Eisenhower Beef Stew

Sorry it’s been a while since posting. I have had 2 colds and not much time of healthy-Heather in between. So most of that healthy-Heather energy, of course, went towards lab work. But now that it’s cold outside, I think this is a pretty appropriate recipe to share with y’all.

This was the stew my Mom always made for us growing up. I had no idea until recently why it was called Eisenhower beef stew. But apparently this is the stew recipe back from Pres. Eisenhower’s family. I think the recipe started appearing publicly in the 50’s when it was printed in a magazine. A fellow wordpress-er has posted their magazine clipping on their blog.

And as soon as I posted this recipe, my Mom sent along pictures of the original recipe card from her mom. Pretty cool!!

I have to warn you, the traditional recipe is enough to feed a small army. And I mean it. I don’t have a pot big enough for the original recipe! So this is the “half” version which should fit (barely) into a 5 quart pot.

I also added a variation. If you’ve never had celery root, now is the time to try it. In a stew, it has the consistency and appearance of a potato, but it tastes like celery. It’s wacky and awesome. Defintitely give it a try.

Directions: Cut up the stew beef into 1″ chunks. (Or whatever size, as long as they are all similar sizes.)

Thank you, Berkeley Bowl, for awesome hunks of meat!

Evenly coat a large pot with the veggie oil and heat on high for a few minutes. Add the stew meat and let it brown, turning the meat every 2 minutes. The browning should take about 10 minutes total.

Brown, baby, brown.

If you leave your meat alone, you'll get a nice brown crust. (You can tell that I get impatient!)

Pour in enough beef broth to cover the meat. Now it’s time to get the spice pack ready. In a square of cheesecloth, place the peppercorns, whole cloves, garlic cloves, bay leaf, and fresh thyme. (Please note these are whole cloves, as my Momma pointed out in her comment!) Bring up two opposite corners of the cheesecloth together and tie a knot. Then bring up the other 2 corners and tie a 2nd knot. It should make a nice compact packet of all of the spices.


Add the spice packet to the broth, and bring it to a slow boil.

Spicing the meats!

Once the liquid comes to a boil, cover and reduce the heat. You’ll want to simmer the beef for at least 1 hour. The longer, the more tender the meat will get. I’d recommend 2-3 hours if you have the time. Check the meat occasionally to make sure there is still enough liquid to cover the meat. If you need to add liquid, you can add hot water.

In the meantime, you can prep all of the veggies. The celery root is a new addition to this stew, and I thought it was an excellent one! Peel the potatoes and the celery root. For the celery root, also cut out any deep grooves that might have dirt hidden in them. I find peeling carrots a waste of time. So just wash those.

Sorry boys, you have to have veggies with your meat.

Cut up all of the veg into equal sized chunks. It’s important they are all the same size so that they cook evenly.

Do your best to keep everything equal sized!

You’ll also want to prep your pearl onions now if you’re buying them fresh. But here is a good hint for all of you lazy people out there (yes, that’s me!): buy them frozen! I hate cutting onions anyways because my eyes are so sensitive to the fumes. But let alone cutting 12-15 miniature onions?? Don’t think so…if you buy them frozen, they are already peeled.  Voila!

Add the veggies, the canned tomatoes (again, I’m lazy), and the remaining beef broth.  Add salt to taste. Return the lid and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes, or until you can easily put a fork through each type of veggie.

You can remove the spice pack after the veggies are cooked.

Now to thicken. Because this is a relatively quick stew, the juice won’t really have time to thicken like an overnight stew would. So we’ll take the easy way out: thicken with flour. Measure out the flour in a small bowl. Add 3/4 C hot water and whisk until smooth. (If you have a tupperware shaker, this is a perfect use for that. I know I have one…but it’s been swallowed by our kitchen.)

It's important to get all the chunks out before you add it to the stew. Otherwise, they'll be impossible to fix later.

Add the flour thickener to the stew. Cook for another 10 minutes. This is super essential to cook off the flavor of the flour.

The flour turns the stew a bit shiny!

Then serve with a nice bread (we also roasted some garlic to spread on the bread) and a hearty beer.

Warming fooooods! (And you KNOW Dogfish Head goes well with stew)



3 thoughts on “Eisenhower Beef Stew

  1. I’m not so sure about the celery root, Heather, but I agree to give it a try next time. I came across your grandmother’s original index card with the recipe barely visible in faded ink. It starts with 4 pounds of beef! She must have substituted the canned bouillon for the stock and omitted the (vile) Accent (MSG).

    I would just like to emphasize that the BEST thing about this stew is the addition of whole cloves in the spice bag – absolutely essential, and makes the flavor wonderfully complex. Thanks for sharing!

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