Your first clue is that I'm not posting a recipe. You know. With amounts of ingredients and stuff.
Nope. This is not a recipe. It's a procedure.
(We'll talk about amounts in a few minutes. But don't look for a recipe - there isn't and never has been a recipe for this. I completely made this up. LOL)
One of the best compliments I've ever received in my life came from my father, years ago. He was visiting us for a few days and I made this beef stew for dinner. He told me it was the best beef stew he'd ever tasted and he asked me how I made it.
Simple. I totally cheat. I completely take the easiest way out. This is one of the least labor-intensive meals I make and my whole family loves it.
You can click on the photo if you need a closer look.
And disregard Cameron's mini bagels in the cookie jar.
I don't put those in my beef stew.
For my stew, I use beef stew meat, flour, salt and pepper, canned diced tomatoes and canned sliced carrots and canned diced potatoes.
Did I mention I use canned vegetables?
Oh! And McCormick's beef stew mix! Yeah. That's my big secret ingredient. You'll never see a bay leaf floating around in my beef stew.
A word about beef stew meat. It can be a little pricey unless you catch a sale. Amazing what they add onto the price because they cut it up for you. It's almost always more economical to buy an inexpensive roast, say bottom round roast, and cut it into chunks yourself.
The amount depends on how much meat you're using.
I'm using about four pounds of beef, so I used a cup of flour
and a generous dash of salt and pepper.
I almost said a "healthy dose" of salt and pepper, but of course that's an oxymoron.
Except for the pepper. Pepper is good for you. I hope.
and shake the living daylights out of it, until all the meat is coated.
You might want to close the ziplock bag first.
I've been known to forget that little step
and it isn't pretty, my friends.
and brown the meat, a little at a time.
I make sure I don't overcrowd the skillet because I need
to turn this meat quite a bit, and I don't want it all sticking together.
Note that I use that big slotted spoon thingy
to remove the meat from the flour mixture.
This utensil is great for shaking off the excess flour.
It says to put three cups of water in your pot and add the mix.
I'm making a seriously big pot of beef stew because,
well, I always make seriously big pots of stuff. Always.
So I'm using four packages of stew mix and twelve cups of water.
As long as you stick with this ratio, three cups of water per package of mix,
the amount of meat and vegetables you use is entirely up to you.
That slotted spoon thingy is also great
for lifting food out of
This is a very good time to mention that I usually make this beef stew
in my crockpot. I let it cook, at this stage, for eight hours.
I was in a hurry this time, so I cooked in on the stove.
At this point, the only thing in my pot is the water and stew mix
and the floured and browned and drained stew meat.
I've covered the pot and set the burner at just above simmer.
The secret is this. If you cook this for a few hours,
say three hours, the meat gets so tender it practically melts in your mouth.
Or your father's mouth.
There's absolutely no way the meat in your beef stew will be tough and chewy.
I like to put diced tomatoes in my stew. But I drain them first.
I don't want the tomatoey juice in my stew but I do want the flavor of the tomatoes.
I only add potatoes and carrots. And here's why I use canned potatoes and carrots.
If you use raw carrots and potatoes, you pretty much have to boil them first.
Otherwise, they end up being a little too crisp. At least for me they do.
So for me, it's easier to just buy canned vegetables.
Peeling potatoes isn't one of my favorite things to do anyway.
Here's where your own likes and creativity come into play.
You can obviously add any kind of vegetables you want to add.
I steer clear of green beans and corn and such because
I prefer a hearty, thick beef stew
that doesn't even come close to resembling vegetable soup.
It's the old, "Is it soup, or is it stew?" thing. :-)
I drain them practically dry. I don't want to add any more liquid
and run the risk of having to put a bay leaf in my stew
to bring the flavor back. LOL
I know some of you would be more comfortable if there were an actual recipe here with exact amounts of what to use.
Trust me. As long as you use the correct ratio of water to stew mix, all the rest is up to you. If your family likes a lot of meat in stew, put more meat it in and cut back on the vegetables. And vice versa. Really. This is failproof and you can't make a mistake.
You can clearly see that I base the amount of ingredients I add on how much room I have left in the pot. When it gets to the top, I'm good. LOL