This classic French beef stew is the ultimate cold weather comfort food. After a few hours in the oven, the meat becomes meltingly tender and enveloped in a rich wine sauce.
With over 4,000 5-star reviews, this classic French beef stew is the all-time most popular recipe on my website. It is the ultimate cold weather comfort food. Chunks of well-marbled beef are seared in a hot pan, then gently braised with garlic and onions in a rich wine-based broth. After a few hours in the oven, the meat becomes meltingly tender and enveloped in a deeply flavorful sauce. It takes a few hours to make, but the recipe is mostly hands-off. Go ahead and make it a day or two ahead of time; the flavor improves the longer it sits.
This stew is part of my classic French recipe collection, which includes similar slow-cooking comfort food recipes, like coq au vin and red wine braised short ribs, and impressive main courses, like steak au poivre or roast beef tenderloin with red wine sauce.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE BEEF STEW WITH CARROTS & POTATOES
The most important thing is to start with the right cut of meat. You want to buy chuck roast that is well-marbled—that means it should have a good amount of white veins of fat running through it. Stay away from meat generically packaged as “stew meat,” especially if it looks lean (I can guarantee you it will not get tender, no matter how long you cook it).
For the wine, use any dry red (Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.) that is inexpensive but still good enough to drink.
HOW TO MAKE BEEF STEW WITH CARROTS & POTATOES
Begin by removing any large chunks of fat that are easy to get to (like the one my knife is pointing to below), but don’t overdo it with the trimming, as the fat helps make the beef tender.
Next, season the meat generously with salt and pepper.
Heat a bit of oil in a Dutch oven or large pot and brown the meat in batches.
This step is a bit time-consuming but browning the meat adds depth and dimension to the stew. (Note: it’s important not to crowd the pan — if you try to brown all the meat at once, it will steam instead of sear and you won’t get all that lovely color and flavor.)
Remove the meat and add the onions, garlic, and balsamic vinegar to the pan. The vinegar will loosen all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and add flavor.
Cook until the vegetables are softened, then add the tomato paste and cook for a minute more.
Add the beef back into the pan and sprinkle with the flour.
Stir until the flour is dissolved.
Add the wine, broth, water, thyme, bay leaves, and sugar.
Bring to a boil, then cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, add the carrots and potatoes.
Return to the oven and continue cooking for one hour, or until the meat is fork-tender, the broth is thickened, and the carrots and potatoes are tender.
Feel free to adapt the recipe to your liking. You can leave out the potatoes and serve it over buttered egg noodles, or toss in some frozen peas or sautéed mushrooms at the very end. Either way, it’s soul-satisfying comfort food for a cold night.