This stew is one of my go-to recipes every winter. It’s easy, delicious, and filling, and is a special delight on a cold day. Leftovers are even better the next day and it freezes well for easy meals later on.
I say “recipe,” but it’s not so much a recipe as a process. The ingredients change depending on what I have on hand. Sometimes I use pork instead of beef, sometimes sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. Though if you make that change I recommend not using the carrots. Sweet potatoes, beer, and carrots all together make it a little too sweet.
Pre-heat the oven to 400. Season the meat with salt and pepper then sear it in an oven-safe dutch oven with a little oil. Cheap cuts of stew meat are best. They’ll fall apart and become tender with cooking. However much you want to use is fine. I usually work with anywhere from one to three pounds. Work in batches to sear it if you have too much for your pot to comfortable handle. Transfer it to a bowl for later.
Chop up your veggies. Whatever you have on hand and like in stew is good. Start with potatoes and onions. For this batch I used two large potatoes and a really big onion. Large dice for the potatoes, wedges for the onion. Add them to your pot to cook in the meat fat. Add a little more oil if you need it. Cook until the onions wilt and the potatoes turn golden, stirring now and then.
Meanwhile, chop up your carrots and celery and some garlic. Toss them into the pot with the potatoes and onions and give it all a good stir. Season with salt and pepper and let it cook for a few minutes. Not long, just to mingle a bit. 5 minutes or so.
Add about a cup of stock to the pan and stir, scraping the bottom to scrape up and meaty bits that got left behind. Sprinkle some flour over the veggies, about a tablespoon, I think. Stir it all up and add the meat back to the pot. Be sure to include any juice that’s in the bowl, too. Yum.
Add your beer. Normally I use a 12-ounce bottle of stout, but we had a bottle of Rogue Voodoo Doughnut leftover that we didn’t really like in a glass, so I added the whole 22-ounce bottle to the stew. Plus, I had about 3 pounds of meat, so more beer was a good thing. You be your own judge. If you add a 12-ounce bottle of something and it doesn’t seem like enough, add another bottle or add some stock.
Give it all a good stir and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add a bay leaf, cover, and transfer the whole pot to your pre-heated oven. Let it bake for at least an hour. If you take it out after an hour you have gravy, you’re ready to eat. Or you can let it bake for longer and eat later. Longer will make the veggies mushier, but it’s stew so who cares?
It’s better if it cools for 10 or 20 minutes before you eat it. That gives you time to boil some egg noodles to put it over, or make mashed potatoes or rice or some other grain to ladle it on top of, or you can just eat it in a bowl with some thickly buttered crusty bread. It’s your stew; you can do what you want.