When it’s cold outside, nothing says comfort food like a big pot of beef stew. Tender meat that you can cut with your fork, flavorful vegetables simmered in a hearty broth that developes as the juice from the roast melds with the vegetables, herbs and tomatoes. This recipe for Italian Beef Stew is that and more. One of the best stews I’ve ever tried, and I think it might be the same for you.
Even though Beef Stew is a one-pot meal, one pot doesn’t mean ‘dump it all in at once, cook for an extraordinary amount of time, and magically you’ll have a wonderful meal’. There are a few rules that I always follow: First, be sure to sear your meat. Browning adds flavor, and those caramelized bits that you scrape off the pot will only add more rich goodness. Second, yes you can overcook a stew so don’t be too generous with the baking time. This recipe is magical around the three-hour mark. A 325F degree oven is low enough to gently tenderize the beef, but not so low that you have to cook it all day. Let the fork-tender test be your guide to ensure juicy meat and just-right vegetables.
I use a combination of potatoes, carrots, beets and parsnips in addition to the garlic and onions. You can experiment with whatever vegetables you like. The combination of beef broth, wine and crushed tomatoes creates the beautiful, rich, thick juice in this Italian Beef Stew. And adding just the right amount of thyme and a bay leaf keep the seasonings simple that won’t overpower the rustic simple flavors that beef stew is classic for.
I’m showing you this recipe made with a chuck roast (look for one with a good amount of marbling), but you can experiment with chunky stew meat, or for even more flavor a 7-bone chuck roast or beef short ribs are amazing with flavors that you can only achieve with bone-in meat. Just remove the bones before serving.
This stew smells so amazing, let me prove it to you; our dog Zelda was close by my side as I was taking the pictures for this piece, not taking her eyes off the stew, hoping I’d drop some or share a morsel for her… She got a nice helping of meat and carrots.
I’m telling you, this is the end-all beef stew recipe with ingredients that are purely simple, but purely perfect together. Just enough juice so you can serve this dish with some nice chunky bread for dipping. But actually a pairing that’s even better than bread? How about some quick homemade dumplings. You can boil dumplings on top of the stew, but I’m stingy with the juice. So I make the dumplings in a combination of a cup of beef broth and a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes in a saucepan, boiling on the stove top. I promise, they’ll be just as tasty as if you plopped them on the stew, but you still get all the stew’s juice for your spoon.
I hope I’ve convinced you to try this Italian Beef Stew because I’m pretty proud of it. Not a quick and easy weeknight meal, but why not have the ingredients on hand and the next weekend morning that you wake up to cold-and-rainy or quiet-and-snowy weather, make this for dinner. Your family may actually look forward to cold weather.
- 3-4 pound boneless beef chuck roast
- 2 onions, peeled and quartered
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, washed and quartered
- 2 medium red beets, peeled and quartered
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
- 3 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups beef broth
- ½ cup dry red wine (optional, may just add more beef broth)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- sliced green onions, to garnish
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Generously season the roast with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add the roast to the Dutch oven and cook until completely browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside. Drain off excess oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pot.
- Add in the onions, garlic, carrots, potato, beets and parsnips and cook for 6-8 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent the vegetables from burning. Pour in about ½ cup of the beef broth and stir around to deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Place the roast back into the Dutch oven and add in the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Pour in the remaining 1½ cups of beef broth, ½ cup wine and crushed tomatoes around, but not over the roast.
- Cover the Dutch oven with a lid and place in the oven to cook for 3-4 hours. About halfway through, check on the roast and if most of the liquid has evaporated, add about 1 cup more of beef broth or water (I almost never have to do this). The stew is ready when the beef is tender and pulls apart easily with a fork.
- Remove from the oven, and break up the meat into serving size chunks, garnish with scallions and extra thyme sprigs.
- Cook's note: Other options for this stew-
- - Leave the roast on the stovetop and simmer on low for 3 to 4 hours.
- -Use already cut beef stew meat. The stew will not need as long to cook with this option. Probably more like 3 hours, max.
- -Use beef short ribs or 7-bone chuck roast. These options are favorite methods, because bone-in options add even more flavor to the stew. Just remove the bones and shred the meat before serving.