This hearty Simple Beef Stew is made completely from scratch and is absolutely delicious, just like Mom used to make it.
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.
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.
*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.
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.