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Balsamic beef and root vegetable stew

This is stew at its best for me: rustic and robust with chunks of tender beef and root vegetables in a tangy beef gravy. Balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs from the garden add layers of flavour. Oh ya, baby! A little extra time went into this one, but three hours of slow-cooking in the oven is totally worth it when this is what goes on the dinner table.

Here's how I made it:

1 lb stewing beef
2 heaping tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
splash vegetable oil
4 cups yam, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
2 1/2 cups potato, skins on, chopped into 1-inch chunks
2 cups carrot, chopped into 1-inch chunks 
1 cup onion, diced
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 cups beef stock
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

I started by preheating my oven to 300 degrees (F) and heating the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. The flour, paprika, salt and pepper were combined in a small mixing bowl and the beef was tossed in the mixture to coat. I added the beef to the saucepan and browned the pieces on all sides, then removed the beef to a large, deep casserole dish that has a lid. Then the chunks of yam, potato and carrot were piled on top of the beef and stirred together.

Back at the saucepan, I added the onion, along with the rosemary and thyme, and sauteed for a few minutes to soften. The stock and balsamic vinegar were added and brought to a boil while I used my wooden spoon to scrape all the beefy bits off the bottom of the pot to incorporate them in the gravy. The contents of the saucepan were poured into the casserole dish, I threw a few extra sprigs of thyme on top, then popped on the lid and slid it into the oven for three hours.

The house smelled incredible while this was in the oven, which was nice because it was a grey day outside and I was in need of a little pick-me-up. It was also a perfect opportunity to use the new casserole dish my mom surprised me with. She saw it while shopping at a newly-opened housewares store and couldn't leave it sitting there knowing that I would completely adore its turquoise loveliness! 

Falls seems a natural time of year to enjoy a little extra time having fun in the kitchen, and comfort foods like this are a big part of that for me.

Are you making some fall comfort food already? What's coming out of your casserole dishes? Leave a comment and share your recipe links!