Nothing quite beats a warming bowl of stew on cold winter nights. You want something hot, nourishing, deeply savory with pops of bright herbs. And this Beef and Bacon Stew recipe hits all the right marks. In the end you have an easy recipe with tons of flavor.
What is it?
Like most stew recipes, this version is a savory combination of tender meat and sweet root vegetable served in a thickened broth. Fresh herbs, red wine, and a bit of bacon give the stew a deep and lingering flavor.
It’s delicious when you serve it with sourdough bread, a crisp green salad or dollop of sauerkraut, and a glass of red wine.
Why this recipe works
- Bacon lends a lovely smoky, salty flavor which gives the stew a bit of an edge.
- Starting the stew on the stove and transferring it to the oven allows the stew to simmer slowly means meat turns luscious and tender and is a pretty hands-off way to cook.
- Fresh bay and thyme bring some bright, herbal flavor to the stew.
- It’s family-friendly, and generally well-liked.
- It cooks up in a single pot, meaning fewer dirty dishes.
- It’s better the next day, and is a great dish to make ahead and reheat when you’re hundry.
Any good stew recipe relies on a few key ingredients. Typically you’ll find meat, vegetables, a thickener (although some stew recipes, such as Bo Kho, do not use thickening agents), liquids such as beef stock or wine, and herbs or spices. You’ll simmer these ingredients together for at least an hour, sometimes longer, until they produce a thick, hearty stew.
- Grass-fed beef chuck roast works particularly well in this recipe. Chuck is a cheaper cut with lots of flavor, and its high collagen content means that it produces a silky, gelatin-rich gravy.
- Bacon provides a smoky, salty richness while bacon grease is perfect for searing off the meat.
- Vegetables include pearl onions, potatoes, and carrots although other root vegetables work well, too.
- Liquid ingredients include both bone broth and red wine. They give the stew a luscious richness.
- Gelatin, added toward the end, helps to thicken the broth, giving it a silky mouthfeel.
- Herbs include bay leaf and thyme. They lend a bright, herbal note that provides balance to stew’s savory, earthy flavors.
Where to Find Grass-fed Beef
Wild Pastures delivers grass-fed and pasture-raised straight to your door. They have good prices and work exclusively with American farmers practicing regenerative agriculture.
As with most stews, this Beef and Bacon Stew recipe is easy to make. You’ll crisp some bacon, brown some beef, add broth and wine then some vegetables before letting it simmer gently. It takes a few hours of mostly hands-off time, and produces lusciously tender meat and vegetables, and a gorgeous herb-scented gravy.
But there are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind.
- The cut of meat matters. Chuck roast is what we recommend as it’s flavorful and affordable, but the key is to use meat with a fairly high collagen content. Collagen comes from connective tissue, and it makes for tender meat and silky broth.
- Shoulder bacon works the best as its leaner than bacon cut from the belly, however both work well.
- Timing matters. Add the vegetables toward the end of cooking so they soften enough to be pleasant to eat, but not so much that they fall apart.
- Deglazing the pan makes a big difference. After cooking off the beef, you’ll add the wine and broth. Take care to deglaze the pan, loosening any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan as that’s where all the flavor is.
- You’ll use both the stove and the oven. You’ll start the recipe by cooking off the bacon and seasoned beef on the stove, transfer to the oven so that it cooks low and slow, and then finish it off on the stove which allows you to add the gelatin.
Variations + Substitutions
Consider adding rosemary. Rosemary works well in place of thyme and bay (or in addition to them). Its citrusy, herbaceous flavor is a natural match for red wine and beef.
Add mushrooms in place of some of the beef, keeping in mind that you’ll need to decrease the liquid ingredients slightly. Or try this Mushroom Stew Recipe.
Make it gluten-free by swapping in all-purpose gluten-free flour or rice flour.
Use all-purpose einkorn flour in place of regular all-purpose wheat flour. Einkorn is an ancient grain with a high nutrient content and a rich, nutty flavor.
Swap celeriac or parsnips for the potatoes, and serve the stew over mashed potatoes instead. These root vegetables have a delicious, earthy sweetness that’s a natural match for beef, bacon, and herbs.
If you don’t cook with alcohol, consider substituting an equal amount of bone broth or beef stock. Then add a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar or pomegranate juice.
This beef and bacon stew should keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Place any leftovers in a tightly sealed container and transfer them to the fridge where they’ll keep for up to 5 days.
Yes! Crisp the bacon and brown the beef in a Dutch oven. Add the broth, and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot, then transfer all the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours or until tender.