Finally, I make a decent beef stew


After a few years of buying attractive looking cook books only to leaf through the pages once or twice before forgetting about them completely, I made a commitment to try a new recipe from one of my books every two weeks.

Here is my latest attempt:

The Recipe: Beef Stew from the Step by Step Cook’s Encyclopedia. And before we go any further, I should tell you how much I love this cook book (not a sponsored post, Scouts honour). The instructions are very simple and each step has an accompanying photo so you can see exactly what the dish is supposed to look like as you make it. Like this:

Time and Date: A wet, cold and miserable afternoon on Thursday 5th’s January. Started preparing food at 3pm, meal was ready to serve at 5:30pm.

Expectations: Were low. I have made beef stew several times before but with very mixed results. Sometimes the meat is too tough, sometimes the potatoes are too hard and nearly always; my sauce is very weak and watery. My experience of cooking beef stew has been, in a word, frustrating.

Difficulty Level: Easy – especially with the pictures in the book., I would have made things even easier for myself again if I had chopped up all of the veg and ingredients before I started instead of doing them as I went along. The one thing I did differently this time is that I set aside the meat after I had browned it. Normally I skip this step to save on washing up…. which might be why I had problems before!

Any Personal variations to the recipe: I added a leek and a generous splash of Worcestershire sauce.

Results: A hearty warm stew, with soft potato chunks in a rich thick sauce. Hurrah! This felt like such a win for me, especially because Rob loves a good stew and has had to step in several times in the past to rescue my watery offering. (His stews always turn out fine)

Who ate it: Rob, Orla and I ate it for tea yesterday with garlic bread and then had the left overs for lunch today with slices of buttered Tiger loaf. I was especially pleased that Orla happily ate a bow full, leaving only a few of the bigger chunks of meat. Nearing 2 she is getting more particular about what she will and won’t eat, so finding something that she seemed to like is a big hit with me!

Would I make it again: Already adding it into our family meal planner.

3 responses to “Finally, I make a decent beef stew”

  1. Sharon avatar

    Hi Cathy, as a big fan of hearty stews, chilli etc, I think you would benefit from a slow cooker. They are inexpensive and great for anyone who leads busy lives. You just need to put all the ingredients in the pot in the morning, turn on…..and leave. I would not be without mine. Also when stews say add water, just add half what it says, or even none at all. The veggies in the stew will create plenty anyway. Glad your stew turned out good. I love a hearty stew!

    1. Cathy avatar

      Hi Sharon, I have a slow cooker but I get really mixed results from it. Everyone tells me it is really simple but I keep ending up with really bland meals. I don’t know what I am doing wrong! Maybe it is putting too much water in? I do find slow cookers good for keeping food and mulled wine warm at parties though!

  2. Sharon avatar

    Maybe it is the water thing. I agree, they are great for keeping things warm and making mulled cider too. 🙂

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