This hearty Simple Beef Stew is made completely from scratch and is absolutely delicious, just like Mom used to make it.
This post has been updated. Don’t worry. You’re in the right place. 🙂
It’s week four of my February soups and stews series, and after Broccoli Chowder, some easy Chicken Taco Soup, and the fabulous Ham and Potato Soup, we are finally getting to my favorite recipe of the bunch, Mom’s Sunday Simple Beef 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 simple beef 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 (wonderfully cheap) 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. Enjoy with some crusty bread or cheddar scones and you have a perfect Sunday dinner.
Simple Beef Stew Recipe Notes
- For the best (and usually cheapest) stew meat, skip the package of cut up “Stew Meat” in the meat department (you never know what odds and ends you are getting in those) and buy a cheap 1 1/2 to 2-pound chuck roast. Cut off any large pieces of fat and then hack the thing to pieces. It only takes a couple minutes, and you will end up with tender chunks of meat that practically melt in your mouth after stewing.
- Salt, salt, salt! Once you start adding your vegetables, check your salt level at every step. You will be surprised at how much you need, especially once you add the potatoes.
- LET YOUR STEW COOL BEFORE EATING! This sounds silly to write, but I have this fight with friends and family every time I make stew for them. I know it smells heavenly and you want to try it NOW, but when your stew is done cooking, turn it off, remove it from heat and walk away for at least 15 minutes. You cannot appreciate the flavors of the stew when it is also scalding the taste buds off your tongue. 😉
Mom's Sunday Simple Beef Stew
- 1/2 cup (60g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper divided
- 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 10-14 cups filtered water divided
- 1/2 large onion diced
- 3-4 medium carrots peeled and sliced 1 to 2-inch thick*
- 3-4 celery stalks sliced 1 to 2-inch thick*
- 2 pounds red potatoes cubed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
Brown the Meat
- In a large bowl, mix flour, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper together. Dredge stew meat in the flour, coating completely. Set meat and flour aside.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the meat (reserve the remaining flour in the bowl) 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.
- While meat is browning, whisk 1 cup of filtered water into the remaining flour until no lumps remain. Once the meat is browned, pour in flour and water mixture and an additional 7 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil and reduce temperature so your meat is cooking at a simmer.
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 2 to 4 cups of water to the stew during this cooking period.
- Add your onion, celery, and carrots. Stir and check water level. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add potatoes, basil, oregano, whole bay leaf, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Check salt and water level. I usually have to add a cup or more of water at this point.
- Simmer for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Taste test and add more salt if necessary. Remove bay leaf. Dish up and allow to cool in bowls for at least 5 minutes (or on the stove for at least 15) before serving.
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.