Beef Stew in and around Bread Bowls

It is a cold, wet day, the likes of which I thought we were over around here. A beef stew kind of day. So I am resubmitting this one for those who need a bowl of warm hugs.

I adapted this one from the Food Network recipe. The search is over! I stopped searching for beef stew recipes after finding this one. And I’ve tried a few. For you working cooks, this would be a weekend meal. Plan ahead, freeze portions maybe or cook it in a pressure cooker for a quicker meal. Serve with warm bread of course, or the bread bowl.

  • vegy oil
  • flour
  • 2 1/2 lbs. beef chuck, cubed
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 medium onions cut into 6ths
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced (or a Tbsp. of minced from a jar)
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 10 cups beef or chicken broth or part water
  • 6 sprigs parsley, 6 of Thyme
  • 1 1/4 lb. potatoes, either red, yellow, white or peeled russet
  • 4 carrots, cut
  • 2 celery, cut
  • 28 oz. can whole tomatoes (or diced, if you must)
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ***later edition add in. Sometimes I put some red wine in right after the tomato paste and before the broth, then let it cook down a minute. Extra vegetables like green beans are always a welcome addition. You can also add a rosemary stalk or a bay leaf if you have it and it makes you happy to do so…

Heat a large pot or dutch oven with lid over medium heat, pouring enough oil to cover bottom of pan.

Spread flour out on a plate or wax paper. (clean up/no clean up) Put half the beef onto the flour and season with salt and pepper. Toss with your fingers to cover with and shake off excess flour.Put that meat into the hot pot and work on the rest of the beef the same way. Saute the first batch of meat uncovered stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. When browned, remove from pan and add the second half of the beef. I added a little more olive oil to the pan first. When that batch is browned, also remove and put in a bowl with the first batch.

Now you will be looking in the bottom of the pan and panic, thinking ‘its ruined! I’ll never get this clean!’ Bahh. Just keep going. Right into that browned pot add the butter and melt it. Add the onions and saute about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic, stirring 1 minute. Now in goes the tomato paste, stirring for 1 more minute. Return the beef, add the broth and add the herbs. (I get mine from the garden. Sometimes I tie them together with kitchen twine so I can remove them when its done cooking. But other times I dont bother and  let people just take the twigs out of their bowls telling them  ‘oh, you found the lucky twig!’) For the broth, I opened a box of beef broth, then used up what was left in a box of chicken broth in the fridge. If I had needed more, I would have just used water. ‘Its all good’

Let this stuff simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours while it does its magic.  I usually cover it. Or have the lid tilted just a little.

About 1/2 hour before it is done, you get back into gear. Peel things, cut things. Open the can of whole tomatoes, pour it into a bowl and squish with our hand. Squeeze the whole tomatoes into mushiness. This only takes a minute. It gives it good flavor and is softer than diced tomatoes which have calcium stuff in it to keep the tomatoes solid. Just trust me on this and move on.

Add all your veggies, including tomatoes to the stew and simmer, uncovered for 1 more hour. Liquid should thicken a little and the vegetables will be tender. Remove and throw out the herbs, if you can find them. Stir in the vinegar and add salt and pepper after you taste it. The ‘fond’ at the bottom, all that nummy brown stuff, will have cooked into the broth for the most part. This stuff will be hot! Dish it out and let it cool a bit. Go for a walk through the woods like the 3 bears.

Now, the picture at the top was just to take a picture. What we really do is ladle the stew into the bread bowl, which is in a pasta bowl, then put more stew around the outside. But that particular picture came out blurry.

Best Beef Stew Ever

***If you are using bread bowls, which we got from the La Brea Bakery at Downtown Disney, you would turn on the oven to 350, wrap the bowls in foil and heat for at least 20 minutes. When it comes out you need to cut off the top and with a fork, pull out some of the bread to make room for the stew.

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