Beef stew is one of those dishes that is hard to mess up (if you use the right about of salt.) Onions and garlic can give plenty of flavor on there own. Once you taste a stew with just the right blend of herbs, it changes everything.
My mom’s famous stew is embellished with a packet of McCormick’s Stew Mix. It’s MSG free and I like that. But I’m also a big fan of homemade mixes. I can’t claim this one is an exact replica of McCormick’s, but it’s pretty good. (I leave out the oregano in ours, because I’m not a fan of oregano–it’s okay to adapt it to your tastes.)
Homemade Beef Stew Mix
2 cups Flour or 1 cup cornstarch
4 Tbs salt
4 Tbs Garlic Powder
4 Tbs Onion Powder
4 Tbs Paprika
2 Tbs Basil
2 Tbs Celery Seed
2 Tbs black pepper
1 Tbs sugar (opt.)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tsp dried Oregano
2 tsp crushed rosemary
Combine everything in a glass jar. Use 3 Tbs with 1 lb of hamburger or stew meat, 2 cups of water, tomato juice or crushed tomatoes, and 4-6 cups of vegetables (green beans, potatoes, carrots, corn, celery, onions, radishes, sweet potatoes, or peas.)
Brown your meat first, then coat in the stew mix. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until vegetables are tender.
Or just toss your raw meat with the stew mix in the slow cooker, then dump everything else in. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
If you want to leave out the flour or cornstarch completely you can add 1 cup of pearled parley or 1 cup of brown minute rice (gluten free) during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Bonus tip: When we have leftover bits of vegetables after a meal, I put them in a container together in the freezer. When the container is full, I have enough for stew.