because it works
- Searing the meat in large steaks gives it a browned flavor without overcooking or steaming.
- The gelatin adds body to the sauce without dulling the flavor, while the umami-rich ingredients add depth.
- Using two batches of vegetables ensures optimal flavor and texture in the finished dish.
American beef stew (thankfully) doesn't have the same history or rules as some of the European stews.burgundy beefoHungarian upholstery🇧🇷 As long as the meat is tender and the stew is like a stew, no one will say you did it wrong. But there are some archetypes. My own childhood experiences with beef stew began with a can of Dinty Moore (with its weirdly firm potatoes and carrots) and ended with a homemade version with dry, stringy chunks of beef wriggling in a broth flavored with tomato sauce. I won't name names, but the chef's name started with M and rhymed with "nom".
There are two things about these versions of American Beef Stew, namely,the mostThe versions have one point in common: they are simple and prioritize comfort before flavor.
Well, I won't settle for convenience. I go toGreat🇧🇷 You know that scene in the movie where the nerdy hero or heroine finds inner confidence and suddenly becomes a lot more interesting and a lot more attractive to the rest of the world? That hero is Beef Stew and his moment of confidence is now. The beef stew of my dreams starts with big, tender, juicy chunks of meat covered in a sauce that's rich and intense, but not heavy or cloudy (and that sauce better be clean and bright). It has vegetables that are more than just fillings and add complementary texture and flavor to the feast.
After dozens of pounds of roast beef and countless experiments, I have a pretty good idea of the techniques that can help not only perfect American beef stew, but also improve just about any beef stew recipe you have. Here are my beef stew rules.
Beef Goulash Rule #1: Choose Your Meat Wisely
The first step in any beef stew is selecting the meat. Especially for a stew like this one, which doesn't rely on large amounts of wine, beer, or other seasonings, the flavor of the meat is crucial.
A cow's muscles vary greatly depending on what those muscles are doing during the animal's life. Muscles that get very little exercise tend to be very soft, but also quite tender (think steak). Muscles that do a lot of heavy lifting are full of flavor, but they also contain a lot of connective tissue. This is exactly what you want in a stew, where the long, gentle cooking gives the connective tissues a chance to break down and soften. But what's the best cut?
Here's the scenario: you're in the supermarket and you see these cuts of meat "stew" in cubes in the butcher's case, or perhaps on a styrofoam tray in the fridge. You want to buy it.It saves me time!says your brain.I don't have to worry about cutting up raw meat! The butcher needs to know what good beef stew is and he's already robbed me!, continue.
Here's my advice. Ask your mouth to politely but firmly tell your brain to shut up - it's youNotI'll hear you out, buying pre-cut stew is a crapshoot at best. It's hard to tell what part of the meat it came from, which means it's hard to know what the flavor or texture will be. (That's assuming the material on display came from the same part of the beef in the first place, which is probably not the case.) More often than not, that beef stew will do the trick too, especially if you're using the technique I cover in the sketch. of the next section.
So what am I supposed to do? Buy your meat in bulk to be sure where it comes from. If I had to pick a single cut that was inexpensive, tasted great, and had a good fat/lean/connective tissue ratio, it would be boneless roast beef, cut from the fore shoulder of a steer. Of course, there are other great options too. We've tried our way throughany viable cut of stew on the marketTo find out which is best, check out our guide for an expanded list of options and descriptions.
Roast Beef Rule #2: Brown the meat before slicing it
Once you have your meat at home, the next step in a stew is usually browning the meat in a hot Dutch oven. We all know what happens when you try this: unless you have an industrial range, the meat will steam for the first 10 to 15 minutes of cooking instead of browning. This is bad news. The steam lowers the temperature of the pan and prevents the meat from browning well, even as it continues to shrink and exude more moisture. The result is dry, overcooked meat in the finished stew. What's the solution?
Do not chop the meat before searing.
I made three casseroles side by side: one grilling a whole meat loaf, one where I first cut the roast beef into three fillets, and another with meat that I had diced. All the grilled food came out a little bland (not a lot of surface area to brown well). The cubes, on the other hand, took a long time to brown properly and resulted in a relatively dry and tough stew. Steaks offer a good balance between the two, which is why they are the go-to choice.
