Completely from scratch delicious and hearty beef stew, just like Mom used to make it.
Week four of our February soups and stews series, and we are finally getting to my favorite recipe of the bunch, Mom’s Sunday Stew. I’ve mentioned before that my family doesn’t have a ton of legacy recipes. We cooked regularly when I was a kid, but it was from a very limited rotation of recipes, and most of them were things like, open a bottle of spaghetti sauce and pour over noodles with hamburger. This stew is one of the few completely from scratch recipes I was raised with, so it’s very dear to my heart.
And when I say completely from scratch, I mean from scratch. There’s no beef broth, no packets of flavoring mix, no consommé in here. It’s beef chuck, vegetables, a little oil, water, and a couple hours of long, low simmering time. And you can’t beat it. You can add all the artificial flavor in the world, but nothing is going to beat the rich flavor of a stew that is given time to cook the way stew was meant to be cooked.
Don’t let the long cooking time turn you off either. I mean, you’re not going to want to make it on a busy weeknight or coming home after a long day at work when all you want is a glass of wine and something in your belly, but it’s perfect for a lazy Sunday at home because all that cooking time is mostly hands-off. All you have to do is check the water level once in a while, add the veggies toward the end, and enjoy an afternoon where the house is filled with the most amazing smell of a home-cooked meal.
Mom's Sunday Beef Stew
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper divided
- 1-1 1/2 pounds stew meat cubed, beef chuck
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12-14 cups filtered water divided
- 3-4 medium carrots peeled and sliced 1 to 2-inch thick*
- 3-4 celery stalks sliced 1 to 2-inch thick*
- 1/2 large onion
- 2 pounds red potatoes cubed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
Brown the Meat
In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper together. Dredge stew meat in the flour, coating completely. Set flour aside.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the meat and cook until just browned. If necessary, you can add a little more oil to the pot or a bit of water to keep the meat from burning.
Once meat is browned, add 4 cups of water. In a large bowl or measuring cup, mix another four cups of water with 1/4 cup of the reserved flour mixture. Whisk until no lumps remain and then stir into your meat mixture.
- Bring to a boil and reduce temperature so your meat is cooking at a low boil.
Cook for a Really Long Time
Set your timer for 80 minutes and walk away. Check on the stew every 20 minutes or so, giving it a stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom and adding water when necessary. I usually add about 4 cups of water to the stew during this cooking period.
- Add your onion, celery, and carrots. Stir and check water level. Set the timer for 20 minutes. Walk away.
Add potatoes, basil, oregano, whole bay leaf, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Check water level. I usually have to add a cup or more of water at this point. Set timer for 15 minutes.
- The stew is done when your potatoes are fork tender. Taste test and add more salt if necessary (a salty stew is a good stew). Remove bay leaf. Dish and allow to cool in bowls for at least 5 minutes (or on the stove for at least 15) before serving.
*If you like softer carrots and celery in your stew, like I do, slice into 1-inch pieces. Like firm veggies? 2-inch is the way to go.
Nutritional Information (5 servings)
Small-yield Instructions: This recipe halves cleanly and no prep or cooking changes are needed.
Freezer Notes: I don’t love to freeze this stew because of the high volume of potatoes (they become slightly mealy), but you can freeze it in an air-tight container for up to four months.