This Greek old-fashioned beef stew recipe is a classic family dish that tastes as good as it looks. The sweetness of the eggplant is a perfect partner to the tender beef. Fresh herbs, San Marzano tomatoes, cinnamon, and aromatics create a delicious sauce worthy of lots of bread dipping!
Why this recipe sings
I love cooking this old-fashioned beef stew recipe for many reasons.
First and foremost, for the heavenly sauce. Dipping a piece of crusty bread in this sauce is a must and can not be missed.
Second, it reminds me of home. My mom used to serve it over mashed potatoes, and it was the dish that convinced my younger self that eggplants are not evil 🙂
Third, it is simple, easy, and unpretentious. I love it!
How to make this old-fashioned beef stew
It is pretty easy to make this hearty stew. You need stew meat; I like beef chuck cut into chunks—next, eggplants, good quality canned tomatoes, lots of garlic, and aromatics. Extra virgin olive oil goes without saying. It is a staple in Greek cooking as well as in my pantry.
- Beef chuck stew meat
- San Marzano tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Red onion
- Fresh herbs like thyme and oregano
- Dry oregano
- Cinnamon stick
- All-purpose flour
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Cut the eggplant cubes. Oil a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the eggplant pieces to the baking sheet. Brush a little olive oil on top of each eggplant cube—season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a pinch of oregano.
Bake cubes for 30 min or until eggplant flesh is soft and a light golden color. When done, remove from oven and set aside.
Dry the beef pieces well using a paper towel—season with salt and pepper. Lightly dust 1- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour all over beef.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Brown the beef, a few pieces at a time, for about 2-3 minutes. Remove beef pieces on a plate and set them aside.
Add the onion—season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 1-2 min. Add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and oregano. Stir and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes. Gently crush them to eliminate any big chunks. Mix well. Add the beef back into the pot, ½ cup of water, and some fresh thyme and oregano sprigs.
Stir gently, cover, and simmer in very low heat for 1 hour.
Add eggplant pieces to the stew. Stir gently, cover, and simmer for another 30 to 45 min or until beef is soft and almost falling apart with a fork. Adjust salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
How to thicken beef stew
Dusting the stew meat with all-purpose flour before browning helps thicken the sauce.
In case your sauce is too thin, it is pretty easy to thicken it:
Add a couple of ladles of sauce to a medium bowl. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of flour and whisk vigorously. Add it back to the stew and stir gently. Simmer for a few more minutes. Your sauce should become richer and thicken. You can adjust the thickness to your liking by adding more or less flour.
- You can substitute green zucchini for eggplants. Don't bake them; cut zucchini into large pieces and sauté with the onions and seasonings. Let them cook all together with the meat and tomato sauce.
- If you don't have fresh herbs, don't stress! Just use dried versions of what you have. If all you have is Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence, that's great. Both work great with this recipe.
- I love using San Marzano tomatoes in my cooking. By all means, please use what is available to you. Taste the sauce and add a teaspoon of sugar to the sauce to adjust the acidity of the tomatoes if needed (you can skip this step if you are using San Marzano tomatoes D.O.P.).
Cooked this? Rate this recipe! You can also leave a comment below. I love hearing from you!
Old Fashioned Beef Stew With Eggplant
- A large dutch oven or oven-proof stock pot.
- 2 lb beef chuck cut in 1 inch cubes aprox.
- 2 eggplants cut in 1 inch cubes
- 28 oz San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 red onion diced
- 4-5 cloves garlic sliced
- 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4-5 sprigs fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon Greek dry oregano
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- Preheat the oven top 325 F.
- Cut the eggplant cubes. Oil a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add the eggplant pieces to the baking sheet. Brush a little olive oil on top of each eggplant cube. Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of oregano. Bake cubes for 30 to 45 min or until eggplant flesh is soft and a light golden color. When done remove baking sheet with eggplants from oven and set aside.
- Dry the beef pieces well using a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly dust 1 - 2 tbsp all purpose flour all over beef.
- In a large pot heat 2 tbsp olive oil. Brown the beef, a few pieces at a time all over, about 2-3 minutes. Remove beef pieces on a plate and set aside.
- Add the onion. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 1-2 min. Add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg and oregano. Stir and sauté for 2 minutes
- Add the tomatoes. Gently crush them to eliminate any big chunks. Mix well. Add the beef, ½ cup of water, some fresh thyme and oregano sprigs. Stir gently, cover and simmer in low heat for 1 hour.
- Add eggplant pieces to the stew. Stir gently, cover and simmer for another 30 to 45 min or until beef is soft and almost falling apart with a fork. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. and serve.
- Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of fresh thyme or oregano leaves.
- You can enjoy this hearty stew as is or over mashed potatoes, polenta even french fries. Don't forget the crusty bread to dip in the sauce!