Due to their smaller surface area, steaks will brown in a fraction of the time as cubes (less surface area means less channels for water to escape, which means less steam in the pan). While our meat isn't browned on every surface, there are still plenty of browning flavors to mix into the casserole as it cooks.
Once the steaks are grilled and rested, I cut them into relatively large pieces. 1 1/2 to 2 inches might sound big, but it helps the meat be more moist and juicy (and when we're done, you can cut it up with a spoon anyway).
Beef Stew Rule #3: Be Moderate with the Flour
We've all eaten sloppy beef stew in high school cafeterias, or maybe straight out of the can out of desperation. The culprit? Very thick. I've seen some recipes that call for up to 3/4 cup of flour per quart of liquid. This is more meat pasta than stew. In addition to texture, flour has another drawback: it can dull the taste. I want my stew to be light and bold, not steamed and flavorless.
I found that about 2 tablespoons of flour to 5 cups of liquid stock was all my stew could handle before the flavor started to fade. Mixing the flour into the meat after searing and dicing was the easiest way to incorporate the thickener without forming lumps. The finished stew still wasn't as bright and rich as I would have liked, but I decided to address other issues first.
Beef Stew Rule #4: Separate the Veggies
There is a delicious simplicity to the simplest of one-pot recipes, where you put the meat and vegetables in a pot and then cook them until everything is melted. But that method doesn't make the best stew. Instead of intact chunks of meat and vegetables, you end up with vegetables almost falling apart, clouding the broth and giving nothing to break the monotony of the meat.
To avoid this problem, I started making my stews with two different batches of vegetables. One batch should be served with the stew and the other just to flavor the broth and meat as it cooks. For the vegetables in the stew, I use quartered mushrooms, chunks of carrots, potatoes, and pearl onions. Just tossing them in the pan about an hour before they're done cooking works well, but it doesn't give the veggies the rich flavor I'm looking for.
Instead, I sear them first in the same pan I seared the meat in.
I start by browning the mushrooms, letting them cook until they really start to brown (this takes longer than most people have patience for, at least 5-10 minutes, so give them time!), and scraping them up with a spoon. of wood. Brown the pieces in panela using the liquid two cogumelos as a solvent. Then I place the cenouras and the onions and let them brown as well. I place these vegetables on a plate and in reserves to add later (along with the sweet potatoes) ao refogado.
For the stew, I use yellow onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and a few herbs, keeping all the veggies in as large chunks as possible for easy fish later. I browned them in the same Dutch oven (beware, the brown spots on the bottom of the pan can get too dark. Lower the heat as needed) before deglazing the pan with a cup of wine, which obliges me to do so. 🇧🇷
Beef Stew Rule #5: The Alcohol Makes It Better
You can omit the alcohol if you need to, but the wine, sherry or vermouth really add a dimension of flavor (acidity and complexity) that simpler meat stews lack. You don't need much. A glass of wine will do, and you definitely don't need expensive stuff.As we show in blind tastings, that old "cook only with the wine you would drink" advice just doesn't retain water (or should I say wine?). As long as the wine is dry (i.e., not sweet) and doesn't have off-flavors, you can use any wine you like.
After choosing my liqueur (I usually buy $7 bottles of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo to boil), I pour it into the pot, scrape up the substantial amount of browned bits with my wooden spoon, and let the wine reduce before I add my other ingredients. liquids. 🇧🇷Reduce the wine separatelyit's a step youwe mustuse in most cases).
Beef stew rule #6: Use chicken broth, not beef
We're making beef goulash, we should be using beef broth, right? Not so fast. Unless you're making your own broth using beef bones, meat, and vegetables, I recommend sticking with store-bought or homemade chicken broth. Canned or packaged beef broth is almost always inferior in flavor to packaged chicken broth, which has more flavor-enhancing chemicals and less actual meat.
I use Swanson's Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth. You want to use a low sodium broth because we'll reduce it later - a whole salt broth will be too salty.chicken brothit's awesome because it's essentially an empty canvas of a sauce, stew, or soup. It captures other flavors very well and enhances them. Infused with sautéed vegetables, browned meat and flavors, even chicken broth ends up with a great natural beef flavor. But you could still use a little help.
