If you have been following my blog over the last year, you have figured out that my favorite foods are usually served in a bowl…the perfect vessel for delicious brothy bites! One of my favorite recipes is actually probably one of the simplest…Beef Stew. Although I have tried many other recipes with wonderfully exotic ingredients, I keep coming back to this one with a few “shortcuts” because it truly turns out perfectly every time.
This particular beef stew recipe was given to me right after I got married (29 years ago this weekend) by my mother-in-law’s twin sister, Joyce Self. Aunt Joyce, much like her sister, is an excellent cook and I have gotten several great ideas from her over the years but this one is my favorite because not only does it taste so good, you don’t even have to brown the beef! It is truly simple cooking at it’s best! Although, I have tweaked it a little bit over the years just because our taste buds have developed a little need for some extra spice, it is still close to its original version. So here is my version of Aunt Joyce’s Beef Stew!
Aunt Joyce’s Beef Stew
- 2 1/2 to 3 lbs, chuck roast
- 1 tablespoons of Olive Oil
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 4-5 cups of golden potatoes, cut into chunks
- 2 cups carrots (use more if you like but I’m not a huge fan; I use the precut baby carrots)
- 1 can of tomato soup
- 1 packet of beef stew seasoning mix (I prefer McCormick)
- 6-8 cups of water (depends on how thick you prefer your stew…I usually start with 6 then add as needed while cooking)
- 2-3 cups of frozen lima beans
- 2-3 cups of frozen white shoepeg corn
- 2 cans of diced tomatoes (I usually use 1 quart of tomatoes that I have frozen or canned from the summer)
- Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes (I start with a teaspoon and taste from there)
- One bundle of fresh thyme
Note: You notice this is a “loose” recipe because the amount of meat and vegetables you use, will affect the amount of water you use which in the end affects the spices so the key is to taste, and taste again…you can’t screw this up, I promise!
Lower the rack in your oven to the bottom third and preheat to 350 degrees.
Cut your beef into large cubes, removing the fat; season with salt and set aside.
In a large oven safe dutch oven, I always use my favorite ceramic cast iron Le Crueset dutch oven, heat your olive oil. Add in the onion and season with a little salt. Saute onions on low heat until tender.
Add in your beef…
then your potatoes…
and your tomato soup.
Add in your tomatoes and stir mixture well.
Next add in your beef stew seasoning and 6-7 cups of water (Add the remaining water as needed throughout the cooking process…you don’t want to start with too much because you want the broth to have a chance to thicken)
Finally, add in the lima beans, corn, and your seasonings; stir well. (Again I start with a teaspoon of each and adjust throughout the cooking process.) Top it with your thyme bundle.
Place the lid on top. Put in the oven and cook for approximately 3/12 to 4 hours or until potatoes and carrots are tender. Leave it alone the first hour and then stir every half hour after that. Your house will smell amazing!
Serve with your favorite corn bread and if you aren’t comforted, you can’t be helped…ha, ha!
Bottom Line: Yes, there are more sophisticated recipes out there and I will try more from time to time. But, when I want true comfort and warm memories (I actually got to cook this for my late grandmother, Memaw, once..a cherished memory), this is the recipe I will come back to every time. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as mine…..we actually fight over the leftovers! I am Chef Frankie and until next time….”Keep Cooking with Love and Wild Abandon”!