Everyone probably has a recipe for beef stew. I’ve been tweaking mine for years, and I think I’ve finally settled on one that I plan to stick with. Something that really seem to work well is to treat it like a braise and do the bulk of the cooking in a 325 degree oven instead of on the stove top.
While the meat is braising in the oven, I like to cut up all the vegetables, season and sauté them, cooking them about half way. This blends the flavors and caramelizes some of the edges. I’ve also started adding a can of diced tomatoes to the liquid. And finally, I’m totally committed to using sirloin tips.
2 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 lbs sirloin tips, cut in bite sized pieces
2 C chicken broth
15 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
2 parsnips, large dice
2 onions, quartered
3 carrots, large dice
2 stalks celery(with leaves), large dice
3 0r 4 large mushrooms, quartered
1/2 of a butternut squash ( or turnip, or potatoes) cut in chunks
frozen peas ( about a cup)
salt, pepper, thyme, garlic powder, flour for dusting
splash of vinegar at the end to brighten flavors (optional)
1. Heat the oil in an ovenproof pan with a good cover. One suitable for braising.
2. Season the sirloin tips with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour. Brown in the oil.
3. Add the broth and tomatoes to the browned meat and bring to a boil.
4. Cover the pot and place it in a 325 oven for 1 1/2 hours.
5. While the meat is cooking, chop the vegetables. Saute them in a little oil in a large frying pan. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder, and thyme. Amounts depend on what you like. I just add a few shakes of each. If my rosemary plant hadn’t been buried under two feet of snow, I would have added some minced fresh rosemary, but I don’t like dried rosemary, so I left it out.
6. After an hour and a half, remove the meat from the oven. Check to make sure that it’s tender. Add the vegetables to the pot. Stir well. Cover and return to the oven for another hour.
7. At this point, meat should be super tender and flavors should have blended. Add the frozen peas, stir and cover.
8. Taste for seasoning. You might need a bit more salt. Sometimes a small splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon goes a long way towards bringing flavors to life.