Beef Stew Rule #7: Break the umami bombs
If you've read Serious Eats, you knew this was coming. It's time to drop the umami bombs. I'm talking about ingredients that are naturally rich in glutamic acid and inosinic acid, amino acids that fire up our taste buds and make meaty things tastier.There are many umami bombs in the kitchen.🇧🇷 These include soy sauce, fish sauce, anchovies, Marmite, Parmesan cheese and tomato paste.
For this stew, I chose a mix of tomato paste (a classic American beef stew that also adds body to the mix), Worcestershire sauce (another classic), anchovies, and soy sauce. Mixing three different umami bombs ensures that none of them dominate the flavor of the finished dish, but take a backseat to do their supporting work.
To incorporate the umami bombs, I first tried crushing them to a paste in a small bowl. This is a technique I used while working on aBeef stew recipe for Cook's Illustrated a few years ago(Warning: Paywall). This works great, but it also results in a slightly grainy stew. I was after smooth and shiny.
I was wondering if refining the whole thing would work, using Thomas Keller's exaggerated technique of removing the cooked meat before running the broth through a series of increasingly fine meshes until it's perfectly clear. This is a great technique if you have a lot of patience, a large number of screens and a personal dishwasher on hand. It's not practical for normal people.
I chose the brute force method: the blender.
By mixing tomato paste, Worcestershire, anchovies and soy sauce directly into the broth, it's perfectly smooth without straining.
Beef Goulash Rule #8: Don't Waste Flavor!
You know that minced meat dish we separated earlier? Go check it out now and tell me what you see. This liquid that collects under the meat is full of flavor, one of the most precious resources in the universe. Do not waste.
Go to the pan.
Beef Stew Rule #9: FTW Gelatin Powder
Having tackled the meat and the flavor of the braising liquid, it was now time to tackle the texture. I'm fine with a fairly thick broth for certain types of beef stew. Boeuf Bourguignon, for example, with its small pieces of bacon, does not need a thick sauce to stick to the ribs. American beef stew, on the other hand, needs to be at least thick enough not to spill over into a bowl.
I was already at the edge of where I wanted to take my flour content, which forced me to turn to alternative thickeners.
Veteran readers can guess what comes next? Have it. Jelly. Sometimes we are so predictable.If we remove the jam frequently, it's because it isfunctions🇧🇷 The best beef stews I've ever tasted were made with beef broth, a broth rich in beef gelatin. It's a common ingredient in restaurants, but not so much in home cooking.
Fortunately, we have easy access to unflavored powdered gelatin. Unlike flour, gelatin thickens without affecting the flavor or clouding the broth. It actually has the exact opposite effect: it thickens the broth enough to coat your tongue, making it easier to taste. Gelatin on its own does a good job of thickening liquids, but it's even better at thickening broths that contain a fair amount of fat, helping to emulsify that fat and the liquid below to create a sauce that's thicker than any other component.
These two servings of stew were made with identical ingredients, except for an ounce of gelatin that I added to the stew on the left.
The difference in texture is significant, but it's also interesting to note that while the stew on the right appears greasy and the pools of fat glisten on the surface of the broth, the one on the left has no noticeable pockets of fat, everything has been emulsified. carefully into the stew.
Beef Stew Rule #10: Yukon Golds Make Cleaner Stews
We're entering the final stretch here. But bear with me, our stew is getting better. What is American beef stew without potatoes? They fill the pan, are great for soaking up the flavor and breaking up the monotony of the meat. Most casserole recipes call for red cabbage, the most starchy common potato you'll find in the supermarket. Russets are great in classic recipes because they do double duty, providing food in the last bowl and helping the stock thicken with the starches they release.
But stews thickened with potato starch have the same problem as stews thickened with too much flour: the starch can dull the flavor.
Since I already have the texture of the stew right where I want it, I prefer to use the Yukon Gold potato, which has a more buttery flavor and doesn't release as much starch. Even waxy red potatoes or new potatoes would work here too.
Beef Stew Rule #11: Use the oven, not the stove (and open the lid!)
OK, so we have our pickled veggies, reduced drink, gelatin-infused broth and umami bomb, and flour-coated beef in the pot. Let's add a few more bay leaves and sprigs of thyme just in case. Next question: stove or oven? And does it make a difference? Yes, and it depends on how much energy is being pumped into that pot and, more importantly, which direction it's coming from.
