My mother in law, Sarah, makes the best beef stew. The first time I had it, I was dating my husband and took my parents to his mom’s house for Christmas. We’re talking travel, stay over night in their house a few days, real Christmas. Looking back, that was rather brave of us. We weren’t even engaged.
Anyway, she served this Christmas Eve and I remember thinking Beef stew? As in that old fashioned food so one eats anymore? This was long before the revival of retro dishes. But I got schooled that night. Not only did I love it, I couldn’t get enough. I not only had to ask for the recipe, but I had to stop making it for a few years because I once ate so much I made myself sick on it. True story. Everyone around the table loved it (there were other guests that night as well) and my dad even ate the cooked carrots.
Time has passed and I started making it again a couple of years ago, making sure I don’t eat too much and get sick again. I’ve made a few small changes over the years to suit our family’s tastes and the types of ingredients we like to use. The bottom line is that this is warm comfort food with layers of savory flavors that make you welcome the winter cold.
I think part of the successful marry of flavors in this dish is the unexpected baking spices. They sound odd, but they play with that beef like nothing I’ve had before. I always double or triple this recipe because guess what, it freezes well too!
- 2 lbs, stew meat
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 4 Cups boiling water
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 dash allspice
- 1 bag frozen stewing vegetables (it has potatoes, carrots, onions, and possibly more depending on where you buy them) - no need to thaw
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon cold water
- Heat butter or oil in large, heavy bottomed stock pot. Brown meat on all sides.
- Add everything else except for the vegetables, corn starch, and cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and let it simmer for 2 hours. Add more water if necessary.
- Add the stew vegetables, cover and let is cook 30 minutes more.
- Remove the stew chunks to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Remove bay leaves.
- In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch into cold water and pour into stew liquid that is still in the pan. Let it heat and turn into a little bit of a gravy. Add the stew chunks back in and serve.