Homemade is Better—Beef Stew Redo

I decided to make beef stew a while back.  It was a rainy, cool day, and something hardy was starting to appeal to me.  I followed my last recipe, but then I thought about how I could improve it.  I think this could be a metaphor for life, really.  The changes to this recipe are minor, but I found that they had a significant impact on the result.

As cooks, once we start getting confident with our recipes, we begin to see where we can adjust to improve them.  Not every addition or subtraction will benefit, and some will be negative.  But unless you make a mistake, you won’t learn; a lesson I keep telling my kids.  In cooking, it’s the mistakes that sometimes result in amazing dishes.  Chocolate Lava cake is one example.

As the story goes, the man who claims to have invented it pulled a chocolate sponge cake out of the oven too early, and the center was warm but runny.  Another somewhat famous mistake is the sandwich.  It is said that John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich in the 18th century, did want to leave a poker game he was playing.  Still, he was getting hungry, so he ordered a servant to grab two slices of bread and some meat in the middle.  From there, everyone at the table started asking for the same thing.  So, our mistakes can turn out a masterpiece or blunder.

When I made this previously, I wasn’t as happy with the liquid-to-solids ratio.  So, I made some changes to improve the dish, and it worked out so well that I thought I should update my stew recipe.

Beef Stew Redo


2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp flour
2 lbs eye of round, cut into ½“ chunks
1L of beef stock
2 medium carrots – peeled and diced
6 – 8 medium yellow potatoes – peeled and diced
1 large onion – peeled and diced
4 cloves of garlic – minced
1 can of lager (355ml)
1 small can of tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp parsley
2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper

  • Grab a 5qt Dutch oven or large pot, place it on a burner and turn the heat to high.
  • Add the canola oil and salt and pepper the beef while we wait for it to heat up.
  • Add the beef a little at a time, do not crowd the pan.
  • Once the beef is seared on all sides, remove it from the pot and set it aside.
  • Add the onions and garlic and sauté them until the onions start to turn translucent.
  • Add the carrots and start to heat them as well. Give them about two minutes, then add the beef back in.
  • Sprinkle the flour over everything and keep mixing for another two minutes.
  • Add the beer and stir the bottom of the pot to release all the delicious brown bits that have stuck.
  • Add the tomato paste and mix it up.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir.
  • Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for two to three hours.
  • Once you are ready to eat, taste it, and if it needs a bit more salt, add some.
  • Additionally, this dish can be made ahead in your crockpot. But you’ll still need to follow directions one to 10, then transfer it to the crock pot to finish. If you make this the night before, you can rest it in your fridge, then put the crockpot on in the morning before leaving.
[The Homemade is Better column got a few recommendations this year. The funny thing was, most of them were actually for recipes published in previous years, not 2022. Some things are timeless, it seems.  This recommendation, however, was found in issue 3025, right at the beginning of July. It’s simple, but tasty, and well suited for the Best Of edition.]