A cooktop is a system with a constant output power. Set the burner to a certain level and it will maintain that level no matter what is going on in the pan above. An oven, on the other hand, is a constant temperature system. You set it to a specific temperature and use whatever energy it needs to reach and maintain that temperature. A hob only heats from below. An oven heats from all directions.
The differences are subtle, but they can have a big impact on the finished stew. Ideally, a stew should simmer only very gently. The more it bubbles, the drier and tougher the meat becomes and the cloudier the broth becomes. 82 to 88°C (180 to 190°F) is the ideal range.
With the constant power of the kitchen, it is very difficult to maintain this temperature. Put the lid on and even on the lowest heat setting you will reach 100°C in this pan. Remove the lid to allow some evaporation (thus suppressing the maximum temperature; evaporation robs the pot of energy) and you have another problem. The stew will shrink, but you're adding the same amount of energy to it, which means it will get hotter and hotter over its 2-3 hour cooking time. And of course, the hotter it is, the faster it goes down, making this problem even worse.
Since the heat only comes from below, there is no additional browning or aroma build-up in the pan. What you get is what you have to work for. (This is one reason foods cooked in a slow cooker tend to be softer than foods cooked slowly in an oven.)
The oven, on the other hand, takes care of all these problems. First, it doesn't matter how much stew you cook as it is a constant temperature system. You can cook 5 gallons or a pint; it is still cooked at the same temperature. This means you can open the pot lid to allow the stew to maintain a slightly lower cooking temperature without worrying about it getting too hot when you reduce it.
As the heat comes from all directions, you will also notice that the stew will continue to brown as it simmers, forming a dark crust on the top and edges of the pot. This is a good thing as it just adds more flavor. actually if you areYes reallyIf you get lazy, you can skip the entire browning step and let the meat brown in the oven. You don't get as much flavor development, but it works.
It took me a while to adjust the timing, but I've found that removing large chunks of stir-fried vegetables about an hour and a half after cooking gives them plenty of time to release their flavor in the stew. After discarding the spent vegetables, I add my potatoes along with the carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms I have reserved.
Beef Goulash Rule #12: Don't overcook!
The last real rule of cooking beef stew is one I've seen broken countless times (including myself in those wild days when I cooked stew with reckless abandon): Don't overcook it. The idea of a stew simmering all day sounds appealing. If 2 1/2 hours of cooking makes the meat tender, shouldn't 6 or 8 hours make the meat even more tender? Unfortunately it doesn't work like that.
Roasting meat involves playing a racing game between two simultaneous processes. The first is the conversion of connective tissue into gelatin. This makes the meat more tender and juicy in taste. On the other hand, muscle proteins are constantly contracting and squeezing out internal moisture. This makes the meat more and more tough.
By the time the connective tissue softens (and it happens very quickly and all of a sudden your meat will be tough until you stop), the muscles will have ideally allowed for it.Anythe natural juices remain and the meat is soft, tender and juicy. If you let it cook too long (or boil it too hard), the muscles will have squeezed out so much moisture that even extra lubrication from the degraded connective tissues won't be able to do anything about it.
The exact time will depend on how your oven works and the cut of meat you have, but large cuts of meat in a 300F oven with the lid off will take about 2 1/2 hours to fully soften. I start skewering my meat around 2 1/4 hours, stopping every now and then until the meat is tender enough to cut with a spoon (it will continue to cook for a bit even if it's from the oven). At this point my added veggies are also perfectly cooked and the broth has reduced to a bright, rich gravy.
as i found out throughan informal poll on Twitter, people are divided on the subject of boiled peas. I'm all for it, but only if frozen peas are added at the end so they keep their bright green sheen. You can do whatever you want with them.
Beef Stew Rule #13: Eat it today, eat it tomorrow, it doesn't matter
And let's go! Stewed, our stew is ready. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves (or leave them like my mother did), season the broth to taste (it probably doesn't need a lot of salt, but it does need more pepper) and serve.
