Beef stew is one of the all-time comfort foods, and is a favorite meal, particularly in the wintertime due to its hearty warmth, gravy, and large portions which can be eaten consecutively over several days with the flavors only improving over that time.
While beef stew is certainly a favorite, however, it’s true that favorite dinners and recipes can often become slightly boring or stale, especially if they’re as reliable and popular as beef stew is.
One of the best ways to keep your food fresh and your dinner guests happy is to put a new spin on your favorite recipe, and it’s amazing just how many different beef stew recipes there are, as different cultures have put their own twist on the rich flavors that beef stew uses as its base.
From hearty traditional European recipes to spicier, more refreshing South American recipes, there is a beef stew out there to suit exactly your dining needs, and in this guide, we’re going to look at 15 of the best options available to you.
Each of these recipes is some form of beef stew, but many of them offer a unique twist or addition to help you impress your dinner guests and offer something new and surprising, as well as to help you develop your own ideas for your beef stew and inspire you to experiment with different flavors and textures you may not have considered previously when making this dish.
But without further, ado, let’s look at the recipes themselves and all the amazing flavors they have to offer.
One of the simplest and most classic ways to add some extra flavor to a beef stew is to use red wine in the sauce, which adds a ton of richness and a more complex flavor that perfectly complements slow-cooked beef.
The great thing here is that adding wine to your recipe isn’t too complex and as long as you use the right amount you will elevate your existing sauce and make the stew far more enjoyable.
For a lot of people, one of the most famous red wine stews is beef bourguignon, the most famous French beef stew that uses burgundy red wine.
Traditionally this stew is made with cheaper more flavorful cuts of beef which need to be braised or slow-cooked for longer to allow them to tenderize, while also allowing the flavors in the sauce to fully develop.
For many Americans, the quintessential French stew is boeuf bourguignon—beef cooked in Burgundy red wine.
The stew, featured regularly at Jacques Pépin’s mother’s restaurant, was made from tougher, cheaper cuts of beef, which had to be braised a long time to get tender and to stay moist.
Another very popular and delicious French stew is Pot-Au-Feu, which is French for ‘pot on the fire’, the traditional method of cooking a stew of pot roast before ovens and gas stoves.
It is considered one of the national dishes of France and is among their most celebrated dishes, being eaten by rich and poor alike for its nostalgia as much as its delicious and well-developed flavors that come with a long cooking time.
It is a dish commonly served in the winter like a lot of stews and is most delicious when incorporating two different cuts of beef, the shank, and rump, along with some marrow bones.
Cook the aromatics, leeks, and carrots traditionally, in a separate pot with some marrow bone until everything has tenderized, then you can combine the ingredients and add some horseradish and sour cream to make a garnish that cuts through the richness of the main dish.
Beef and leek stew is a very popular dish in Rioja, Spain, where chefs and cooks find the additional sweetness of leek, as well as its aromatic nature and acidity, helps to cut through the richness of a beef stew and also brings some unique texture to the dish.
It is common to add a little paprika, (pimenton is ideal) and some peppercorns to create a gentle and warming layer of spice and smokiness that only adds to the hearty warmth of this amazing winter dish.
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One of the things stew is famous for is taking the cheaper cuts of meat and braising them for a long time to help tenderize the meat and develop the flavors, maximizing the overall richness and flavor of the dish.
If you’re looking to add even more flavor or a more expensive cut of meat to your stew, ribeye is a great choice as it’s a very flavorful cut of meat with a lot of good fat that adds richness and texture to the stew.
Ribeye is slightly more expensive than most cuts of beef, however, the additional cost of ribeye is due to the higher quality of the meat, which will become extremely tender when used in a stew, and the additional fat which will add a lot more flavor than cheaper beef cuts.
While hunter’s stew is most commonly prepared using venison and venison stock, this dish can easily replace these with beef and be just as, if not even more delicious.
As with all stews, the meat is braised to make the meat nice and tender, however, hunter’s stew uses Madeira to add extra flavor. The result is an amazingly flavorful stew with nutty notes and wild rice for the addition of a crunchy texture.
Asian beef stew is a great way to bring a host of new flavors to your mealtime, and the great thing about this option is that there are so many ways to tweak the recipe and make it your own.
Typically Asian stews are more brothy and a little more refreshing than other types of stew, and the addition of spices, lemon juice, and fish sauce can make the stew unique and delicious, suitable for eating at all times of the year.
Classic beef stew is the quintessential stew beloved by almost everyone for its hardiness and warmth in the winter months.
It’s real comfort food, using cheaper cuts of beef well cooked over a long period of time for an amazingly tender texture on the meat, and the delicious flavor that this kind of meat can bring to your table.
Adding your own garnish and vegetables, from leeks and potatoes to coriander and other herbs allows you to make use of whatever flavors you like.
The great thing about this stew is that it can be eaten over several days if refrigerated and this only improves the flavor of the meal while also making it convenient for meal preparation.
We’ve already discussed how red wine can add a lot of flavor and richness to your stew, but using port or fortified wine can add even more intense flavors for people who really want to lean into that rich, deep flavor that wine can add to a stew.
Using chuck for this recipe is ideal to create the right blend of flavors, and marinating it overnight can help develop even more flavor as well as tenderizing it before it’s cooked slowly in the port and garnished with mushrooms.
If you’re looking for a different beef cut to add to your stew and want something a little more decadent, short rib is a great choice for the sweetness of its juices and flavors.
The meat here is heavily marbled allowing the flavors to develop into incredibly rich blends of sweet fat and the umami of the beef itself, which comes out amazingly well after a nice low and slow braise.
Again, if you’re after something a little different, looking towards Asia and its unique flavors is a great place to start.
Going with slow-cooked Korean beef, accompanied by pickles and cabbage is a great way to create a refreshing and delicious stew with more crunch and texture than a lot of traditional stews, making the dish more palatable during the warmer months.
Another French culinary tradition for stew is to pair the meat with red currant jelly and cream, a dish which is known as grand veneur.
Traditionally this is prepared with boar or venison, but it works just as well with pork or beef which should be braised in wine to cut the sweetness of the jelly and cream.
A classic stew from Belgium, this dish is known for its caramelization as well as its sweet and sour flavors brought out by the combination of onion and ale.
A good dark Belgian ale would work best, but any strong dark ale can be used if this isn’t available. The result is an incredibly rich stew with unique flavors as well as a slightly thicker texture.
Another comforting and delicious option is the beef and swede casserole, which combines the crunch and sweetness of swede with the richness of beef to create a hearty and warming dish that works very well when prepared with additional seasonal greens.
Another alcohol-related recipe, this is very similar to Flemish beef stew but substitutes dark Belgian ale for a strong Stout such as Guinness which is one of the world’s most famous and popular examples of this rich and flavorful beverage.
For something less heavy and a little spicier, consider the Peruvian beef Estofado, a dish of slow-cooked beef packed with spices and herbs, as well as tomatoes, broad beans, and cannellini beans for a ton of protein and fiber.
Beef stew is one of the most popular dishes across the world and has many variations and recipes that allow you to take a lot of inspiration from different cultures as well as classic traditional recipes depending on your needs and tastes.
The beauty of beef stew is that it’s versatile, cheap to make, and delicious, and can be eaten over the course of several days so it’s also really convenient.