I'm not a big "stew" person. My dad looooooves stew...I've always thought it was chewy and blah...until now. Almost two years ago (when I was 9 months pregnant), I got to craving me some stew, so my mother-in-law sent me her recipe. I made it, loved it, and have been making it ever since. It's super, super easy. It's made in one pot (which I love) and it's so hearty and warm on a chilly evening. Even if you think you're not a "stew" person, give this a try. It converted me.
1 tablespoon veggie oil
one pound or so stew meat (it's in the meat section, by the ground beef and it actually says "stew meat")
4 cups water
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried work)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup baby carrots (or 2 large carrots chopped)
2 Idaho potatoes, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon corn starch
1 1/2 tablespoon water
In a large (oven proof) Dutch oven (that's a fancy term for "big pot with lid"), brown stew meat in veggie oil until brown all over (5-7 minutes). Add in next 10 ingredients (plus plenty of salt and pepper), cover with lid and either cook at 275 degrees in the oven 5-6 hours or cook on top of stove about 2 hours (with the lid on as well).
If you're cooking the stew all day in the oven, then about one hour before you're ready to eat, add in the carrots and potatoes, cover and return to oven to finish cooking.
If you're cooking the stew on the stove top, then about 30 minutes before you're ready to eat, add in the carrots and potatoes, cover and finish cooking on the stove.
Regardless which method you use, about 10 minutes before you're ready to serve, stir the corn starch and water together in a little bowl until combined. Remove the pot from the oven (if it's there) and set it back on the stove top. Uncover and add in corn starch mixture. Turn heat on stove up to medium-high and let the stew bubble away uncovered 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (the corn starch mixture will thicken the stew up).
Ladle into bowls and serve. This could convert even the biggest stew cynic.