8 Tips for the perfect Beef Stew

8 Tips for the perfect Beef Stew

Here are 8 tips for the perfect beef stew that is tender, rich, and flavourful.  Beef stew in all its different variations is a favorite Canadian dish.   It is particularly popular for potluck dinners or family gatherings.  Canada is a multicultural country, so Canadians enjoy different types of beef stew from different cultures.   I have tried Hungarian Beef Goulash,  Russian Beef Stroganoff,  Filipino Beef Caldereta, French Beef Bourguignon, Filipino Beef Kare Kare in peanut sauce, Vietnamese Bo Kho, and the great Canadian Beef Stew.  The variations simply depend on the availability of local ingredients.   There are many reasons why everybody loves a good beef stew.   

  1.  It is a hearty meal.  A good stew is comfort food especially during cold winter nights.   Beef stew cooked in a slow cooker or simmered for hours in the oven tenderize the beef, so that the juicy meat pieces simply melt in your mouth. 
  2. Beef stew  can be prepared ahead and left to simmer for hours.  This allow the cook time to socialize with guests at dinner time, instead of slaving in the kitchen.
  3. Beef stew is a flexible dish. It is never boring.  As long as you follow the basic rules, you can experiment with different ingredients, and spices.
  4.  You can cook a big batch, and freeze the leftovers for future meals.
  5. You can use inexpensive cuts of meats and tenderize them using the slow cook method.  Sirloin, tenderloin cuts are the most expensive cuts of beef.  You can use round, chuck, flank, brisket which are typically tough meat and tenderize them with a good stew recipe.

No matter which variation you use, there are still some basic tips and tricks towards making that perfect beef stew.

beef stew uses the inexpensive beef cuts

1.  Cut the beef to equal size.  This allows the meat to cook using the same amount of time.

tips for the perfect beef stew
brown the beef in batches for a nice brown color

2.  Brown the meat first before simmering or slow-cooking.  The browning process gives the beef its nice brown color.  It also results in a richer flavor for the meat. Browning is a chemical process that combines the sugar and amino acids in the meat giving it a strong aroma,

3.  Brown in batches.  Make sure there is room in the frying pan for all the meat chunks, Do not overcrowd.

4.  Pre-heat the pan before searing. While browning or searing, allow the process to complete before stirring the meat.

5.  Slow cook and simmer for at least two hours to give the meat that “melt in the mouth”  tender texture.

6.  Use a good base, such a beef broth, or canned tomatoes, tomato paste, or a curry sauce.  Red wine is also a good addition. The Hungarian beef goulash, Filipino Beef Caldereta and the French Beef Bourguignon all use tomato sauce. The Filipino Beef Kare Kare uses peanut sauce.

beef stew in tomato sauce
Hungarian beef stew cooked in tomato sauce

7.  Root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, parsnips and turnips give body to the stew. Also add other vegetables such as celery, mushroom, potatoes, sweet peppers, onions and garlic for flavours. Don’t forget herbs and spices, such as bay leaves, or rosemary which goes well with beef.

root vegetables for beef stew
root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, turnips gives body to the beef stew

8.  Use flour or cornstarch to thicken the sauce at the last minute and give it that nice glaze.

Serve with Yorkshire pudding.  (See our foolproof Yorkshire pudding recipe that has been handed down for several generations)

8 tips for the perfect beef stew