Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rich and Hearty Beef Stew

Well, we had our first cold weather--down to 25 degrees.  It will get colder, but I always find the first cold days rather shocking until I get used to them.  I don't mind winter, and love certain aspects of it.  For example, I get to wear my favorite garment, the sweater, all the time.  I love snuggling under warm blankets.  And I really enjoy cooking hearty soups and stews, which can simmer all afternoon, to develop rich flavor, and keep the kitchen warm.  And baking, ooh-la-la, I love running my oven. 

Because I knew I would be simmering this stew for a few hours, I did not find it necessary to use beef stock for cooking.  The beef itself makes plenty of its own stock. But I did use coffee, which is a tip I learned from my Mother, and she learned from her Mother, from making the ubiquitous Southern Red Eye Gravy.  Although you don't really taste coffee in the end, it does add richness to the sauce, and more importantly, it helps tenderize the meat. 

The vegetables I added in the beginning mostly melted away and helped make a delicious gravy for the baby potatoes and mushrooms I added toward the end.  Once the potatoes were tender, I found myself staring into the pan and wondering what I would use to to thicken the sauce.  I thought about using flour or cornstarch but didn't like that idea. I also contemplated adding some dumplings to that delicious smelling, simmering broth.  In the end, I just keep simmering, uncovered, until it was thickened.  We were both very happy with the way this tasted. 

Rich and Hearty Beef Stew
2 lbs. stew beef
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. each, salt, pepper, and paprika
2 Tbsp. bacon fat, or vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 15 oz. can tomatoes, with their juice
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 cup strong, brewed coffee
Several stems fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 lbs. tiny Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed very well
6 oz. tiny white mushrooms, cleaned and inspected

Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika; coat the beef very well, all over, with the mixture. Heat the bacon fat, in a large soup pot or dutch oven, over medium high heat.  Add the beef and cook until well browned.  Add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and stir well.  Add the tomatoes with their juice. Stir in the soy sauce and coffee. Add enough water to barely cover all the ingredients in the pan, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the beef is very tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Remove the thyme stems and bay leaves and add more salt and pepper to taste. Drop the potatoes and mushrooms into the simmering stew, cover and continue to cook, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook the stew until it is reduced to desired consistency. 


  1. Looks so delicious, and ready to enjoy with a biscuit or fresh baked roll! I will often add coffee to a beef dish, it does add rich flavor without a coffee over taste.

  2. What an interesting recipe. I'm a big fan of beef stew. I was actually planning on making my version of it for this week. But I've never seen coffee and soy sauce in it. I like your creativity. I may have to try this.