I try to avoid controversy, I really do. That said, I do have one opinion that could easily get me in trouble.
I think beef stews can be kind of bland.
I don’t know what it is—maybe certain ingredients dull the flavors of the seasonings, or maybe the ingredients themselves aren’t handled in the best way. Regardless, it made me want to figure out a way to improve on this age-old standard.
A few tips that might help you in this process:
- First, the beef. Look for a chuck roast that has a lot of marbling. That fat equals flavor in your stew. (Don’t buy the packs labeled “stew meat”. You could slow-cook that stuff for a week, and it still wouldn’t be tender.) You might want to consider seasoning it a few hours ahead of time, so the salt really has time to soak into the meat before you cook.
- Speaking of seasonings, I like to use a blend that I grew up using called “Ono.” The name is Hawaiian for “delicious,” and it absolutely fits! It goes well on everything from sautéed veggies to steak, and it brings out the natural flavors of your food in a unique way. I’ve had a hard time finding it up here, though, so I’ve developed a recipe for a copycat version of this blend using ingredients you already have in your pantry!
- Another thing—don’t throw away your celery leaves. These fronds will give you a huge boost of nutrition, containing calcium, potassium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. Whether you add these to a sachet bag to steep in the stock (like I do here) or chop up a handful to add to the stew directly, these greens will add a rich layer of flavor to your stock.
With the weather being frightful in so many areas, this one-pot stew will be a perfect way for you to warm up with your loved ones!
Dutch Oven Beef Stew
3 lbs chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2” cubes
1 1/2 TBSP Copycat Ono seasoning (see below for recipe)
2 onions, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced thick
4 stalks celery, sliced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp black peppercorns
Leaves of 4 stalks of celery
8 cups beef stock
4 cloves garlic
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 TBSP cornstarch mixed with 1 TBSP water
Place a large Dutch oven on medium-high heat with 2 TBSP olive oil. Evenly sprinkle the Ono seasoning onto the chuck roast cubes, and add the roast to the Dutch oven in batches, searing evenly on all sides before removing the meat to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium, add a little more oil, then add in the onions. Cook and stir frequently until onions are caramelized, then add in the carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Pour in the stock, garlic, red wine vinegar, and cornstarch slurry.
Make a sachet bag out of a piece of cheesecloth, and fill it with the bay leaves, thyme, black peppercorns, and celery leaves. Tie it tightly, and submerge it into the stock.
Cover the Dutch oven, and simmer on medium-low heat for at least 2 1/2 hours, up to 4 hours. When you’re done cooking, remove the sachet bag. Crush the garlic cloves and stir them gently through the stew. Serve immediately.
Serves about 10 people.
Copycat Ono Seasoning
2 TBSP coarse sea salt
2 rounded tsp coarse-ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
Combine all ingredients, and store in an airtight container. Makes about 1/4 cup.