Oven Braised Beef Stew

Wednesday 4 December 2019

We've had some really cold days this past week or so, with heavy frosts on the ground in the morning and the days haven't warmed up too much either.  

Before things get a chance to warm up the sun is setting, and things are chilling up again! Wintry, cold, damp  . . .  these days call for proper comfort food. 


There is nothing we enjoy better on a cold damp night than a hot bowl of soup or stew.  My husband's very favourite is a stew. 

 Stews are lovely. You can make them with beef, or lamb, pork, chicken . . . venison.  Almost any kind of meat is good in a stew. Today I used beef.

My vegetables that I use for stew are pretty simple.  Onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips, swede (rutabaga)  . . .  humble vegetables, comfort vegetables . . . winter vegetables.  I like to cut them into a pretty uniform size.  

I find there is something really mindful standing at the counter peeling and chopping. My mind is usually everywhere else and I am channelling my mom, nan, great nan, etc.  I also add potatoes, but I cut those into larger chunks so that they don't disintegrate in the long oven braising time.

One secret to a really good stew is to brown your meat really well. You will want to do this in batches. 

If you add too much to the pan at a time, it won't brown really well. There is a lot of flavour in the browning . . .  so do it in small batches and . . .

brown it really well.  Once you have it all browned you can add it back to the pan and add the aromatics . . .  (I use a flame proof oven roasting/braising tin with a lid for this.)

By aromatics I mean onions, celery, leek . . .  just bung them into the pan with the meat and cook and stir until the oven has softened . . .

I have a few secret ingredients . . .  you can see them above. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but they add fab flavours!  

The Balsamic adds a hint of red wine  and sweet . . .  the Worcestershire is a bit sharp and the Ketchup a bit of tomato and spice . . . back home I would add a splash of vinegar from a jar of sweet mixed pickles, but we don't get them over here in the UK.

I add the potatoes and some herbs and cover everything with beef stock/bullion, just to barely cover and I show a broken bay leaf right down into the mess.  

Did you know that breaking a bay leaf in half helps to release its flavours?  Now you do  . . .

And that's it pretty much, cover it tightly and bang it into the oven to oven braise for  2 or 3 hours. I check it every now and then to make sure its not boiling dry. 

You can add a little bit more of stock if it is.  The stews done when the beef and vegetables are tender.

The gravy will be nice and thick and beautifully flavoured with all of those browned meat juices and aromatics, herbs, etc.

The vegetables add lots of flavour also  . . .  yummy.

I like to serve it with plenty of crusty bread to help sop up all of those delicious juices  . . . .

If you wanted to you could add a cup of frozen peas to the stew about half an hour before it's finished for colour.    Its delicious either way.

Beef Stew

Beef Stew

Yield: 6
A satifisfying dish on a cool and wet and wintery evening.  Long slow cooking ensures that the meat is melt in the mouth tender.


  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 leek, trimmed, washed and sliced
  • 1 stick celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, sliced in half and then cut into half moon chunks
  • 2 parsnips, peeled, quartered and sliced into 2 inch long bits
  • 1/4 of a small swede, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (rutabaga)
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 1/2 pounds good quality beef stew meat, cut into cubes
  • 2 TBS plain flour
  • 2 pints  beef stock (5 cups, or to cover)
  • 1 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 TBS tomato ketchup
  • 1 bay leaf, broken
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley to garnish at the end


How to cook Beef Stew

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.
  2. Heat 1 TBS of the oil in a large  flame proof casserole.  Add the beef cubes, working in batches.  Try not to overcrowd the pan.  Brown well on all sides.  Scoop out to a bowl and continue to brown the meat until all is browned.  Add the onions and celery.  Cook, stirring until the onion has turned translucent.  Stir in the garlic and cook for about a minute and then  the herbs, seasoning and flour.  Stir to combine.  Cook for about a minute and then add the remaining vegetables and the stock.  Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, Ketchup and Balsamic vinegar.  Add the bay leaf and cover tightly.  Pop into the preheated oven and oven braise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours at which time the vegetables and meat should all be tender.  Remove and discard the bay leaf.  Spoon the stew into heated bowls to serve.  Crusty bread goes very well!

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I confess one thing I have always loved to do with stew, since I was a child is to mashe the potatoes up in that stew gravy . . .  and if I am feeling a bit indulgent I will dot  a bit of butter on top so it melts down into everything.  Yes, I AM naughty like that sometimes!


  1. I would also add a Star Anise into the pan, that brings a real warmth to the dish.

  2. I've tried lots of stew recipes looking for the stew my nan used to make when I was a kid. Every stew I've tried was not that good and nothing like nans but omg this is it. Old fashioned stew its absolutely the best stew all my kids love it and their friends as well. I cant recommend this stew enough

    1. Thanks so much Louise! I am so pleased you enjoyed it. I thank you for taking the time to come and share your experience! xo

  3. All hail to this glorious stew! As a cb child (and still now at 69), I loved to mash up this gorgeous stew on my plate and heap on the butter. Drove my mom wild, but that’s what I wanted.

    1. You and I must be twins! I Love to mash up my stew as well and heap on the butter! Seriously tasty! High five! xo


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