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Old Fashioned Beef Stew

Braising is my favourite cooking method. I just love the way it can transform an inexpensive, tough cut of beef into a tasty tender stew. Toss in the earthy flavours of root vegetables and aromatic red wine, and you are well on your way to a rich flavour base. But the real secret to a truly memorable beef stew is patiently browning the meat.

Serving: 4 - 6 servings


2 pounds stewing beef
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly grated pepper
a splash any vegetable oil
a few carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
a few stalks celery, roughly chopped
a few potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
a few parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
a few onions, peeled and roughly chopped
a 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
1/2 bottle hearty red wine
3 or 4 cups homemade or canned beef broth
a few bay leaves
few sprigs fresh rosemary
1 jar pickled baby white onions, drained
few handfuls frozen peas
another sprinkle or two of salt and pepper


Preheat a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, pat the beef dry with a clean towel and then cut it into large cubes and season it with the salt and pepper.
Add a splash of oil to the pot—enough to cover the bottom in a thin layer—and toss in enough meat to form a single sizzling layer. Sear the meat on every side until it’s evenly browned.

Be patient when you’re browning the meat; it takes a little time but it’s worth every minute. The caramelized flavours are the secret to a rich hearty stew. As the meat browns, remove it from the pan, adding more oil and meat as needed.

Once the meat is done, discard the remaining oil but keep all the browned bits in the pan; they’ll add lots of flavour to the stew.
Add half of the vegetables—reserving the other half—and all the meat back to the pot. Add the tomatoes and enough wine and beef broth to barely cover the works. Add the bay leaves and rosemary and bring the pot to a simmer.

Continue cooking until the meat is almost tender, about 1 hour, then add the remaining vegetables, the baby onions and the frozen peas. Adding the vegetables in 2 batches allows the first batch to dissolve into the stew while the second retains its shape, colour and texture. Continue simmering until the meat and veggies are tender, another 30 minutes or so. When the stew is tender, taste it and season as you like.


  1. Tania said: On Jan 6, 2014

    I just made this stew. I followed recipe but put it in crock pot all day . It does not look thick like in picture . Should I have used flour to dredge meat prior to cooking and maybe that would have thickened the stew more? Did anyone else have this problem . The flavour is great .

  2. Donna said: On Dec 15, 2013

    Chef, I made this recipe and it was the best stew I’ve ever tasted. I have been making stew for years and your braising tip was exactly what I wasn’t doing. What a difference! I used all the ingredients and the broth was rich, deep in flavour. I topped it with a few crumbles of blue cheese and WOW! I served it with a full bodied red wine and crusty bread. YUMMY! Thank you!

  3. Cindy said: On Dec 11, 2013

    Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe! We love this above any others that we have tried!

    I also want you to know that your show is very comforting to me. It helped me get through my battle with cancer in 2008. I had half of my tongue cut out, plus chemo and radiation. I couldn’t eat for several months. What I loved about your show was the simplicity, peacefulness, and you always looked like you were enjoying what you were making. I found comfort in watching your food simmering or baking and could almost taste it…
    It was therapeutic for me. Thanks again Chef Michael! God bless you and your family!

  4. Rondie said: On Sep 30, 2013

    What an amazing dish. The trick of adding 2 batch’s of veggies was great as the first batch dissolved and helped thicken the stew to a beautiful consistency. I would definitely recommend this recipe to any novice cook as prep and ingredients are very common and easy to prepare. I also added button mushrooms & corn cut from the cob with the second batch of veggies. Thxs Chef for a new family favorite.!!!

    • Jay said: On Jan 6, 2014

      Michael please revise your instructions are we suppose to cover or uncover when we cook for the first hour?

  5. Jessica said: On Sep 30, 2013

    Hi there. Question, for anyone out there. I forgot the canned tomatoes yesterday and am considering adding just overly rip toms. Should I go through the process of blanching and removing skins, or just core them and toss them in?? Opinions and knowledge would be appreciated! Happy cooking!

