Beef Stew

Beef Stew

This beef stew is from Julia Child's first column in Food & Wine, and is a classic deeply flavorful long-simmered dish.


  • 3 pounds trimmed boneless stewing beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 chopped fresh Italian plum tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup strong beef stock or broth, plus more as needed
  • Red wine, such as Chianti or Zinfandel
  • All-purpose flour as needed (optional)


  1. Toss beef pieces in a large bowl with salt, crushed black peppercorns, and thyme. Add onions, carrots, garlic, and olive oil. Toss thoroughly, then toss again with red wine vinegar. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Dry beef pieces with paper towels and place on a plate. Transfer vegetables and any accumulated marinade to a large skillet over moderate heat and cook until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy frying pan over moderately high heat. Add beef in batches and cook until well browned all over. Return meat to bowl and scatter cooked marinade vegetables on top, along with tomatoes and bay leaves.
  4. Discard fat from pan used to brown meat. Deglaze pan with water and simmer for a moment. Using a wooden spoon, scrape flavorful brown bits from bottom of the pan into liquid and pour over beef. Pour in beef stock or broth and enough good young red wine to almost submerge ingredients. Cover and refrigerate stew overnight; the wine marinade will only improve its flavor.
  5. Bring stew to a simmer on stove, then transfer to a 300°F oven; stew should just barely bubble. Cook until beef is fork-tender (take an occasional small bite to be sure); about 2 1/2 hours. You can stop the cooking at any point and continue it later if needed. Let the stew cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Using a spoon, skim solidified fat from surface of stew. Reheat stew, then strain hot cooking liquid into a large nonreactive saucepan. Press on cooking vegetables, which will have disintegrated considerably by this point. Taste sauce for strength and seasoning, and boil down rapidly if it tastes weak; you should have about 2 1/2 cups.
  7. If the sauce is too thin, thicken it with a slurry: for each cup of sauce, you'll need 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour blended in a bowl with 1 1/2 tablespoons cold beef stock. Whisk dribbles of hot sauce into slurry, then whisk slurry mixture into sauce. Simmer for several minutes, then pour warm sauce over warm stew and simmer for several minutes before serving.

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