A good, trusty recipe for classic beef stew should be in every cook's repertoire. Stewing transforms tough, sinewy cuts into tender, yielding meat, but this doesn't mean that you can use just any cut of meat. For the best beef stew, skip prepackaged stew meat and choose a cut from the shoulder—either a chuck eye roast or blade steaks—and cut the beef into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Meat from the shoulder is full of beefy flavor and contains a good amount of fat that will keep the meat moist and succulent throughout the long, slow cooking process.
This recipe employs all the flavor-building stewing and braising techniques that we've discussed: browning the beef in batches to achieve deep caramelization, sautéing the aromatic vegetables, and the addition of tomato paste. But, here, we're going a couple steps further by including minced anchovies and a piece of salt pork, both of which heighten the savoriness of the stew without asserting their own flavors (trust us). We're also adding gelatin to the stewing liquid just before serving to give the sauce a luxurious texture, as if the stew was made with rich homemade beef stock.
This basic stewing technique can be used with lamb or pork, and the liquids, seasonings, and vegetables can be changed to tailor the flavor profile to your liking.
Total Cooking Time: 210
Preparation Time: 35
Active Cooking Time: 60
Make Ahead: 2 days in refrigerator
Yield: 6 to 8 servings