December 2, 2008

Best Beef Stew

Beef Stew Notes

I've been working on new crock-pot recipes, and I have perfected my beef stew to the point where I'm happy with it. I post it here for your use and enjoyment, but also because I'm afraid I will lose the two little slips of paper I've written my notes on.

The goal of this recipe is to get a good tasting stew that can be cooked in the crock-pot without having to brown the beef. This makes it much easier to assemble. I took a basic recipe and fiddled with it to replace the flavor that browning adds. That's why it has a longish ingredients list.

Dr. Momentum Beef Stew


  • 2 lb stew meat (preferably chuck) cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 8 oz carrots cut to baby-carrot size
  • 12 oz potatoes cut in 1 to 2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 or 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 heaping Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning . (or substitute, below)
  • 2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet. (or Gravy Master)
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 1/2 tsp MSG (optional) (Ac'cent is the brand I use)
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper, fresh ground
  • seasoning salt to taste (or, celery salt)

Dump the whole thing in a crock-pot. Carrots on bottom, then potatoes, onions, meat. Sprinkle the flour over the mean, then dump everything else on top, except the sherry. As you add the sherry, try to get the liquid level approx 2/3 the way to the top of the ingredients. This will help give you a thick stew, and not too wet.

Set your crock-pot on low for 10 hours, until the meat can be cut with a fork. Chuck is very forgiving, but I find stew meat from the round to get dry if it's cooked too long, because it has less connective tissue.

Serve with your favorite blended red wine and a crusty stick bread.

If you don't have "Simply Organic" All-Purpose Seasoning, substitute 1 tsp parsley, 1 tsp celery seed, 2 tsp of mixed "Italian spices" and 1/2 tsp sage. Or, you can make a substitute "all purpose" mix which is great for stews, soups, and sauces.

All-Purpose Salt-Free Seasoning

  • 2 parts onion powder
  • 2 parts garlic powder
  • 2 parts parsley
  • 2 parts celery seed
  • 1 part black pepper
  • 1 part basil
  • 1 part ground thyme
  • 1 part oregano
  • 1 part sage
  • 1 part coriander

Place in a spice jar and use liberally as needed.

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Posted by James at December 2, 2008 9:06 AM
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MMmmmm...want some now! Thanks for this, we're going to try it.

Quick clarification - by sherry you mean regular (assume dry) sherry, and not cooking sherry.

Posted by: Bull at December 2, 2008 9:55 AM

I would suggest using actual sherry and not cooking sherry.

When something calls for sherry, I'll use an inexpensive brand like Savory & James. In fact, when I make chicken marsala, I use Savory & James Amontillado.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 2, 2008 10:33 AM

Yes - that's plain old cheap sherry. We get the BIG bottles of Fairbanks Sherry at the packy. It just says "Sherry" on it. It's not cream sherry nor cocktail sherry. Just generic "sherry." It's just dry sherry.

Don't use "cooking sherry" or "cooking wine" because it's got salt in it. (to avoid prohibitions against selling alcohol at supermarkets)

If you're adjusting the liquid in the recipe, I prefer to do it separately from adding salt. So I always just get the cheap sherry at the liquor store and keep it handy.

ProTip: I often use sherry when water is called for in recipes, at least for some of the water. Like in French Onion Soup. Mmmmmm.

Posted by: James at December 2, 2008 10:37 AM

"I often use sherry when water is called for in recipes, at least for some of the water. Like in French Onion Soup. Mmmmmm."

Oooooooohhhhhhhhhh. I'll be over. What time is lunch?

Posted by: Patti M. at December 2, 2008 10:43 AM

Ok. I'm hungry now. When you can send hot stew over the internet, then it will be perfect.

Posted by: briwei at December 2, 2008 11:20 AM

Sometime between now and Xmas, I'll post my French Onion Soup recipe. I lurve the stuff, but the kids won't eat it. Know what that means?

More for me, that's what.

French onion soup is the bomb. And dead easy to make. Although my recipe uses beef broth and a little chicken broth, so I don't make it entirely from scratch. I use broth from the broth store.

Patti: do you have a common substitute you use when beef broth is called for in a recipe? It probably works fine if you use all chicken broth. Probably even better if you make your own clarified stock. I'm going to try that the next time we have chicken bones lying around.

Posted by: James at December 2, 2008 11:20 AM

BTW - this stock is also great when served with thick hearty pasta. Egg noodles are good, but I also like Farfalle.

Posted by: James at December 2, 2008 11:22 AM

I would use chicken stock in substitution of beef. To make your own stock, look in your markets for necks and backs--these are great for soup.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 2, 2008 12:10 PM

The carcass of a whole roasted chicken works well, too.

Posted by: Bull at December 2, 2008 1:43 PM

That's what I plan to use the next time we have roasted chicken for dinner. Toss the carcass back under the broiler with some veggies to get roasted some more, then plop into a pot.

I've updated the post with a photo of my leftovers. It doesn't look nearly as good as it smells or tastes.

Posted by: James at December 2, 2008 1:52 PM

The best chicken stock I ever made was with chicken feet. It's a little more labor-intensive, though. Plus, you have to deal with chicken feet.

Posted by: Julie at December 2, 2008 1:59 PM

If you have a carcass, that's the best thing to use. In the absence of a carcass, necks and backs, also thighs, are good to use.

You need the bones in order to make a good stock. I just had the turkey soup we made over the weekend, and holy Toledo, was it good. Again, the carcass was key.

Someone at work last week told me about using the feet of the bird, and if I could find them in the market, I would. Probably can't. It's getting harder to find backs, even in the city.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 2, 2008 2:06 PM

I found the feet at Price Rite. I've never seen them anyplace else, but I haven't tried. Maybe a butcher shop? No idea.

Posted by: Julie at December 2, 2008 2:23 PM

If you can find a butcher shop these days, let me know where it is!

Posted by: Patti M. at December 2, 2008 2:54 PM

Patti -

I figure you would at least know about Mayflower Poultry.

Posted by: Bull at December 3, 2008 9:09 AM

But of course! "Live poultry, fresh killed."

You know, you can get that slogan and their logo on many items, including a thong. This topic was covered in a previous post on this blog, so I'll stop now, except to say that this is near my aunt's, so I saw it not infrequently as a child.

When I think of a butcher, I think of someone who cuts meat, but Mayflower counts.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 3, 2008 6:05 PM

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