Secret Ingredient Beef Stew

By • February 1, 2010 • 73 Comments

3,326 Save


Author Notes: I created this recipe for a dinner party I was co-hosting with my sister. I took a lot of steps to make the stew as savory as humanly possible. These steps included: carefully browning the meat; adding great proportions of veggies, including mushrooms and leeks; and stirring in a surprise ingredient: anchovies. The result was delicious, and I served it over buttery, parslied orzo and accompanied by crusty bread. - SmallKitchCaraCara Eisenpress

Food52 Review: This savory, rich stew may be named after one secret ingredient, but it's because of a complex mix of components that it succeeds so well. Tomatoes and tomato paste give it a sunny sweetness, diced veggies lend texture, and red wine and vinegar brighten everything up. Anchovies, the "secret ingredient," are briny and buttery, giving the sauce a smooth, complex finish. We recommend using beef with generous marbling for the best results. - A&MA&M

Serves 8-10

  • 5-5.5 pounds beef stewing meat, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/3 cup mixed olive and canola oil
  • 2 leeks, washed well and cut thinly
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 celery ribs, diced
  • 4 ounces white mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 anchovies
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup canned whole tomatoes with juices
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper on both sides. Brown the meat in batches in a 5-6 quart Dutch oven over high heat, adding more oil as needed. Remove to a plate.
  2. Lower the heat and add all the vegetables. Cook for 5-10 minutes until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and anchovies and cook to melt the anchovies and distribute.
  3. Add the beef back in, with its juices. Add the wine, vinegar, and tomatoes with juice (breaking them up against the side of the pot as you go) and bring to a boil. Add the stock to cover (you may need a bit more than 3 cups). Put in the salt, bay leaf, thyme, bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.
  4. When cool, skim off much of the fat from the top. Reheat over low heat, letting the stew simmer 30-45 minutes before serving.
  5. Mix in half of the parsley and garnish with the rest.
Jump to Comments (73)

Tags: can be made ahead, serves a crowd, winter

Comments (73) Questions (4)

Default-small
Default-small
Default-small

about 1 month ago marymary

Made this yesterday with anchovy paste and it was awesome! I had to use chicken broth (32 ounces) and added red potatoes and lentils. I will definitely make this again with beef broth.

Stringio

2 months ago Joanette

Really liked it! Is is really like a soup stew.

Bananacakewithtangyvanilla

7 months ago cookingintheheights

fun to see that my original comment on this thread was four (4!) years ago. has this site been around that long!?? just wanted to comment back now to say that i recently made this again (and have done so many times in intervening years) only this version used mushroom broth instead of beef broth and...it works really well! thanks again for the great recipe.

Img00019-20100929-0432_1_

8 months ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

I made this recipe sometime ago, but didn't leave feedback. The recipe is absolutely delicious. Not your typical beef stew in the sense that it has chunks of vegetables or a starch (potatoes) to make it typical. Succulent beef chunks in a tomato-based, tangy broth with aromatics. Nothing wrong with that. It lends itself perfectly to serve on top of buttered egg noodles, mashed potatoes, rice or orzo. It's a flavorful tender beef preparation. Highly recommend!

Default-small

8 months ago Ronni Alvarez

Wow! This was the best beef stew recipe I've ever made.

Default-small

8 months ago John Oakley

prepped and put in the slow cooker this morning...just had it for dinner and was simply delicious. served with an arugula salad with meyer lemon vinaigrette. happy.

Default-small

9 months ago Debra

I have to say I didn't love this. The meat was tender and all... I just found the sauce to be too vinegary....

Port_online

9 months ago SunBunny

Looks A-mazing! Thanks for the inspiration!

Default-small

9 months ago Johnny Ringo

I loved this! The only change I made was to substitute some red miso paste for the anchovies, since I didnt' have any.

P1000082

10 months ago Mike C.

Loved it! I added red cabbage....other wise I pretty much followed the recipe here.

Stringio

11 months ago Teamarie

Amazing!! I used grass-fed chuck from my cousin's cow (tends toward tough), and after a long low simmer on the stove, it was like butter. Amazing flavor! It's bookmarked for the future, for sure! Used half the meat, added turnips, served it with a healthy portion of mashed potatoes...yum!!

Default-small

11 months ago lisa

Oh, and I did it in a Le Creuset and after simmering it on the stove for a while, I put it in the oven at 300-degrees, for another hour or so. You'll know when it's done! The meat falls apart as it should and the broth is amazing.

Default-small

11 months ago lisa

This is a great recipe. I happen to love a great beef stew, and have many favorite versions (including an excellent one from Judy Wicks' White Dog Cafe Cookbook). So I am particular about my beef stew recipes. But this is just wonderful. That zip of anchovy really does elevate the whole dish. My only suggestion is to use half the beef called for in the recipe, and also throw in some large-diced yukon gold potatoes, but follow the rest to a T. (But then, I like a lot of sauce.)

Open-uri20140706-15986-11cdu3v

about 1 year ago Margo

Made this last night, so delicious and hearty. I had egg noodles on the side. yum Yum Yum! I followed recipe exactly :)

Ecm_profilepic

about 1 year ago ECMotherwell

This is SO good. I make it with a few modifications (personal to my own family's tastes, no mushrooms, add in potatoes, use a whole can of whole tomatoes) which I don't think change the spirit of the recipe. It's brilliant, a family favorite. Thanks for sharing, SmallKitchCara!!

Smokin_tokyo

over 1 year ago BoulderGalinTokyo

Thank you for sharing your secret idea stew. I was hoping for extra umami in taste but we feel our regular beef stew recipe, heavier on tomatoes, less beef stock, no vinegar, more spices, is much tastier.

Default-small

over 1 year ago Teo

Great recipe with nice, flavorful broth. But, a warning. When everything was assembled I put mine in the oven (in a LaCreuset) at 300 for the braise, and when I checked it an hour later it was boiling like crazy. That might be my oven's fault - I've got to get a thermometer to check on it - but in general it seems to cook true. When I saw what was happening I took the stew out and put it on stovetop to simmer, but the damage was done. Dry meat :(

Moral of the story - whether you simmer or put your stew in the oven, look in on it after 15-20 minutes to make sure the heat's right.

Default-small

over 1 year ago Musebe

Can this be made faster in a pressure cooker?

Default-small

about 1 year ago ascherl

I haven't made this recipe but I always make my stews in a pressure cooker - prepare as per recipe and cook 30-45 min at high pressure (will be very fragrant when ready). I always use natural pressure release when cooking meat. Works fantastically well!

Stringio

over 1 year ago Sarah Killion 1

Made this for family last night. Delicious!

Default-small

over 1 year ago BillHummel

bill's daughter,;
i say.......
IT'S SOOOO GOOOD!!!!!!!!!! my doggie was glad to have some. :)