Mmm…Beef stew. Those of you that love it know what I mean! Not only is beef stew a hearty comfort food, it can also be healthy when made from scratch with high quality, nutritious ingredients….like grass-fed beef and beef broth, organic veggies and herbs, and cold pressed olive oil.
In this homemade beef stew recipe, I prepare the beef a little differently… instead of dredging it in flour and searing it over high heat in butter, I roast the beef in the oven at a low temp after marinating it in olive oil and dry rub. This helps keep the beef tender, as well as the stew gluten free! I also make my beef stew with organic marinara sauce to thicken it while adding tomato nutrition and savory garden flavor.
Usually I recommend leaner meats in my recipes; but with stew, you want a cut of beef with more fat and collagen to keep it tender. They key here is to choose beef that’s been raised under sustainable standards…grass fed, no growth hormone, no preventative antibiotics, and humanely raised with enough time spent grazing in the pasture. Personally, I like to purchase locally raised beef to support my community and help keep the smaller farms with healthier, more humane practices in business.
Ready to get started? Here’s what you’ll need…
Healthy Beef Stew Ingredients:
*Use organic produce, when possible.
- 1 to ½ lbs local, grass-fed or organic beef meat (stew meat: shoulder, short rib, chuck or brisket), sliced into 1” cubes
- Cold-pressed olive oil – extra virgin or flavored olive oil (I like garlic, rosemary or jalapeño garlic oils with beef stew)
- 1-2 leeks or 1 medium onion, chopped (about ¾ to 1 cup)
- 4 or 5 stalks of celery, sliced into ½ ” pieces (about 1 cup)
- 5 – 8 carrots, sliced into ½ ” pieces (about 2-3 cups)
- 3-6 potatoes (depends on size), sliced into ½ “ cubes (about 2 cups)
- 1 jar organic marinara sauce (more if using a slow cooker)**
- 4 to 8 cups organic beef stock/bone broth
- 2 to 3 tsp Mexican Spice Blend
- Beef dry rub:
- 2 to 3 teaspoons Savory Salt Blend
- ¾ tsp sugar (sugar helps tenderize the beef)
- 1 tsp Mexican Spice Blend
- ½ tsp cinnamon (use for tougher cuts)
- Optional add ins:
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 15-oz box or can of chopped tomatoes
- Splash of high quality red wine
- 1 cup green peas (frozen is fine)
- Turnips, peeled and chopped into ½ “ pieces (about 1 cup)
- Fresh herbs – Rosemary, thyme chopped and for garnish
**Use marinara sauce for an herby and slightly sweeter flavor and arrabbiata sauce for a spicier stew with chili heat.
To Make The Best Beef Stew Ever – Stovetop Version:
I use a saucepan on the stove to make this stew, but you could easily use a slow cooker (see slow cooker directions below).
- Prepare the beef – Remove from fridge and pat it dry. You can cut it into chunks before roasting it, or slice it up after it is cooked, prior to adding to stew. Make the beef dry rub in a small bowl. Place beef into glass oven-proof dish and toss it with a thin layer of olive oil of choice, then sprinkle it with the dry rub. Let the meat sit for 15-20 minutes to tenderize, and preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- Cook the beef – 15-20 minutes if cut into small pieces, and up to 1.5 hours if a roast. Set aside until step # 4 below is done.
- Prepare the stew veggies – wash and slice, chop or dice the leeks or onion, carrots, celery and optional turnip and garlic. I would peel the turnip because the outer layer tends to be quite tough, but – if you’re okay with the flavor – pass on peeling the carrots and potatoes. Not only does it result in less work, but skin-on means more nutrients!
- Start making the veggies – To a large saucepan, add 3 Tbsp olive oil and sauté the onions, celery, carrots and optional garlic on low-to-medium for several minutes until the onions are translucent. In another saucepan, boil the potatoes in filtered water until tender, then drain and set aside.
- Put all beef stew ingredients together and add broth. When the potatoes are done, add them and the beef to the veggie mixture and stir well. For best flavor, include the beef juices from the roasting pan! Next add enough beef broth and tomato sauce to cover the veggies and meat – more if you like a thinner stew. Raise heat and bring stew to a light boil, then simmer on low for about 10 minutes.
- Season and serve. Taste beef stew and season to taste with Mexican Spice Blend and Savory Salt Blend. Ladle into individual bowls, then drizzle each with olive oil of choice for added flavor and richer consistency. Garnish with fresh basil, thyme or rosemary.
To make Homemade Beef Stew in a Slow Cooker:
For an even easier beef stew that you can set and forget, marinate the meat as in step # 1 above for 15-20 minutes. Then, put all ingredients except the carrots and potatoes in a slow cooker and set to a low or medium temperature for 4 to 8 hours. Add in the carrots and potatoes about 2 hours before serving. As this beef stew recipe tends to have more richness when made in a slow cooker, you may want to add another half or whole jar of organic tomato sauce for balance. Season to taste, then serve!
Suggested Pairings for Healthy Homemade Beef Stew
Although this beef stew contains a good amount of healthy veggies, I like to enjoy it with a green salad or sautéed veggies or greens for added fiber and health-boosting nutrients. For recipe ideas, check out these pages:
- Making delicious, healthy salads with olive oil dressings
- C-Power Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad Recipe
- Lemon and Rosemary Power Greens Recipe
- Bright & Bold Fennel and Orange Salad Recipe
To your health! From my heart to yours,
P.S. Don’t miss a beat on delectably healthy eating – sign up to receive Vervana emails and get healthy recipes and exclusive offers delivered to your Inbox – including 10% off your first order!
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Additional reference: Gritzer, D. Stew Science: How to Choose the Best Cuts of Beef for Beef Stew. Seriouseats.com, last accessed Feb. 16, 2021.