    • Ron said: On Sep 30, 2013

      It is a lot easier to run to the corner store and get a can. If you are outside city limits then I would take the time to peel the tomatoes. 28 ounces is about 12 medium sized tomato’s. The reason for canned and not fresh, is that canned tomato’s are picked and canned at optimal ripeness and ensures quality without the hassles. Hope this helps. Enjoy this great recipe.

  6. Mi said: On Sep 30, 2013

    Help. When I see pickled onions in the grocery store, they are labelled either sweet or sour! Which do I use?? Thank you :-)

    • Jessica said: On Sep 30, 2013

      I’m a classic, kind of girl, and won’t be adding the pickled onions. Just the raw yellow variety with the other vegetables. If I had to it would be the sour variety for the “tang” I would guess.

  7. MelanieAnne said: On May 14, 2013

    DO NOT add pickled onions to your stew! I have been making a great stew for many years and thought I should switch it up – this doesn’t work. Here is the thing that does work – a pinch of allspice or cloves with your basic recipe will send it over the top.

  8. Countrygirl said: On Mar 5, 2013

    Wow, just finished making this stew. I did such a great job that I feel like I’m Micheal Smith lol. Trick is defiantly to
    Be patient and not keep lifting the top on and off. I also added turnip to mine, I suggest trying that. Gave a nice varity of hardy vegetables. Stew is the best thing to make when your veggies are on their way out. This recipe is absolutely amazing! I’m glad I came
    Across it!

  9. Mark said: On Jan 28, 2013

    I’m still working on mine but it looks fairly runny too and smells like it’s gonna be rather sour. I’m still not sure if you cook with cover on or off? I’m also wondering if the Pickled baby onions was supposed to be tossed in with the juices or just the onions? Said one jar so I opened it and tossed the entire contents in. Any help or tips would be great and I’d hate to think I might have a nasty batch of Stew…lol.

    • J said: On Feb 1, 2013

      I’m wondering covered vs uncovered as well. As for the pickled onions, the instructions say without the juices:

      1 jar pickled baby white onions, drained

    • Tania said: On Jan 6, 2014

      Recipe said drain pickled onions before adding

  10. Julia said: On Jan 27, 2013

    I just threw out my entire pot of beef stew that I made last night (took me most of the evening…) because it was awful!
    I followed the recipe to the T but it was runny, tough and bland.
    My husband put on a brave face but neither of us could finish a bowlfull. Thumbs down.

  11. donna said: On Dec 1, 2012

    i’m right in the middle of it….cover or not?.. i’m afraid it’s getting too ‘boily’…d

  12. Judy said: On Nov 30, 2012

    I’m not generally a huge fan of stew, but this is the BEST stew I’ve ever made! And I didn’t even need my crock pot to make the meat super tender. I don’t know if it was the wine or the amount of time that you cook it, but it’s amazing! This recipe will be in my weekly rotation from now on!

  13. Earl said: On Oct 28, 2012

    I seem to get a lot of liquid when browning the beef. Should I just remove the beef, discard the liquid, then continue?

    • Grace said: On Sep 15, 2013

      Keep frying until all the liquid is evaporated, then add a little oil and fry until browned. The supermarkets are selling meat ‘seasoned’ these days which means they are injected the meat with salt water so that water has to all evaporated before it can begin frying. Ugh!

    • Jane said: On Jan 6, 2014

      You may have too much meat in the pot. Only sear off the meat in small batches, let each piece of meat get completely brown before turning over and don’t turn until it comes off the bottom of the pot easily. I am making this recipe this weekend.

      But first make sure to use a paper towel to completely dry the meat.

      Cold here in Ontario and need some comfort food. Stew, crusty loaf and chocolate cake for dessert. Yummy!

