Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Braised beef with summer vegetables

The crew of the El Dorado Western Railroad enjoyed a pot of Dutch oven stew last Saturday. With the outdoor kitchen set up under the eve of the recreated freight depot, I cooked as the railroad crew began construction of a railroad siding.

My inspiration for the dish comes from an August 2011 Sunset magazine article. The braising liquid sets this dish apart from the standard camp stew with its heavy gravy. Chicken stock, infused with generous amounts of rosemary and garlic, slowly concentrates as it quietly tenderizes the tough chuck roast. By the time the meat is fork-tender, starch from the potatoes and corn have lightly thickened the sauce.

For the most part, braised beef with summer vegetables is a one-pot meal that can be set on the fire as the cook enjoys a relaxing afternoon in camp. Except for the occasional peak and stir, the pot will tend itself.

Another benefit to this stew? You can mix-and-match vegetables to suit your own tastes or to use up stock. Substitute turnips or celery root for potatoes. Brussels sprouts easily stand in for green beans. The addition of a leafy green vegetable (try chard, kale or even spinach) will impart extra flavor to the braising liquid.

Enjoy the dish. It's already on the menu for my end-of-summer camping trip next month at the Blue Lakes in Eldorado National Forest. I'm certain my family (along with my mother, sister, brother-in-law and nieces) will relish the simple goodness from the braised beef.

Campers and railroaders alike take pleasure in a simple one-pot meal. "After a day of hiking or swimming," noted the introduction to the recipe, "(chef) Adam Sappington of The Country Cat in Portland, likes the simplicity of cooking a one-pot meal like this for his wife and their two young sons."

Enjoy my YouTube video of the dish by clicking. Ingredient amounts and technique vary slightly from the recipe printed here.


I modified the original recipe to fit inside a 14-inch Dutch oven.

Beef and marinade:
9 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 boneless beef chuck roast, aprox. 3-1/2 to 4 pounds

Vegetables and braising liquid:
1/4 cup butter
6 cups chicken broth, divided
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 ears corn, cleaned and cut into thirds
2 medium sweet onions, cut into 6 wedges
1 pound small red or gold potatoes
12 ounces green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
9 baby zucchini (3/4-pound total), ends trimmed, or regular zucchini cut into chunks
1-1/2 pints cherry tomatoes, stems removed

To prepare beef: In a bowl, combine garlic, rosemary, oil, salt, and pepper. Rub all over beef and place in a zipper-top plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight, or up to 2 days.

In a 14-inch camp-style Dutch oven, add butter and melt. Add beef and cook until browned on underside, 10 minutes. Turn meat over, add 4 cups broth and cover. Cook 1 hour with coals for 350 degrees, with 8 charcoal briquettes under oven and 20 on lid. Refresh coals every 30 to 45 minutes to maintain heat.

Turn meat over, add 2 cups broth with corn, onion and potatoes. Cook, covered, 1 hour. Turn meat and corn, add beans, zucchini and tomatoes, and more broth if pot is getting dry. Cook, covered, until meat is very tender, 15 to 30 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 8 hearty or 12 regular portions.


  1. Thank you for the recipe. I will be preparing this for the Leaders of our Scout Troop here in North Georgia very soon.

  2. Thanks, Scott. Send me pictures of the even when done. I'll post them to the blog.