Ahh, beef stew. One of the the ultimate pleasures of cold weather. So simple, so delicious, and so filling.
To me, beef stew must be just that - Beef stew. No fancy stuff. No "extra" spices, or funny named vegetables. Nope. The most exotic thing that goes into my stew is Worcestershire sauce (which makes it delicious).
This recipe is from the one and only Paula Deen. The mother of food (in my opinion anyways). I love that woman. Not only is she not afraid of things like butter, but I watch her and just think "Oh please, please would you be my grandma??"
And this is the best stew ever.
A note about choosing meat for your stew: You can go pick up a package of pre-cut stew meat but chances are you'll get a better price if you find a hunk of cow and cut it up yourself. Look for something fairly fatty with lots of marbling (the lines of fat going through the meat). This will give you the ultimate flavor and that fall-apart-in-your-mouth texture once the fats break down during cooking. You don't want a nice cut of lean steak for this. This is one of those dishes where cheap cuts shine.
2 pounds beef, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
3 C water
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder (or a minced clove)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
Dash of allspice or ground cloves
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 small-medium potatoes, chopped
In a large pot, brown meat in about 2 tablespoons of oil. Add onions, water, Worc sauce, bay leaves and spices. Bring to a boil, then cover, drop the heat and simmer for about an hour and a half. Add in the vegetables and simmer another 30-40 minutes or until they are tender.
If you like a thicker gravy mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with about 1/4 C cold water. Add some of the hot liquid, then stir into hot stew and let come to a simmer again.