The Meal Planner

Today's comfortable 20 degrees is a welcomed change from the last couple of sweltering 35+ degree days (Celsius that is), so a nice sweet and savory stew beckoned to me. Frugality reigns supreme with this dish as a tough, cheap cut of meat is the star of the show. Any other expensive cut of beef would easily dry out and lose it's flavor, while the fat and connective tissue in an cheap cut creates tender, melt in your mouth morsels with a rich meaty broth.

My favorite part of this stew is the sweet tang of the gravy and the lively earthy tones that stirring in some fresh herbs from the garden brings. If you are going to eat a stew in the middle of summer, this one should be it.

Recipe adapted from Eat, Shrink & Be Merry

Serves 4

1.5 lbs of stewing beef, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
2 tsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 cups beef broth
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or balsamic)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 large carrots, chopped
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the oil and the cubes of beef (depending on how big your pot is you may have to do this in two batches). Cook until there is no more liquid coming out of the beef, and the meat moves from a grayish color to a more golden brown color. You'll also have a layer of caramelization right on the bottom of the pan. Once browned, add the onions and celery and cook until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes. If the pan is getting too dry add a tablespoon or so of water and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom (that's all flavor). Add the garlic, dried thyme, and dried rosemary and cook about a minute. Stir in the broth, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer with a lid on for about 45-60 minutes. Add the carrots and simmer 20-30 more minutes until the carrots have softened.

Before you are ready to serve, stir in the sour cream, frozen peas, fresh basil and fresh oregano and remove from the heat. The residual heat of the stew will cook the peas through. Serve with Herb Cheese Biscuits.

Click here for printable version of Sweet & Savory Beef Stew

The juxtaposition of the sweet and savory in this stew is irresistible. The broth has a mild sweetness with further pops and bursts of sweet summer peas in every bite along with the fresh and lively flavors of the herbs. This is hands down, without a doubt, no questions asked, MY FAVORITE STEW. This will be made year round in our house.

For more inexpensive meal ideas check out $5 Dinner Challenge

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7 Responses
  1. Tamar Says:

    This looks delicious! I've been looking for a simple gulash-type dish to make that we will all want to eat, even in the summer. btw-thanks for the tips/instructions on's something new to me and even though I'm starting out slow (2 planned meals a week), I can already see the benefits. Not knowing what's for dinner is not nearly as amusing when you have a toddler and another on the way.
    Also love that you have so many ethnic recipes (especially Indian) - I've been having trouble getting some of the ingredients (we live in Israel) but I improvise when necessary.

  2. Trish Says:

    Sounds pretty good! I don;t usually like stews because after all that time in the pot together, everything tastes the same to me.
    But I recently tried a pork stew that got a burst of flavor at the end of cooking so I can see how the fresh herbs and peas would do the same for this recipe. And I happen to have some stew beef in the freezer. :)

  3. Marisa Says:

    That looks great! Kudos on making a stew look appetizing in a photo - I can never seem to manage that. :-(

  4. Vanessa Says:

    Hey Kindra, tried this recipe for the first time last night and we loved it! I think the addition of the sour cream and balsamic was a great really made the stew creamy and sweet, rather than watery and tart. (Hence the name, sweet 'n' savory, right?;)) What has me even more excited is that at our grocery store, we can usually get stewing beef on sale (30% off), so this meal ends up to be really super cheap!

    We'll definitely be making this recipe again. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Cool, thanks Vanessa! I'm jealous you can get stewing beef so cheap. I've never tried it, but I always find roasts cheaper than a package of stewing beef...I'm thinking I might buy a roast and cut it into bits myself to save a few bucks. I LOVE the addition of balsamic as well. I'm becoming to the tangy sweetness that it adds to dishes. If you like it in this dish, two others you might like are Vindaloo Korma and Sweet Basil Pork Ragu. LOVE those two. Balsamic vinegar is so great.

  6. ...oops...becoming *addicted* to Balsamic is what I meant to say.

  7. Miriam Says:

    I found it delicious but with a thin broth. Two days later for lunch, I added leftover boiled potatoes to the stew, and it was great! and the broth had thickened by then. I think you could also serve it over rice on the first night, just to give it something to absorb some of the thin broth. Loved it.