When it’s only 10 degrees outside and you can hear the wind howling, it’s time to think comfort food. There’s something just so comforting about a big pot of beef stew and a skillet of homemade cornbread or a pan of buttermilk biscuits in the oven. The house seems cozier, the smell is wonderful and you feel warmer knowing that in a few hours you’ll be sitting down to a big bowl of the best comfort food ever! I make my stew thick just like my Mom did. What made her beef stew so incredible? Her secret was browning the beef in bacon fat which made the velvety gravy flavorful and so delicious.
Mom's Country Beef Stew
3 lbs. boneless beef chuck
4 thick slices Applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
2 Tbs. canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots cut into chunks
3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups beef stock or broth
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon. minced fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 lbs. baby Yukon Gold potatoes
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the beef into 1 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.
Add the oil to a large Dutch oven or covered pot and fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp and browned, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside.
Pour the bacon fat into a heatproof bowl. Return 2 tablespoons of the fat to the pot and heat over medium-high heat. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper. Brown the beef cubes on all sides until no longer pink. Do this in batches so you do not crowd the pot. Transfer the beef to a plate.
Add another 2 Tablespoon of bacon fat to the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and let it melt.
Sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Gradually whisk in the beef stock until blended. Add the tomato paste, parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Return the beef to the pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce the oven heat to 325, cover the pot and place in the oven, and cook for 2 hours.
After two hours, cut unpeeled potatoes into 1-inch cubes or if they are small enough, add them whole. Stir and recover the pot. Continue cooking until both the meat and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes more. Remove bay leaf. Season the stew with salt and pepper. Enjoy
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