We had the best snow day last week. School was cancelled, work wasn’t happening, and the only thing to do was hunker down in the house or go outside to play. With little kids, we didn’t have much choice, so we dug our saucers and sleds out of the garage, bundled up, and invited friends over for a day of sledding. Not surprisingly, the boys (and I’m including husbands in this category) took charge of the fun, creating a luge-like course on a steep hill in our backyard, risking life and limb to see who could get to the bottom the fastest. When we finally came back inside, it was almost dark and everyone was starving. By chance, I’d made a big pot of this beef stew the day before so we warmed it up in the oven for an impromptu dinner party. Everyone agreed: it hit the spot.
It’s a classic French beef stew, otherwise known as Beef Bourguignon. Beef chuck is seared in olive oil first, and then slowly braised with garlic and onions in a wine-based broth. After a few hours in the oven, the meat becomes meltingly tender and enveloped in a rich, deeply flavored sauce.
It takes some time to make (about an hour of active cooking), but I promise you it’s well worth the effort. Aside from being delicious, it’s a one pot meal that feeds a crowd. You can also make it a day ahead—in fact, you should because the flavor improves the longer it sits.
The most important thing is to start with the right cut of meat. You want to buy chuck roast that is well-marbled—that means it should have a good amount of white veins of fat running through it. Stay away from meat generically packaged as “stew meat,” especially if it looks lean. As someone who has fed an entire pot of leathery stew to her dog, I can guarantee you it will not get tender, no matter how long you cook it. Go ahead and remove any large chunks of fat that are easy to get to (like the one my knife is pointing to below), but don’t overdo it with the trimming!
Begin by seasoning the meat generously with salt and pepper.
Next, heat a bit of oil in a large soup pot and brown the meat in batches.
This step is a bit time-consuming but browning the meat adds depth and dimension to the stew. (Note: it’s important not to crowd the pan — if you try to brown all the meat at once, it will steam instead of sear and you won’t get all that lovely color and flavor.)
Remove the meat and add the onions, garlic, and balsamic vinegar to the pan. The vinegar will loosen all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and add flavor.
Cook until the vegetables are softened, then add the tomato paste and cook for a minute more.
Add the beef back into the pan and sprinkle with the flour.
Stir until the flour is dissolved.
Add the wine, broth, water, thyme, bay leaves, and sugar.
Bring to a boil, then cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, add the carrots and potatoes.
Return to the oven and continue cooking for one hour, or until the meat is fork-tender, the broth is thickened, and the carrots and potatoes are tender.
Feel free to adapt the recipe to your liking. You can leave out the potatoes and serve it over buttered egg noodles, or toss in some frozen peas or sautéed mushrooms at the very end. Either way, it’s soul-satisfying comfort food for a cold night.
My Recipe Videos
Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes
- 3 pounds boneless beef chuck (well-marbled), cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 7 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks on a diagonal
- 1 pound small white boiling potatoes (baby yukons), cut in half
- Fresh chopped parsley, for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and set a rack in the lower middle position.
- Pat the beef dry and season with the salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Brown the meat in 3 batches, turning with tongs, for about 5 minutes per batch; add one tablespoon more oil for each batch. (To sear the meat properly, do not crowd the pan and let the meat develop a nice brown crust before turning with tongs.) Transfer the meat to a large plate and set aside.
- Add the onions, garlic and balsamic vinegar; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping the brown bits from bottom of the pan, for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute more. Add the beef with its juices back to the pan and sprinkle with the flour. Stir with wooden spoon until the flour is dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine, beef broth, water, bay leaf, thyme, and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid, transfer to the preheated oven, and braise for 2 hours.
- Remove the pot from the oven and add the carrots and potatoes. Cover and place back in oven for about an hour more, or until the vegetables are cooked, the broth is thickened, and the meat is tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve the stew warm -- or let it come to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator overnight or until ready to serve. This stew improves in flavor if made at least 1 day ahead. Reheat, covered, over medium heat or in a 350°F oven. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The stew can be frozen for up to 3 months. Just omit the potatoes because they don’t freeze well. If you’d like, boil some potatoes separately when you defrost the stew and either add them into the stew or serve them on the side. Before serving, defrost the stew in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then reheat on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot.
- Per serving (6 servings)
- Calories: 539
- Fat: 18g
- Saturated fat: 6g
- Carbohydrates: 32g
- Sugar: 8g
- Fiber: 4g
- Protein: 54g
- Sodium: 1189mg
- Cholesterol: 143mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.