The key to Beef Stew with a Bite is good bone beef broth. You can use the cheap stuff, but either making it yourself or coughing up some money to your local artisan broth maker results in a rich and most excellent stew. Pepper wise, you can use whatever you want, but I prefer 1 habanero1. This stew does bite, but it won’t offend most people. Additionally, if you aren’t feeding 6 people and are planning on freezing meals, the heat and flavors mellow over time; time is a secret ingredient. Let your stew mellow, man. If you want to dial it up, add 2 habaneros for Beef Stew that Punches You in the Mouth.
- 2 to 3lbs. of beef chuck
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 rashers of bacon
- 1 tablespoons of oil if needed
- .25 cup of all purpose flour
- 1 large onion or 2 small chopped onions
- 3 to 4 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 1 habanero diced (I leave the seeds in)
- 1.5 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 2 to 3 cups beef bone broth
- 1 to 2 cups of water
- 1 bay leaf
- .5 teaspoon of dried thyme (about 1.5 teaspoons if fresh)
- 1.5 teaspoons of sugar
- 4 large carrots cut into diagonal pieces
- Rice or potatoes (to serve stew over)
Dice the bacon into .5 inch pieces, and on a medium heat, fry it in a large soup pot or dutch oven until crisp. If the bacon is particularly lean, use a tablespoon or so of oil. Though it is less healthy than olive oil, I prefer vegetable oil for stew. Once the bacon is crisp, remove it and set it aside.
Cut the beef chuck into 1 inch cubes. To taste, add the salt and pepper to the cubes and massage in. In small batches brown the beef, remove, and set aside. When browning the beef, try not to let the individual pieces touch each other. This step takes a bit of time, but it is worth doing right.
Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, habanero, and onion to the leftover beef juices and bacon grease in the pot. While stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, cook the mix until the onions start to turn clear or for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute or 2 while stirring.
Add the beef and sprinkle it with flour, stirring it until all the flour is absorbed.
Add enough beef bone broth and water until the meat is covered. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and sugar.
Cook for 2 to 3 hours on a low heat.
Add carrots and cook for another hour.
If you like your stew a bit more thick, make a slurry with corn starch or flour and add it to the stew.
Serve over rice or potatoes.
And don’t forget, “Let it mellow, man.”
While I like jalapeños and serranos, they result in a stew that is a shade greener in flavor. ↩