How to make a basic stew

Posted on August 14, 2011


Who does not love a delicious stew filled with tender meat and soft veggies covered with savory sauce?   There is nothing better in the world than coming home and smelling stew simmering in your slow cooker or dutch oven.  It is a bit of heaven on earth.

My friend Blondie and I decided that a stew would be a fitting dinner for St. Patrick’s Day.  And the store happened to be sold out of corn beef.  That also influenced the decision.  So we had stew, green salad, Irish Soda Bread, fruit salad, lime refresher (green) and Jello Poke cake (with green whipped cream).  I must say I enjoyed my dinner very much.  Three cheers for Comfort Food!

I have used many stew recipes and I think for once I will actually record this one because I liked so much how it turned out.  I have this ritual I go through when I want to make something.  First I go digging for a recipe.  I find one that looks mostly right.  Then I modify it to suit my tastes.  I like it, but did not note the changes I made and then I spill some kind of unidentifiable goo on the post-it note where I scratched the recipe is my inconsistent made-up shorthand.  I think I will remember it next time I want to make it.  Well guess what?  I don’t EVER remember.  So now I will record for official history my official stew with official instructions on my official blog.


Sea Salt & Pepper


2 lbs cubed beef, venison, elk, or lamb (we prefer venison & elk–so much lower in fat, range fed, and 100% delicious)

1 large onion, chopped (1/2 to 3/4’’ chunks)

6 carrots, sliced on the diagonal in 3/4’’ slices

6 celery ribs, sliced on the diagonal in 3/4’’ slices

3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

3 cups beef broth

2 cups apple cider (we used our home pressed from our own apples–YUM!)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. marjoram

1 10 oz. package frozen petite peas

4 T. butter

1/2 c. flour

In a heavy oven-proof Dutch Oven, heat the oil on medium heat.  In the meantime, rinse you meat and pat dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and pepper.  More salt than pepper.  Once the oil is hot, start browning the meat a bit at a time, turning as you go.  Don’t fully cook–just brown.

Don’t overcrowd your pan.  Work in batches to give the meat plenty of room to brown.  If your pan starts getting stuck little bits on the bottom, don’t worry–it adds great flavor!

Once the meat is all done browning, add your vegetables.

I have about 10 cups of veggies, in near equal proportions.

Stir to coat.  The moisture from the veggies will begin to deglaze the pan.

Next, add the browned meat back in.

Then add the broth, cider, and spices.

Bring to a boil, and then place the lid on your dutch oven or oven proof pan.  Place in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees.  Cook for about three hours.  Check half-way through to make sure the liquid in not boiled all away.  Add more liquid as necessary.

After the cooking time, the veggies and meat should be tender.   When I pulled my pan out of the oven I had to add a couple of cups of water as I had been out all afternoon.  It looked a little dried on top, but that was quickly remedied and did not hurt the stew at all.  While it rests on the counter, melt the butter in a sauce pan.  Add the flour to the bubbling butter to make a roux.  Stir into the stew until all combined.  Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed.  Then dump in the frozen peas and stir.  Replace the lid and put the pan back in the oven for another hour or so.

When you pull the stew out again for the second time it will be thick and ready to eat.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!!!


5 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
You guys make your own apple cider?!  YUM!   My husband really loves apple cider, since he grew up in upstate NY.
Thursday, March 18, 2010 – 12:25 AM
Mama Chef
We made our own cider for the first time this year.  We rented an apple press from a neighbor with another couple and we did it together.  It made the most amazing sticky mess but we got many gallons of cider.  It took ALL DAY and then some.  And it is hard physical labor. Then we processed it in a water bath canner in 1/2 gallon glass jars.  It really does have an amazing flavor.  But we had two apple trees that were totally loaded and had already made apple pie filling, applesauce, and sliced apples.  This was the next logical step!  I am glad I have it on hand, but I don’t really look forward to doing it again.  I probably will anyway.  Canning is like having a baby.  You think at the time “I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN” but then time passes and your memory fades of how horrible it is and then you think it sounds like a good idea.  Go figure.
Thursday, March 18, 2010 – 08:50 AM
This was so tasty. Thanks for sharing with us! I may have to encourage shorty to start hunting so we can have venison on hand. (that will never happen)
Thursday, March 18, 2010 – 09:24 AM
HA!! Blondie calls her husband Shorty! That made me laugh!!

Your stew looks delicious! I love homemade stew. I totally forget to make it. It’s not St. Paddy’s day anymore, but maybe that’s what we’ll have for dinner tonight!

Thursday, March 18, 2010 – 10:06 AM
I wish I could hire you to be my personal chef, with your beautiful oldest daughter as my personal baker/party planner!
Thursday, March 17, 2011 – 06:36 PM