  14. keith said: On Oct 28, 2012

    Hi Micheal : just had the stew….turned out exceptional..great concept with the brazing tech…..found it better then the flour dredging…CHEERS..say Gid-day from the Ottawa Valley cook to your good wife and GABE ! thanks again for a great supper…ttus….

  15. Alis said: On Aug 1, 2012

    i’ve tried it today. but, some of ingredients i didnt, i juz cooked it with all ingredients i had in the kitchen.’s yummy!! thanks Mr Smith!

  16. Rodney said: On Jul 8, 2012

    Hi ! I started cooking several years ago after watching one of your Chef At Home episodes. Since the I have tried to catch all the episodes. I particularly like the segments where you introduce foods at the supermarket or how to make a particular sauce etc. Picked up invaluable cooking tips n food knowledge from you. Love your programs. Many thanks ! Keep them coming ….

  17. Fina said: On May 8, 2012

    I’m new to cooking real meals and have few skills. I was intimidated by the idea of making a stew for the first time, but this stew was amazingly easy and delicious. Top recommendations. Thank you, Chef Michael.

  18. Dan said: On Apr 23, 2012

    Your beef stew recipe turned out very well, for a mid week family meal. Michel your batting two for two now, a while back I used your recipe for cooking a Prime Rib Roast. As I’m just retired, and the Mrs. plans on me cooking meals through the week now, I will be abusing my new friend from PEI, recipes. But just the uncomplacated one’s. Thankx Dan

  19. Michael said: On Jan 8, 2012

    Hi Michael,

    For beef stew, what are your thoughts on browning the beef with some Australian sherry? My wife and I do this whenever we make stew as it adds really nice sweet undertones to the beef. Give it a try. I think you’ll like it :)


  20. Dorothy said: On Jan 8, 2012

    All you have to do is highlight the parts you want to print…click on Copy…..go into windows word or where ever you want to print this recipe in….click on paste…and you will have a printer friendly copy.

  21. Ron said: On Oct 21, 2011

    Best Beef Stew ever. Thanks for your laid back shows and great food adventures

    • Carole said: On Dec 13, 2011

      This is the best and easiest (one-pot) stew I have ever made. It was wonderful to see my husband’s smile when he tasted it. I really like everything about Micheal Smith and his style and recipes.

  22. Ruth-Ann said: On Feb 9, 2011

    Wow! Tried this today but cooked it in my slow cooker and it was amazing! Finally I have a beef stew recipie that we really, really like! Thanks you Michael and hubby thanks you too! :)

    • Shelly said: On Jan 19, 2013

      Ruth-Ann I was wondering if you added half the veggies like the stove top recipe says when you did this in the crock pot? I am going to make this in my crock pot tomorrow and wasn’t sure if I should just add all the veggies in at the beginning.
      Thank you.

      • Janeen said: On Apr 13, 2013

        Hi Shelly, I have made this recipe a few times (both pot and slow cooker) whenever I do it I add two batches of vegetables as per the recipe. The first set will almost melt into the stew and the second set will retain flavour and shape. I also add dumplings and a considerable dose of smoked paprika. To die for! Make sure to use a good wine because a Lot of flavour is absorbed from the wine.

      • Vikkie said: On May 2, 2013

        wondering if anyone has a recipie for a dumpling that is just a simple dough that is rolled very very thin, then lots of butter is spread over the dough, then it is rolled up jellyroll style till the dumpling is a roll about 3 inches wide, it then is cut into 4 inch pieces and cooked by steaming them on top of the meat and broth. The veggies are taken out, then added back after the dumplings are cooked

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Old Fashioned Beef Stew
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You may use any combination of root vegetables you have on hand. You may use any cut of beef that’s labelled for stewing, simmering or braising. Try using fresh thyme instead of rosemary. You can also stir in several sliced green onions at the last second for a burst of colour and flavour. Shredded aged cheddar cheese or tangy blue cheeses are a great topping for each bowl.