By Cassie Johnston
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Growing up, on the rare occasion that my parents went out for the evening, my brother and I would always eat canned beef stew for dinner. We never had those kinds of processed foods growing up (I was very fortunate to grow up in a household that put a lot of value in high-quality, home cooked food), so opening up a can of beef stew for dinner felt very novel. I remember thinking it was pretty much the tastiest thing on the planet.
It’s weird how the grass is always greener on the other side. As a kid, I was obsessed with processed food—because it was something I never had. So whenever I’d go over to a friend’s house and they’d have pizza rolls or chips or whatever other food that never made an appearance in my parents’ kitchen, I’d be all over it. Then, I moved away to college, and all I really ate was processed food, and all the novelty quickly wore off. I started to desperately miss the home cooking I grew up with. I think I even tried a can of stew in college and took one bite before throwing it in the trash—it definitely wasn’t the tasty treat I remembered from my childhood.
The first time I made beef stew at home as a newlywed, I realized, “Oh hey! This is what beef stew is supposed to taste like!” And I haven’t bought the canned stuff since. Beef stew sounds like one of those foods that would be complicated and difficult to make, but it’s actually incredibly easy. They key is slow-cooking—either in the actual slow-cooker or on the stovetop. Low and slow cooking gives the stew a roasted flavor and makes sure the meat and veggies are fall-apart tender. And it cooks the gravy up into a thick and smooth sauce that is what dreams are made of. Beefy, gravy dreams.
I tend to swap out the new potatoes that you’ll usually find in beef stew for sweet potato chunks because not only do I like the festive orange color (perfect for October), but I think the touch of sweetness is a really nice balance to the richness of the beef. Sweet potatoes and red meat work incredibly well together.
I personally think beef stew should be served with a slice of sandwich bread slathered in butter—it’s perfect for sopping up all that leftover dreamy gravy. My Canadian husband says the right way to serve stew is with biscuit-style dumplings plopped in it (which sounds delicious, although I’ve never tried it). Whatever you do, promise me you’ll have some sort of bread vessel to scoop up all that leftover deliciousness, okay? No gravy left behind.
3.7 from 3 reviews
Sweet potato beef stew is a healthy twist on a classic cold weather dish. Serve this up with bread to make sure you get all the delicious gravy!
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I had homemade beef stew and canned beef stew growing up – the canned was always served with a mound of buttery egg noodles by my father, on nights when he felt like “cooking” but didn’t want to actually “cook” past heating something up. It was delicious, and special, but mostly because it gave me a reason to eat a mound of egg noodles covered in gravy, you know?
My grandma’s beef stew, however, was a thing of absolute beauty. It was from the days when all she had left in the fridge or freezer was a pot roast or a beef bone and she threw it into the pot with whatever vegetables were left, chopped ’em all up and seasoned them just right and left it to cook on the stove all. day. long. It was a torture of magnificence to smell that simmering away all day. I remember getting caught lifting the lid and sniffing at it because I just loved the way it smelled. We served that with plain white bread with butter (sometimes just dropped, butter side down, on top of the bowl for extra dreaminess) or if she had leftover biscuit mix, she’d make the dumplings.
Essentially, I’m saying that I know your beef stew feels, and I can’t wait to throw this recipe in my slow cooker and relive my homemade beef stew childhood! I can just smell it now….
Suet dumplings with any kind of stew (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/beefstewwithdumpling_87333) the most comforting of comfort foods!
Having said that, British cooking sometimes has a bad reputation and badly made suet puddings could be part of the reason! Properly done though they are really good!
I love coming home to a warm slow-cooker stew this time of year. ALWAYS with a crusty roll and butter to wipe up the gravy! :)
This recipe looks delicious, thank you for sharing! I’ve never cooked with wine because my family doesn’t like the flavor (why, I cannot even understand!!) Is the wine necessary or is there a substitute? And what type of wine do you use?
REd wine is almost always used when cooking with red meat and game, as the smokey fruity taste really brings out the flavours, for red wine i don’t know a substitute but the flavour at the end is meaty rather than winey, give it a try and don’t mention it i doubt they’ll notice
REd wine is almost always used when cooking with red meat and game, as the smokey fruity taste really brings out the flavours, for red wine i don’t know a substitute but the flavour at the end is meaty rather than winey, give it a try and don’t mention it i doubt they’ll notice.
however if you really want something different to wine, add some lea and perrins (worcestershire)
A dark beer can be a great substitute for red wine in a beef stew.
I’m so excited about this recipe! I’ve suddenly developed an intolerance to tomatoes (my heart is broken!!!) and I’ve been trying to think of recipes without them. This and your drunken beef stew (still my all-time favorite) will both be on the menu as soon as the cold weather gets here.
I made this last night and it is awesome! Even my husband who is not a big fan went back for seconds. The only thing I did differently was I didn’t brown the beef and I didn’t put any flour in it, but added tomato paste and threw it in the oven in my dutch oven at 300 F for 3 hours.
