Traditions make the year go by faster: Nana’s Beef Stew

Ever since I was little I remember one specific tradition that happened christmas eve of the year and that was Grandma’s Beef Stew for dinner.  So long as it was winter, stew always tasted good but something about it being the holiday always made it taste better,  I think because it takes 4 hours to cook there were few occasions that my parents would be around the house long enough with work and everything in order to make it, and of course, this was before my days of making up recipes and cooking so it was out of the question for my sister or I to make it.

I never knew my grandma, she passed away when I was a baby but if there is one thing I truly enjoy now that I have come to love cooking, is to look through her old recipes.  Granted the stew recipe is not an unfamiliar one, but it is fascinating looking through her recipe box and seeing old magazine clippings of recipes that she thought looked good or seeing recipes written in her handwriting.  I can only imagine what she was thinking as she wrote out each one but it’s fascinating to think that recipes that I am writing right now in my recipe books will be read decades from now by my own grandchildren.

I have talked about this before in previous posts but stew is one of those recipes that tastes so much more impressive than the amount of effort that actually goes into it.  There is nothing simpler than throwing all ingredients together, placing a lid on top of the pot and letting it sit in the oven for 4 hours.  It is amazing how it has such a distinct taste and smell no matter what oven or place or time you make it, it will always be my grandmothers beef stew.

Now, for this recipe I made slight changes.  I love beef stew hands down, but I also love beef bourguignon.  The one ingredient that the bourguignon has that stew generally does not are those delicious, one of a kind, pearl onions.  So, like my addition, if there are any vegetables that can hold up to 4 hours of cooking that you would like to add to this recipe, feel free .  Some of us just cannot live without those pearl onions!

Nana’s Beef Stew


  • 2 lbs beef stew meat
  • 2.5 lb can of tomatoes
  • 2 cups carrots (chopped into small chunks)
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1 tbl sugar
  • 1 tbl salt
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 2-3 potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup pearl onions peeled


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. combine all ingredients but the pearl onions and potatoes
  3. cover and place in oven for 4 hours.  Add the potatoes in the last hour.
  4. before the beef is done, cook the pearl onions by sauteing them in a pan with 1 tbl olive oil until they begin to brown.  add to stew with 20 minutes remaining.
  5. Enjoy!

* I served this by itself with fingerling potatoes on the side but it is good over rice too so that the rice soaks up some of that delicious juice!


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