Here's a recipe for a yummy stew. When it comes to fish stock, chicken stock and beef stock, I don't have cans and cans in my cupboards. I use a paste that I keep in the fridge or a power that I keep in the cupboard. You can get natural, organic, MSG-free kinds (Minor's, Better than Bouillon, etc) that will keep forever. Then you will always have stock for soups, stews, whatever.
1 - 1.5 lb stewing beef
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 carrots, peeled, sliced
1/4 cup flour
4 tablespoons seasoning*
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 cup red wine
6 cups beef stock
3 tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat large dutch oven on med to med-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
2. Mix flour and seasoning. Dust beef pieces with flour and add to the pot in batches. Brown on all sides. Remove browned beef from the pot to a dish. Add more vegetable oil (one tablespoon at a time) as needed but try to avoid using more than 4 tablespoons total.
3. Add diced onion and cook until softened (5 - 7 minutes), scraping up browned bits. Add garlic, cook another 2 minutes. Add thyme, cook another 2 minutes. Add red wine, cook for another 5 minutes, continuing to scrap any bits from the bottom of the pot. Add beef stock and browned beef back to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
4. Skim any fat off the top of the stew!
5. Add potatoes and carrots, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or more (until you're ready to eat) until vegetables and meat are tender. Skim any more fat you see off the top of the stew.
6. Mix 3 tablespoons of water to 3 tablespoons of corn starch. The mixture should be smooth. Add to the stew slowly, stirring. Stop when the stew reaches your desired level of thickness. Simmer for another 5 - 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
* Notes: as for the "seasoning" I listed above, I have a small jar of generic "steak seasoning" that I sprinkle on steaks. I like adding this extra seasoning to the flour that I will dredge the beef in. You could use pretty much anything you think it suitable from your spice rack. Just, you know, be smart and don't use curry powder or anything that doesn't make sense in beef stew.