Beef stew is the benevolent king of all stews. Familiar yet never tiresome, chunks of tender beef and potatoes in rich brown gravy will always bring comfort and joy to our tables. Little things are what elevate a good stew to become a great one. Taking time to sear the beef is integral to flavor in both the meat and the gravy, as is letting it simmer low and slow until the beef is spoon-tender. Busy cooks might be tempted to purchase packages of so-called stew meat at the market, but it pays to follow this recipe and take a few minutes to cut up an economical chuck roast. Stew meat is a mixture of scraps left over when a butcher trims a range of cuts to go in the meat case, and these random pieces won’t cook the same way or finish at the same time. The uniformity of a well-marbled chuck roast yields consistent results and the best flavor. Originally, this recipe called for the stew to be cooked in a wok, which was trendy at the time. We prefer using a Dutch oven because it provides a large, flat surface to properly brown the meat.
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 cups sliced yellow onion (about 2 medium onions)
1 (12-oz.) can pale beer (such as Yuengling Traditional Lager)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon steak sauce (such as A.1. Original Sauce)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1⁄2-inch pieces (about 4 medium potatoes)
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl; dredge beef in flour mixture. Heat half of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high; add half of beef, and cook until browned all over, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and beef.
Add onion to Dutch oven, and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in beer, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme; bring to a boil. Add beef; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until beef is tender, 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours.
Stir in potatoes and carrots; cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in peas; cook an additional 2 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Top each serving with chopped parsley, if desired.