ASK THE BUTCHER: Making a Great Beef Stew

by | In the Kitchen, Meals, Recipes

Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

Starts with the right cut of beef!

Remember, fat is flavor. The best, and actually, the least expensive cut that’s the most delicious, is boneless chuck roast. Don’t pick the leanest piece because we need internal fat (marbling) to get the best flavor.

Your favorite grocery store will usually carry “extra lean” beef for stew already cut in cubes. Avoid buying this. What they use are the leanest cuts of beef that are usually not the most tender or flavorful.

All you need is a sharp knife to cut the chuck roast into uniform cubes. It’s not at all difficult to do. When picking your chuck roast, pay attention to the grade of beef. I selected a Choice cut. Read more about grades of meat in my previous article, How Can I Pick a Good Steak?

The recipe below is for 3 pounds of beef. I selected one that weighed slightly more. (It was 3 pounds after I cut off some of the external fat — see photo below for details.) I use parsnips in place of potatoes because they are much tastier. I also dredge the beef in paprika instead of flour for the same reason.

Tony’s Beef Stew

Serves 6-8.

(His variation of Hungarian Goulash I from

Some of the great ingredients in this stew.


3 pounds – Chuck Roast, cut in 1-1 ½ inch cubes (Choice grade with marbling for best flavor, trim only external fat if any.)

3 Onions, sliced

1/3 Cup – olive or Vegetable oil

2 Tbsp – Paprika (I use Hungarian.)

3 tsp. – Salt (2 and 1)

½ tsp. – Black Pepper

1 – 6oz. can – Tomato Paste

2 Cups – Beef or Veggie broth (1 ½ cups and ½ cup)

1 Clove – Garlic, minced

3 Parsnips, cut into about 1 inch chunks (Hate parsnips? You can use about 12 small “baby”potatoes instead.)

6 Carrots, cut about 1 inch pieces (You can use chopped baby carrots, just use more.)

4 Celery stalks, cut about 1 ½ inch pieces

2 Tbsp – Butter (optional, but tastes great.)

USDA Choice – Chuck Roast. An excellent cut of beef for stew! Note the marbling.



Oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook onions until soft stirring frequently. (It can take 5 or 10 minutes.) Remove onions and set aside.

Cooking onions.

While onions are cooking

In a large bowl combine paprika, 2 teaspoons of salt, and the black pepper. Cut the beef into 1-1 ½ inch cubes and place into the bowl on top of the spices. Stir, to thoroughly coat the beef in the spice mixture.

Put the spices in your bowl BEFORE the meat, it’s much easier to stir and coat the pieces of beef.
Cut off only the external fat (around the outside of the beef). The internal fat, or marbling, provides flavor.
Place the chunks of beef on top of the spices and stir to coat.

Place the coated beef in the same stockpot

That the onions were cooked in, on medium heat, until the beef is browned on all sides. (This can take 10 to 15 minutes and you will have some liquid emerge from the beef as it is cooking.)

Beef as it starts to brown.
Browned beef with cooking liquid.


The onions to the pot. Add the tomato paste, 1 ½ cups broth, garlic, butter (optional), and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. [pictured above]


On low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour.

Beef after cooking for an hour.


The veggies and the remaining ½ cup broth. Cover and let simmer for at least 1 ½ hours longer. (I cook mine for about 4 hours.)

Add the veggies and broth. Cook for 1.5 to 4 hours more.


Over rice or noodles if you haven’t added potatoes. It’s also delicious with a hunk of hearty bread to sop up the gravy.

Enjoy by itself or with a hunk of hearty bread.
Article by Tony Stafford. Photos by Ellen Stafford
Tony Stafford in front of his Love Valley Wholesale Spice Company Truck
Tony Stafford

Tony Stafford, co-founder and former owner of Ferrucci’s Old Tyme Italian Market in Cornelius, NC, has over 40 years experience in the meat industry as a butcher. He knows how to evaluate, cut, and season all kinds of meat for an exceptional meal whether it’s your Thanksgiving dinner or a backyard barbecue. Now known as “The Spice Guy” from Love Valley Wholesale Spice Company, he sells spices, soup bases, and custom blends to Lake Norman/Charlotte restaurants, food trucks, caterers, and commercial kitchens. 

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