Best Beef Stew

April 3, 2011

Can you believe it’s still snowing! The Catskill mountains received another 2-to-3 inches of snow by Saturday morning, so my oldest son, Matthew and I took advantage of some free snowboarding offered by the smallish, Plattekill mountain. But I also had to juggle cooking my beautiful 5-1/2 pound “chuck eye roast”, which had been on sales for $13. But where there’s a will there’s a way. I cooked the stew on Friday night after work, snowboarded on Saturday in the daytime, then  re-heated the stew for Saturday’s dinner. The outcome was spectacular, 5-stars. Better than the first time I made over a year ago.

Beefiest stew yet. Amazing. (Sorry for quality of the Camera Phone photo)

The results were fabulous. 5-stars. Cooking the night before meant that the beef chunks broke down a little more than I wanted, but the flavor was the beefiest stew yet.


  1. At 5-1/2 pounds my chuck-eye roast was larger than what the recipe requires (just 4 pounds), which resulted in a beefier stew. The butcher custom cut the most beautiful chunk of meat I’ve ever seen; huge and exquisitely marbled. Best of all the entire roast only cost $13.
  2. Because of the extra beef, I browned the beef in 3 batches, rather than 2. Overall the extra beef added perhaps 30 minutes to the time-line. But most importantly, resist the urge to crowd the pan!

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: $23.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 10:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original for Best Beef Stew is here.  The descriptions of how I cooked them on Friday night are given below:

2 garlic cloves.
4 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast (I used 5-1/2 lbs)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion
4 medium carrots.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 ounces salt pork
1 pound Eastern White  (or Yukon Gold) potatoes
1-1/2 cups frozen pearl onions
1 packet unflavored powdered gelatin (2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup water
1 cup frozen peas
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. Chris Kimball recommends a medium-bodied wine, such as a Côtes du Rhône or Pinot Noir.
  2. When selecting the beef, look for well marbled veins of white fat. If you can’t find a chuck-eye roast (this was the first time I ever found one), then you can use a blade steak (also from the chuck).When selecting the salt pork, look for a piece that is about 75 percent lean.
  3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 300 degrees. Combine pressed garlic and minced anchovies in small bowl. Use the back of fork to press into a paste, then mix in tomato paste. Set aside for later.
  4. Rinse your salt pork of excess salt. Allow your pearl onions and peas to thaw on the countertop.
  5. Cut the beef into 1-1/2” cubes, trimming away any excess fat. Pat dry with paper towels, but do not season.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large Dutch oven over high-heat. Add half the beef (or a third if you have a large roast) and cook until it is well browned on all sides; approximately 8 minutes total. Reduce your heat if the oil starts to smoke or if your fond begins to burn. Once done, put cooked beef on a  large plate (or pie plate). Then add another 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and brown the second batch of meat.
  7. Meanwhile, halve the onion and cut from pole to pole into 1/8-inch-thick slices. You should have about 2 cups. Peel the carrots and slice into 1” pieces. Again you should have about 2 cups.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium and add back the first batch of beef to pot. Add your sliced onion and carrots, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes; stirring to scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pan.
  9. Add garlic mixture and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for another 30 seconds.
  10. Slowly add wine to deglaze the pan. Then increase the stovetop to high heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, bay leaves, thyme, and salt pork. Again, bring to a simmer on the stove-top, cover, and put in 300-degree oven. Cook in oven for 1-1/2 hours.
  11. Meanwhile, scrub your potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces.
  12. After the 1-1/2 hours, remove and discard the bay leaves and salt pork. Add the potatoes, cover, and continue to cook in the oven for 45 minutes more Remove from oven and place on stovetop over medium heat.
  13. Use a large spoon to skim any excess fat from the stew’s surface. Add the pearl onions and cook (over medium heat) for 15 minutes. If the meat is fall-apart tender, then you’ve gone too far.
  14. Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of water for 5 minutes. This will soften the gelatin.
  15. Increase the stovetop to high heat, and stir in the softened gelatin. Add the peas; simmer until gelatin is fully dissolved and stew is thickened, about 3 minutes.
  16. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of ground pepper. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as necessary
  17. Serve, or cool the stew, cover it tightly, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. I reheated it gently in the oven before serving.
  18. Serves 8.

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