Farmhouse Beef and Bacon Stew

In the last few weeks, my family has been traveling.  We packed one backpack each, left our little home in the mountains, and headed off on a 6-week tour on the trail of real food – stopping first at a dairy farm nestled against the rolling green hills of Devon in England before moving on, briefly, to London, then to Paris and next to Provence, Tuscany for this getaway, and wherever else the road takes us before we return home.

We drove through the impossibly narrow, hedge-fledged roads through the English country-side before finding the dairy where we camped for three nights at the Aller Family Farm.  We roamed the hills, foraged for wild foods, played and cooked on the cabin’s wood-fired stove as well as an open pit outside the cabin.  Chaffin Family Orchard out of northern California offers a similar camping arrangement where my family stayed last November.

Devon Farm

Farmhouse and Wood-fired Cooking

While at the Allers’ farm, we enjoyed the fresh real food of Devon – sharp cheddar, fresh raw milk, herbs, spring root vegetables, good beef and seafood from the coast.  We also settled in for some foods direct from the farm, pots of ingredients delivered to our cabin, including beef and English bacon for a simple Farmhouse Beef and Bacon Stew.

Unlike my stews like Bison Stew with Red Wine, which rely on cubed meat, Emma’s stew pot contained whole cuts of meat, with a note that it’s best not to cube the meat, but to cook it whole and let it fall apart on its own.  The longer you cook the stew, the better it becomes, and while we cooked ours on a wood stove, carefully minding the wood and coals to achieve variations in temperature, it is equally well-suited if not better suited to a slowcooker.

Grass-fed Beef

We use grass-fed beef exclusively in my kitchen, and as much as possible while on the road.  Grass-fed beef enjoys a rich and complex flavor profile met by a leanness unparalleled in conventional, grain-fed beef; yet, for this reason, it tends toward toughness if you’re not accustomed to cooking it.  Long, very slow cooking can bring out not only the beef’s flavor, but its tenderness too.  You can often find grass-fed beef at farmers markets and from local ranchers; however, you can also purchase it online if none is available to you locally.

English Bacon

This Farmhouse Beef and Bacon Stew uses English bacon – a much leaner bacon with a much less pronounced flavor than American bacon. You can find it in a good butcher shop or online; however, Canadian bacon is a good substitute.

Farmhouse Beef and Bacon Stew

 

Farmhouse Beef and Bacon Stew
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A simple farmhouse stew, this recipe features root vegetables, slow-cooked beef and fresh herbs. This recipe is adapted from Emma Aller's recipe for farmhouse stew.
Serves: Serves 6
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and sinew (get it here)
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 ounces English-style (find it here) or Canadian Bacon, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, scraped and chopped into ½-inch thick rounds
  • 4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup pearl onions
  • 1 quart homemade beef stock
  • 1½ cups red wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed stock pot, and toss in the bacon. Allow it to render its fat and brown a bit in the butter, then toss in the beef and brown on each side about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vegetables, stock and wine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 4 to 5 hours until the meat is tender.
  4. Remove the meat from the pot and shred it with a knife and fork. Return the shredded meat to the pot and increase the temperature to medium-high. Remove the pot's cover, and allow it to simmer until the liquid is reduced by ⅓. Sprinkle with fresh thyme, and serve.
Notes
To prepare this in a slowcooker, first brown the meat, then add all the ingredients together and cook on low for 8 hours. I use and recommend this slowcooker.

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What people are saying

  1. Kristin says

    This family getaway sounds so adventurous and relaxing. Could you map a path of the general areas that you visited if someone wanted to do a similar trip. It would be nice traveling something that’s been tried and true. Thanks for the beautiful stew recipe.

    • Richard Corpuz says

      I cooked the Stew, but I did not toss in the vegetables until the meat was almost soft. Potatoes, carrots and pearl onions will disintegrate if tossed early and cooked a few hours. Some people who are not familiar with foods cooked with wine will have a problem with the flavor, so I added onion powder, salt and pepper to taste and sprinkled dried thyme leaves while the meat was cooking. Onion powder did the trick to neutralize the strong flavor of wine. I did everything per ingredient as instructed. I kept slightly adding water when low. Used Chianti Red wine. I will have to try other wines. I used the stock from beef ribs and i tossed in bone marrow on the stew while roast was being softened. The stew came out immaculate!

