Hearty Beef Stew by Lawrence Andrew Andersen

Hearty Beef Stew

Rich Tomato Gravy

The basic recipe is from my father, Lawrence Andersen. This was one of the staples - a frequent and welcome meal he often prepared - while we kids were growing up near the now extinct orange groves of the San Fernando Valley. This stew is a bit different from most others because it has a tomato sauce based gravy. It is what we kids came to know as beef stew. Once, when invited to dinner at a friend’s house, they served their brown gravy version of beef stew. It was delicious but somehow seemed all wrong. Since then I have learned to make the brown gravy kind of stew and often do but my favorite is still the tomato based version I first remember as a child. For a slow cooker version of this recipe, click here.

Preparation and Cooking: 1 hour 30 minutes Heirloom Recipe
Makes 6 to 8 main dish meals Lawrence Andrew Andersen
  • 2 pounds lean stew beef
  • 6 plum-sized onions
  • 8 stalks celery
  • 1 can (28-ounces) crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 8 medium carrots
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 can (29-ounce) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 beef bouillon cubes
  1. Peel carrots and potatoes; trim and de-string celery. Cut carrots and celery into 1-inch long pieces. Cut potatoes into sixths, about bite-sized. Peel and trim onions. If using large onions leave whole while cooking and cut into quarters to serve.
  2. Place vegetables, except for the peas, into a large pot. Pour in tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Add enough water to just cover. Heat to almost a boil and then lower heat to maintain a simmer. Fiold and stir often.
  3. Butcher prepared stew beef is certainly an option but I do prefer to cut up a roast, usually for a lot less money per pound and I know what I am really getting. Cut the roast into bite-sized pieces.

  4. Place flour and spices in a plastic bag or shaker box. Place stew beef in the bag or box and shake to coat the beef with the flour and spice mixture. Let floured meat morsels stand for a few minutes to let the flour adhere to the moist meat surface. Heat vegetable oil to cooking temperature in a frying pan. In batches, place the beef in the frying pan and brown all sides.

  5. Transfer the browned beef to the pot with the vegetables.
  6. Deglaze the frying pan with a cup of wine or broth. Scrape up the browned bits and add to the vegetable and beef mixture.

  7. Mix 2 tablespoons of the remaining flour and spice mixture with a few spoons of water to make a paste. Add the vegetable-tomato mixture in the big pot.
  8. Add the beef and the pan drippings to the large pot with the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often, or until vegetables are tender. By the time the vegetables are tender, the tomato and flour should have thickened to make a nice thick sauce for your stew. To avoid over cooking and make mushy peas, put the peas in a small pot and cover with water. Heat to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain and add to the stew mixture in the last few minutes of cooking.
  9. Crackers are always a good accompaniment with stew but a freshly baked loaf of crusty bread is even better.

    The listed ingredients and amounts are just enough to fully fill a 5-quart Dutch oven. If you add a few more potatoes or other favorite items you will need a much bigger pot. Cast iron Dutch oven, crock pot or just any-old big pot on the stove, the stew always seems to comes out right, flavorful and satisfying.

    A bowl of red beef stew, some fresh baked buttered crusty French bread and a nice glass of wine; what more could a person want for dinner?

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