How to make the best beef stew

Our simple hints to make your beef stew the best on the block.

Where's the beef (stew)?
Sweet and Sour Beef Stew with Prunes and Apricots
Photography by Jeff Coulson
It's no wonder that beef stew contiues to be the favourite it's been in Canadian homes for generations. When it comes to comfort food, what other dish can you think of with all these features?
  • It's made in one pot
  • Wonderfully nutritious
  • Can be made-ahead and refrigerated (or frozen)
  • Versatile enough to adapt to a host of add-ins you may have on-hand
  • Can be scaled up for big batch entertaining, or down for a cozy dinner for two (though you’d be crazy not to want leftovers)
  • Easy on the wallet
  • Hearty and warming on a cold winter’s night, but could fit into most any season or meal occasion (okay, maybe not breakfast!)
  • Comforting and nostalgia-inducing
  • Can be kept casual for ladling into bowls and served with crusty bread for when the gang drops by, or made more elegant for your next soirée with the addition of a splash of red wine, chopped fresh herbs and served over rice pilaf
  • Is the perfect dish to be made in your slow cooker
But what makes for a good beef stew? Here are some tips and techniques to help make yours the best on the block.

What is a beef stew?
In its most basic form, beef stew is a savoury one-pot dish, which consists of three main elements: beef (1) and vegetables (2), cooked slowly in a liquid (3). Let’s take a look at each of these in a bit more detail.

1) Cuts of beef for best beef stew
Look for:
  • outside round beef
  • oven roast
  • cross rib
  • brisket
  • blade
  • or any other cut that has the words pot roast, simmering or stew, such as lean boneless stewing beef.
Buying a large piece of meat and cutting your own cubes ensures all will be cut to the same size and will cook in the same amount of time. For convenience though, picking up a kilo or so of beef stewing cubes is fine in a pinch.

Page 1 of 3 - Why is browning your meat in the pan essential to make stew? Find out on page 2.

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