Wait a minute. We've all heard that casseroles get better in a few days, right? weput it to the test, and found that there is not much difference. And honestly, I've always found that advice more of a blessing than a guideline.It's okay to have leftovers as they still taste great after reheating.is what we really say. Because honestly, find someone who can spend an afternoon in the kitchen while the smell of beef goulash fills the house, then turn around and say, "Okay, that's it. Go to the fridge. What are we having for dinner tonight?" Because the beef goulash is due tomorrow!”
I mean, look at this. You don't get to see the meat yield to the slightest pressure of the spoon, or the broth coat your tongue, or the carrots and potatoes soak up the flavor of the meat, but believe me, all this happens and more.
Then again, do you let the stew sit overnight before eating it? It just doesn't happen. Eat the stew right away, save the leftovers, and eat again later in the week.
Or just eat the whole damn pan in one sitting. This is American beef goulash, right?
Editor's Note: This recipe originally called for an oven temperature of 275°F, which has worked for us in dozens of test runs on various stoves and ovens. However, based on reader feedback, it was clear that some home ovens are not very reliable at such a low temperature, resulting in much longer cooking times. To correct this, we increased the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F).).
Click play to learn how to make hearty American Beef Stew.
Cook:3 10 minutes default
No total:3 standard 15 minutes
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4 bags (950ml)self madeor store boughtlow sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoonsTomato paste(2.5 oz;75grama)
3 anchovy fillets in salted oil, washed (or1 soup spoon asian fish sauce)
4 packagesunflavored gelatin powder(1 oz;30grama)
1 tablespoon (quinceml)I am willow
1 tablespoon (quinceml)Salsa Worcester
2 tablespoons (30ml)vegetable oil
3 pounds(1.25kg) wholeboneless meat rationfry, cut into 3 fillets(Video) Easy Beef Stew - How to Make The Easiest Way
sal kosherand freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces (275grama)white mushroom, In the rooms
4 mediumcarrots(10 ounces🇧🇷 275 g), 2 whole, 2 cut into small pieces
8 ounces (225grama) frozen or freshpearl onions(thawed if frozen, peeled if fresh)
1 grandeyellow onion, shelled, halved (10 ounces; 275g)
2 small ribsSaddlery(3 ounces;85grama)
3 Average Garlic cloves, shelled
1 cup of sherry,dry vermouth, or red wine (8 ounces; 235ml)
2 tablespoonsflour(about 3/4 ounce;20grama)
2 laurel leaves
4 branches timio
1 libra (450grama)Yukon Goldkartoffeln, peeled and cut into cubes
4 ounces (113grama)frozen peas
Combine broth, tomato paste, anchovies, gelatin, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Put it aside.
Place oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season the meat with salt and pepper and place in the Dutch oven. Cook, turning occasionally, until the meat is well browned on 2 sides, about 10 minutes. Place the meat in a roasting pan or large dish and set aside.
Add the mushrooms to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring, until the liquid is released and the mushrooms start to brown, about 6 minutes, reducing the heat as needed to keep them from burning. Add chopped carrots and pearl onions and sauté until well browned on all sides. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Place the halved yellow onion, cut side down, in the Dutch oven. Add whole carrots, celery stalks and garlic. Cook, turning carrots, celery, and garlic occasionally, until all vegetables are nicely browned, about 4 minutes.
Add wine or sherry, scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, and cook until reduced by 3/4, about 3 minutes. Add broth mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from stove.
Cut the grilled steaks into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Pass through the flour. Place the meat and any accumulated juices on the tray or plate in the Dutch oven, along with the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Stir to combine and bring back to a boil over medium heat. Place in the oven, cover with the lid partially open, and cook until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. The liquid should boil evenly all the time. Adjust oven temperature as needed during baking.
Remove the stew from the oven. Use tongs to scoop out the carrots, celery, thyme, bay leaves, onions and garlic and discard. Add the reserved sautéed potatoes and mushrooms, pearl onions and carrots to the stew, return to the oven and continue to cook, partially covered, until the meat, potatoes and carrots are tender and the broth has thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour .
Remove the stew from the oven. Place on stove top if needed and cook for up to 15 minutes to reduce to desired consistency. Add the peas. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight or up to 5 days and warm to serve.
- Stew Science: How to choose the best cuts for beef stew