The flavors of the Mediterranean make this beef stew recipe unique—you might decide that this is the best beef stew!
The Best Figs for Stew
You could use either Golden or Mission Figs to add a nuance of fruity flavor, but our pick would be the Mission Figs and their deep, earthier sweetness that is a natural pairing for the beef. Cooking the figs in the stew gives them almost a jammy texture, softening them and infusing them with the savory flavors of the braising broth. Before using the figs, you will want to remove the stems and cut them in half lengthwise if large.
Cooking Tips for the Best Beef Stew
To make the beef stew recipe, start by sprinkling the beef with salt and pepper—this tenderizes and flavors the meat from the inside out. You’ll brown the beef next to add more caramelizing flavor through the Maillard process—it’s a small step to brown meat but adds exponentially to the taste of the meat.
Next, you’ll transfer the meat to a slow cooker. Meanwhile in the skillet that browned the meat, you will cook onion and garlic until softened. Then, you’ll add the wine, tomatoes, and beef broth into the skillet to warm up and introduce those ingredients to each other—this will also help loosen the browned bits clinging to the skillet before transferring the braising liquid into the slow cooker.
At this point, you’ll stir in the carrots, California Figs, bay leaves, and lemon zest. The slow cooker will do its work, cooking on low for 6 to 8 hours (or on high for 4 to 5 hours). What you will be looking for to assess when the stew is done is for the meat to be tender. Remove the bay leaves and lemon zest.
To serve the stew, stir in the olives and thyme or parsley. This beef stew recipe
You could spoon the beef stew over buttered noodles, or creamy polenta. Or, serve steamed new potatoes alongside.
Mediterranean Beef Stew with California Figs, Red Wine and Olives
- 9 ounces Orchard Choice or Sun Maid California Figs
- 2 1/2 pounds beef round or lean stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil, divided use
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1/2 cup sodium-reduced beef broth
- 1 cup full-bodied dry red wine
- 1 can crushed tomatoes undrained
- 2 large carrots cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 strips lemon zest* 3/4- x 3-inch
- 3/4 cup kalamata olives quartered, pitted
- Chopped fresh thyme or Italian parsley
- Remove stems from figs and cut in half if large; set aside. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, turning occasionally, to brown all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer beef to slow cooker. Reduce heat to medium and add 2 teaspoons oil to skillet along with onion and garlic. Stir and cook until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon or two of water if onions brown too quickly. Add wine, undrained tomatoes and beef broth to skillet. Simmer 1 minute, stirring with wooden spoon to scrape up brown bits from bottom of pan. Pour wine mixture over meat in slow cooker. Stir in figs, carrots, bay leaves and lemon zest. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (or on high for 4 to 5 houror until meat is tender. To serve, remove bay leaves and lemon zest. Stir in olives and sprinkle with thyme or parsley. Serve with buttered noodles, polenta or steamed new potatoes, as desired.