As the weather is turning colder and we’re starting to crave warmer and heartier meals, one-pot recipes like this beef stew are so good to have on hand.
About 10 years ago, my cousin Lynne made a delicious stew that looked very similar to the classic dish I typically make for my family, but with some special changes.
She added shallots to her recipe, which I loved for their softer, more mellow onion flavor.
But there was something else I couldn’t identify at first: a subtly tangy, yet lightly fruity, undertone.
I asked her what it was, and she was excited to reveal her secret ingredient:
One tablespoon of balsamic vinegar added to the beef stock base balances the salty, savory flavors without overpowering the other ingredients.
The recipe below is my own version of Lynne’s recipe. It has become a favorite in our house, especially when the whole gang is home and cozying up together on a cold night.
In addition to the vinegar, the rich base is flavored with floral bay leaves, and includes tender pieces of chuck and wholesome vegetables like cremini mushrooms, green beans, carrots, potatoes, celery, and tomatoes.
Without needing to worry about cleaning tons of cookware when you’re too full to move after eating!Print
Looking for a hearty one-pot dinner to warm your family and friends on colder evenings? Our savory beef stew is the perfect meal.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 medium shallots, coarsely chopped
- 6 medium cremini mushrooms, halved
- 4 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 15-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, quartered, with juice
- 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1-inch rounds
- 1 cup fresh green beans, halved with ends trimmed
- 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Heat the oil in a six-quart pot over medium-high heat. Carefully add the beef to the pot in a single layer and sear on all sides until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the beef to a plate or large bowl. Set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium, and add the butter to the pot. When the butter has melted, add the shallots and mushrooms. Stirring occasionally, cook until the mushrooms are lightly browned and the shallots become translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low. Return the meat to the pot, and pour in 2 cups of the stock, or enough stock to submerge the ingredients. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once.
- Add the tomatoes with juice, potatoes, carrots, green beans, celery, and bay leaves into the pot. Stir in the remaining stock. Cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes, or until all ingredients are fork tender, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- Category: Beef
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Stew
Keywords: one-pot, stew, beef
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep
Get your ingredients and equipment ready.
Set out a six-quart stockpot with its lid.
Pat the beef dry with paper towels. If the butcher hasn’t already done this for you, cut the beef into 2-inch cubes with a sharp knife and sturdy cutting board. Prepare this separately from the produce with different utensils to prevent any cross-contamination.
If you want a more nutrient-dense liquid in this recipe, use an equal amount of beef bone broth to replace the stock.
Set out the bay leaves and salt and pepper – freshly cracked is best!
You can chop the parsley now, and place it in an airtight container in your refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
Step 2 – Sear the Meat
Heat the oil in the stockpot over medium-high heat.
Avoid any injuries and stay safe from the hot oil by carefully placing the meat cubes into the pot using long tongs. Make sure the pieces are in a single layer to prevent steaming. Sear the meat on all sides until they are just browned. This will take about two minutes for each side.
Transfer the meat to a platter or large bowl and set aside for now.
Step 3 – Cook the Shallots and Mushrooms
Reduce the heat to medium, and then melt the butter in the pot before adding the shallots and mushrooms.
Cook until the mushrooms are lightly browned and the shallots have become translucent. This will take about five minutes.
Make sure to stir the mix with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula every so often to prevent the shallots from burning.
Step 4 – Simmer the Meat with Some of the Stock
Reduce the heat to low and return the meat to the pot. Now add the balsamic vinegar and just enough beef stock to submerge the ingredients, about 2 cups of the stock.
Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring just once midway through the cooking process.
Step 5 – Add the Other Vegetables and Remaining Stock
Add the tomatoes with juice, potatoes, carrots, green beans, celery, and bay leaves into the pot.
Now, pour in the remaining 2 cups of the beef stock. If the stock is not enough to submerge all of the ingredients, add just enough water to do so.
Step 6 – Cover and Simmer
Cover the pot and let everything simmer together for 45 minutes to one hour until the meat and vegetables are tender when they are pierced with a fork.
If the meat is still a little tough, continue cooking and checking in 10-minute increments.
Do you like a thicker broth? Consider the addition of a thickening agent! Here’s how to do it:
After the 45-minute simmering time, whisk together two teaspoons cornstarch and two teaspoons water in a small bowl to create a smooth slurry. Gradually pour and stir this mixture into the stew and cook gently over medium-low heat for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally – you’ll see that the broth will slightly thicken during this time frame.
When ready to serve, remove the bay leaves.
Finally, add salt and pepper to your taste level. If you accidentally added too much salt, read our solutions for fixing too much salt in the stew.
All that’s left to do is to divide the contents into dinner bowls, garnish each with chopped parsley, and enjoy!
If you want to save significant time cooking in the kitchen, learn how to prepare beef stew in the electric pressure cooker with our tutorial.
Spin Your Stew Your Way
As with any recipe, once you have all the basics down, you can experiment with variations that your family and friends may enjoy.
Do you think you’d like to try this recipe with lamb? If so, I recommend using sweet green peas instead of beans, and adding two fresh sprigs of marjoram during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Want to serve a vegetarian rendition? Leave out the meat, double the amount of mushrooms, and use a vegetable broth.
Sometimes I use leftover vegetables from a past dinner in this recipe to repurpose potential food waste. Simply add them during the last five minutes of cooking. I just did this the other week when I made a ton of roasted root veggies as a side dish.
How do you like to update your family’s favorites? Tell us all about your own secret ingredients and tricks in the comments below!
Our secret addition in this stew can offer its bold personality in far more unexpected ways. Try these three recipes next featuring balsamic vinegar, and see if anyone else can guess what the special flavor is:
About Nan Schiller
Nan Schiller is a writer from southeastern Pennsylvania. When she’s not in the garden, she’s in the kitchen preparing imaginative gluten- and dairy-free meals. With a background in business, writing, editing, and photography, Nan writes humorous and informative articles on gardening, food, parenting, and real estate topics. Having celiac disease has only served to inspire her to continue to explore creative ways to provide her family with nutritious locally-sourced food.