Please Note: I don't use things like measurements, weights, or even a strict recipe when I cook. So if you're looking for those sorts of details, this post won't help you. If however you're a more intuitive cook and like to play around with the ingredients on hand... Forge ahead!
This stew is the result of coming across a very good sale on a top sirloin roast at the grocery store and inventing from there.
Prep Time: ~45 mins
Cooking Time: ~3-6 hours
Essential ingredients: Beef roast, Onions, Oil, Flour, Broth/Bullion, Water (everything else you can improvise)
I believe, a big part of what makes this stew amazing is the quality of the meat going in. Start with "stewing beef" and it will likely be unsatisfactory. I'd therefore recommend starting with a really good roast. I used Top Sirloin both times and probably wouldn't recommend anything else.
The amount of meat you get will largely dictate how much of the other ingredients you need to add. Gauge accordingly.
Time to Cry:
This all needs to start with onions. For my fairly sizeable roast I chopped up three large onions. Do this first and get them in the pot to cook because they take a long time.
I chop them fairly fine but they don't need to be diced. The standard rule of thumb I follow for stew is to cut everything about the same size. I'm roughly aiming for 1cm cubes for everything.
I'm going to thicken the stew with a roux later made from the oil in the next step, so I'm adding a lot more oil than you normally would.
It's a bit hard to see, but the onions are almost covered in oil here.
Put this on to cook stirring frequently until the onions are at least translucent or better yet getting brown.
It took almost 40 minutes for me, but that was great because there is a lot of chopping and slicing to come.
If you want to add some of the spices part way through this stage - that should be fine... or not... it really doesn't matter too much.
Cube the Beef:
Slice the beef into cubes. I spent years doing this when I had many cats (different story) and have a technique I really like. First, use a plate rather than a cutting board (makes cleanup easy because you just plop it in the dishwasher when you're done) Cut steaks from the roast and lay one of these on the plate. Then lay another on top of the first. Cut that one into strips using the one below as a meat-cutting board. Then chop the strips into cubes. If you get good at this you can do several at once. Cut the last one last - it will be all scored from being used as a meat-cutting board... but who cares!
As you can see from the image below I've also removed as much fat, sinew, etc from the roast as I could.
Those onions are probably still going (don't forget to stir) so you can start chopping up veggies. Use what you have handy.
I would say that Garlic, Mushrooms, and Potatoes are a MUST, but I had carrots and peppers so I added those. I even had some leek, I wish I had some celery but I didn't so no matter. Use what you have, get creative!
Again, chop everything into roughly the same size cubes, (except the garlic: crush that!) but don't add anything to the stew just yet.
A note on crushing garlic. The best garlic crusher I have ever had in my life is one of these. It's simple to use, EASY TO CLEAN, and works great.
Once the onions are getting brown, move on (brown brown for flavour flavour! don't rush this part if you have the time)
Lick-ety Thick (Oil Trick!):
For years I learned to make a roux using butter, in a separate pan from the main thing you were going to thicken. That almost always resulted in lumps, a second dirty pan and unsatisfactory results. Recently I found a much better way. Use olive oil and just do it all in the same pot.
Now that your onions are ready, simply sprinkle flour on top of it all - Mix it with a spatula. I have never had this lump, even if I walk away for a bit before I get around to stirring. It's foolproof. Add enough flour to make it reasonably thick (ya that's the technical measurement)
the result should look something like the picture below when you pull the spatula through it.
All Mixed up Together in a Pot!
As soon as that is done you can add the beef, stir just a bit and then the broth. I used chicken broth because I have a lot of it after roasting chickens (I always make broth from the bones) but you could use bullion cubes and water, mushroom, beef, or any other sort of broth. You're going to want something more than just water or the stew will likely be too bland.
Get the broth in there pretty quick to prevent the flour mix sticking to the bottom of the pan.
After that you can add everything else. Your veggies and spices. Here is what I added for spice:
Seasoning salt, Kitchen bouquet, Worcestershire sauce, Sriracha, Pepper, and extra beef bullion
The Secret Ingredient!
Can't have a recipe without a secret ingredient. Mine is coffee (espresso to be precise) A good long-pull shot of espresso is fantastic for almost any beef dish. Don't put a pot of coffee in or it will be overpowering.
Add this to the stew, add enough water to make it "a bit more wet than typical stew consistency" and bring it up to a simmer.
You can't really over-cook this, just keep the temp low (you could even transfer it to a slow cooker at this point) and let it simmer for hours and hours. I usually make mine on my lunch-break and have it for dinner 4 hours later - ish.
I hope you enjoy it. (It freezes very well too.)