepper.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven.

4. Brown meat, in batches if necessary, on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, adding remaining oil if necessary.

Browning Beef

5.Transfer meat to a platter and cover loosely with foil.

Transferred to a plate

6. Add onions to the pot and cook until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Adding onions
Cooking onions until soft

7. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic, and cook until fragrant about 30 seconds.

Adding garlic

8. Stir in flour and cook until lightly colored, about 2 minutes.

Adding flour
Cooking flour

9. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

Adding wine
Scraping up browned bits

10. Add broth, bay leaves, and thyme and bring to a simmer.

Broth, bay leaves, and time added

11. Return the browned meat to the pot, along with any residual juices, and bring to a simmer.

Returning meat and juices to the pan
Bringing to a simmer

12. Cover and place in the oven and cook for 1 hour.

13. Remove the pot from the oven, add the potatoes and carrots; cover, and return to the oven.

After first hour
Adding potatoes and carrots
Distributing the vegetables

14. Cook for about another hour, or until the meat is tender. Remove the pot from the oven.

15. Stir in the thawed peas and let stand for 5 minutes.

16. Stir in parsley and taste for seasoning.

17. Serve in warmed bowls.


Wine Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel

3 thoughts on “Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

  1. That looks fantastic, Roland. Beef stew is such an underrated meal and this version looks exceptional. The addition of peas is not something we have seen before but will try it out. Thanks for these wonderful posts!

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