  2. says

    Oh, this looks absolutely delicious. I may change my dinner plans tonight! The trip looks oh-so-lovely too. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your travels. :)

    Just a note if people are having trouble finding the bacon – here in Canada, “Canadian bacon” is merely referred to as “back bacon,” so that would be another option to ask for at your butcher.

  3. Heather says

    I too would like to know more of your trip route, etc, sometime, as well as how/what you packed.

  4. AlleninAK says

    Can you give some pointers regarding the wine. The only advise I have gotten is that if I wont drink it, dont put it in food. Well, I dont drink any wine… What my friend meant was dont buy the cooking wine in the grocery store. Buy real wine. The problem is, there are millions of different types of red wine. Merlot, etc. Can you give a good recommendation as to which type of red wine?

    • Narelle says

      Hi I make a version of this nearly every week and I go the the bottle shop and buy the cheapest red wine they sell. Here in Australia it’s often around $4-6 a bottle. It is always a different brand or type of red wine and it doesn’t seem to impact on the delicious taste of the finished stew. So I’d recommend you just buy the cheapest red wine you can get, works fine for me. Enjoy.

  5. says

    Jenny, kudos to you for being able to travel for 6 weeks with only one backpack apiece. That is quite an accomplishment.

    This recipe looks delicious and very easy to do. Do you do any special prep with the grass-fed beef? Is there anything besides the longer cooking process that can help to tenderize it?

    Also, have you tried adding any other vegetables? Do you think that too many vegetables might take away from the flavor of the beef?

    Your adventures sound like they are a lot of fun and I can’t wait to hear more. You must have picked up some great recipes and cooking ideas along the way.

  6. Jeanmarie says

    This looks wonderful, just like my mom’s pot roast as I remember it. I’ll definitely be trying this. Thanks!

  7. Kate In Hawaii says

    Thank you for providing your recipes. This one is a keeper! As others have commented,
    the 1-backpack trip sounded healthy and educational. What more can one ask from a trip? :)

    Mahalo for sharing!

  8. Mindy says

    Made this today and it was amazing! I added daikon radish (“faux-tatoes”) and mushrooms. So easy and delicious!

    Thank you!

  9. says

    This looks great! I work in an outdoor shop so I see what people can fit into 1 pack, that’s quite a trip for 1 pack!

    Thanks for the great recipe! It’s still cold here in Seattle so I will have to make it up soon. ( yesterday broke a record for the coldest May 22nd ever…)

    -Heather

  10. says

    Thanks for such a lovely recipe. I do however, boil the potatoes (skin on), let cool, peel and cut into cubes. Then add at the very end. The potato flavor is fantastic :) Thanks again for such a tasty recipe

    • Victoria says

      I I made this stew and it was very good. I didn’t have wine on hand so I substituted red wine vinegar mixed with water (1/2 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water). Came out fine!

  11. Nadia says

    I made this the other night for our family and it was loved by everyone. I normally thicken my stews with gravy or cornflour so it was interesting to have a stew that wasn’t overly thick. I think I preferred it. Just lovely, thank you.

  12. says

    Recipes like these are why my wife and I subscribed to the meal plans. So delicious. I normally don’t drink wine or keep it in the house, so I just bought the cheapest wine I could find. The flavor is still outstanding. We used only organic produce and grass-fed beef.

  13. Kim says

    I have this in the slow cooker as we speak….I reduced the amt of wine by 1/2 c as to not make it too strong. I didn’t have bacon of any kind in the house, but a lot of bacon fat, so I browned the meat in that. It already smells fantastic. THANK YOU for posting a stew without tomatoes, as my daughter has GERD and therefore can’t have them. We are all looking forward to dinner tonight!

  14. Deanna says

    I just made this stew. It is so nourishing and delicious.This is the perfect recipe to take off the winter chill. It is rustic, full flavored, and just plain delicious. Very easy to make.

  15. Maggie says

    Pleased to see u are enjoying the delights of uk here. As well as food hope u had chance to enjoy a Devon cream tea of tasty scones with jam & cream.
    And mmmm the pleasure s of Italy and France- look forward to seeing you add more delicious recipes from your travels in Europe

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