* Not a big fan of sweet potatoes :)
I love a good beef stew or pot roast, but I have a guilty admission. I really make it for the gravy and GRAVY BREAD! I am completely with you on the bread v dumpling issue.
I am in the process of stewing this right now. I used beer instead of wine, and added Worcestershire sauce. I love Worcestershire. Also my kids asked for dumplings-which I have never made. Wish me luck!
worcestershire sauce is amazing! i still used wine, but i think that the worcestershire sauce was the sincher!
thanks for sharing this amazing recipe! I was just looking in the internet for a recipe of a stew that would be similar to the one I used to cook with my friends when I was living in Spain and this is exactly the same, except from the sweet potatoes, but I prefer them, so it’s just perfect! I can’t wait to start cooking! Congratulations on the photos!
Am trying this in the pressure cooker tonight!!
I love a good beef stew in the winter time–and anything that can be done earlier in the day when I’ve got more time is very appreciated. I love the color of the sweet potatoes–so bright and pretty!
I love how this stew is packed full of goodness! Love all the sweet potatoes…yum!
This sounds great! It’s funny how we may think that the way we ate something when we were growing up is the way everyone eats it. We always had some wonderful cornbread with our stew. It’s still great to sop up the gravy!
I made this today. I was really excited about making a stew with sweet potatoes. I also added some parsnips to the recipe, but followed the recipe outside of that edition. I didn’t know what wine to use, so I used merlot. The broth wasn’t as savory or as thick as I would have liked. If I made this again, I wouldn’t use more than a cup of wine. It was the most overpowering flavor in the stew.
I just made this for dinner tonight and it was the first time i have had stew that tasted as good as it smelt!!
I really think it was the sweet potatoes! they actually added flavour to it rather than normal potatoes which seem to leach the flavour out of stew.
I also added mushrooms and a healthy glug of Worcestershire sauce to give it that earthy kick. I definitely recommoned it for any dish with beef in.
thank you for this yummy dish!
The recipes time is listed as 2 hours, but the steps say 6-8 hours. Way to proofread.
The stovetop time is 2 hours, slow cooker time is 6-8 hours.
Making this for the second time right now. I make it just as written, minus the wine, and it is amazing! I’m giving half to my co-worker tomorrow. I love to share recipes that I think are delicious. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. Sweet potatoes and beef are made for each other.
I have just shared the recipe with my sister-in-law and we have a date to try it out. Wish us luck!
I’m all set to make this but have one question. Your recipe calls for 2c wine, but the instructions say to add the “wine mixture.” What is the wine mixture?
Sorry about that, just a typo! It should just be “wine”. Fixing it now!
Thanks! :) I’m making this with moose meat; very excited to eat this on a dreary Alaskan evening.
So, I made this using my crockpot and ran it overnight. After 8 hours, I’ll admit that this turned out more as a soup than a gravy. Could it be because I only used 1 large onion, 1 sweet potato, and 2 massive carrots? (My crockpot wasn’t large enough for all the veggies listed in your recipe!) I ended up using a Cabernet Sauvignon for my wine, but the wine taste is quite overpowering. Any suggestions on how to save this dish??
Bleh. I was thinking while reading the recipe that thyme and deglazed meat drippings with red wine don’t exactly sound like they would blend well together. They dont. At all. Flavor was just a mess.
This was totally delicious the original way, but when I made it a 2nd time I left out the flour and I added hot Italian sausage to give it some heat. I also threw in 3 cans of kidney beans and that thickened the sauce up nicely. That was a trick my mom used to use. I put in some green peppers just because I had them on hand and some chili powder to give it a little kick. Hmmmm… I guess I changed it a lot, but I tend to do that. It was fantastic and my husband kept sneaking bowls of it out of the kitchen :)
Very good! I threw in a few chopped mushrooms at the outset because I had some on hand. And I ended up adding a bit of tomato paste (from a tube) at the end because I like tomato in beef stew (or maybe to balance the mushrooms). It’s meat heavier than I’m used to, so I also tossed in some baby greens at the very end that I also had on hand (I had a bag of baby spinach, kale and chard), Anyway, thanks for the recipe. Very tasty!
Love your modification ideas!
For those who do not like Onions, what do you recommend we replace it with?
I’d just leave them out. :)
Best stew I ever made.
I made this in the slow cooker. We ate it, but didn’t love the recipe. Two cups of wine was too much—the stew had a strong wine flavor that my family didn’t care for. I worried about the sweet potatoes getting over cooked and that’s what happened. They should be added part way into the cooking. I ended up pureeing some of the broth, onions, and sweet potatoes to give it a slightly thicker consistency, and that worked out well. It tasted a bit oily; I think it will be better the next day (as with any stew), with some of the grease removed.
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