This Mexican Dutch Oven Beef Stew is reminiscent of a traditional beef stew with a twist or two. Ground cumin, chipotle chile powder, and Mexican oregano join the typical onion and garlic in flavoring the braising liquid. Traditional beef cubes, potatoes, and carrots are joined by roasted poblano peppers. Cooked slowly in a Dutch oven, this tasty, savory Mexican beef stew is at the same time comforting and new!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks – About Dutch Oven Stew Recipes
Why mess with a cast iron Dutch oven when you make a pot of beef stew? A Dutch oven is simply the best way to brown and braise stew IMHO. I have followed Eating Well for years – initially with a print magazine subscription, and then online. I love this quote:
Before slow cookers and Instant Pots and super-powered blenders, there was the simple, unassuming Dutch oven. This big, clunky pot with its tight-fitting lid has been cranking out stews, braises, roasts and even bread for 400 years or so. And if you don’t have one, you need to get one. It can travel from your stove to your oven and back again. It’s low-maintenance and virtually indestructible. But, you say, they’re expensive. Yes, it’s true that some are quite expensive. But once you know what you’re looking for, we promise you won’t have to sell your house, your car and most of your belongings to have one of your very own.
~~ Eating Well, What Is a Dutch Oven Anyway, and Do You Need One?
If I have time, I make stew in a Dutch oven; if I don’t have time, I use one of my pressure cookers. There’s something special about stew simmering in a Dutch oven on the stove or in my oven. Nostalgia perhaps? At any rate, cast iron holds onto heat more readily and more evenly than other metals, which is a huge advantage in a pot that holds stews, braises, etc. Yes, there are aluminum and stainless Dutch ovens (I have both), but I always reach for my cast iron Dutch oven for stew recipes!
🥩 How to Sear the Beef
NOTE: This section is copied and pasted from my Peruvian beef stew. You may find it helpful! The maillard reaction of the meat is key to making the most flavorful stew. Similar to caramelization, the maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives color, flavor, and aroma to foods (especially meats) that are browned over high heat. If liquid is present, the meat will steam rather than sear. If you want to extract the most flavor from your meat, browning is a crucial step (don’t skip it when using a slow cooker!).
Your goal, then, is to get your meat as dry as possible, and use a hot enough pan. I like to use cast iron when searing/browning meat. My Instant Pot Dutch Oven actually has a “sear” setting, and it gets smoking hot. Always pat your meat dry before browning with a clean towel or paper towels.
How high to set your pan? The surface temperature range to aim for when searing is 400-450°F (204-232°C). Choose a cooking fat with a high enough smoke point to withstand the heat. The smoke point of vegetable oil is about 440-460°F (204-238°C), and that is what I recommend. Use a very thin layer of oil – you aren’t frying! When the pan begins to smoke, add the beef. Reduce heat to medium-high if needed. You don’t have to brown the meat completely. I usually go for about 40-50%.
It is important to watch rather than stir. The meat needs to be left alone in order to get through the entire searing process. If you poke at it or try to flip it, you’ll interrupt the flow. The meat is expected to stick to the pan and then release, when the process is finished and it’s ready to be turned. It should be dark brown, but not black.
NOTE: Unfortunately, many meat and poultry products are injected with a water, salt, and chemical solution to “enhance” or “flavor” the meat. They claim this is a benefit to consumers, but it adds weight to the meat (water is cheaper than beef), and unnecessary sodium. Don’t get me started on the chemicals. Always read the labels. If you do get “enhanced” meat, you can still brown it, but it is more challenging. Pat it dry, and turn up the heat on your pan. Once the liquid evaporates, you should get some browning.
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
- Prepare the beef – Put the flour and spices in a zip bag. If you didn’t dry brine your beef, add the salt as well. Zip it and shake it well to combine. Add the beef cubes, and shake vigorously to coat the beef. Use a spider (or something similar) to remove the beef cubes from the flour mixture. NOTE: Reserve the flour to add later.
- Sear the beef – It is very important to not crowd the pot. With 24 ounces of beef, I do 2 batches in my 6 quart Dutch oven. Bring the heat up to about 400°. Use oil with a high smoke point. Resist the urge to move the cubes of beef. About 5 minutes per batch is a good estimate. Remove and set aside
- Sauté the aromatics – If the pan is dry, add a drizzle of oil. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, and sauté until it begins to soften.
- Brown the flour – Stir in the remaining flour and spice mixture, scraping the pot to loosen browned bits. Add the minced garlic. Sauté 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- De-glaze – De-glaze the pot with the beer, continuing to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Finish the beef stew – See NOTE below.
- NOTE: I was coming down with something when I was shooting the process shots. I managed to miss taking shots of the remaining steps. You have my word I will add them ASAP! Until then, you will simply add the beef broth, canned tomatoes, bay leaves, Mexican oregano, and seared beef to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook, until the beef is tender, about 1½ hours. While the beef simmers, prepare the chiles. Add the potatoes and simmer 30 minutes before adding the carrots, and green chiles. Simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add broth if the stew is dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Char your green chiles – You can char the chiles by your preferred method. I do not have a gas stove in our current home, so I use either my broiler or our gas grill. Once they’re blistered, I place them in a glass bowl with a lid, and let them steam for 5-10 minutes. The skins should slip off easily. Remove stems and seeds before dicing.
- Serve – When the beef and vegetables are tender, taste for seasoning. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with chopped cilantro and a lime wedge if desire. Enjoy!
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Yes. Don’t skip browning the flour and spice coated beef and aromatics. Go through de-glazing with beer before adding to the slow cooker. Cook 8 hours on low, or 4 hours on high.
The following are some of the best cuts of beef for stewing, yielding meat that’s juicy and tender even after long cooking:
Bone-in short rib
Bohemian (Bottom Sirloin Flap)
Fatty brisket (“point” or “second cut”)
See What Are the Best Cuts of Beef for Stew? for more detailed information.
💭 Top Tip
To achieve a good sear on your beef cubes (if they’ve been injected with liquid), get them as dry as possible. Pat the beef dry, salt as you normally would, then you can put them uncovered on a rack over a plate in the refrigerator for 1-3 days to remove moisture. NOTE: If you dry brine your beef, omit the salt from the flour/spice mixture.
As I mentioned earlier, we rarely indulge in beef, but when we do, we want to really enjoy it. This Mexican beef stew is one such slightly guilty pleasure!
Mexican Dutch Oven Beef Stew
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- ½ cup masa flour - see Ingredients Notes for substitutions
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1.5 pounds lean, boneless beef - cubed
- 7 ounces beer - preferably lager see Ingredients Notes in post
- 3 cups beef broth or stock
- 15 ounces canned, diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 2 bay leaves - I love fresh bay!
- 1.5 pounds potatoes - halved or cubed
- 4 carrots - cut in chunks
- 2 diced roasted poblano peppers - up to 4
- chopped cilantro - to garnish
- Put the flour, salt, and spices in a zip bag. Zip it and shake it well to combine. Add the beef cubes, and shake vigorously to coat the beef. Use a spider to remove the beef cubes from the flour mixture. NOTE: Reserve the flour to add later.
- Sear the beef cubes over high heat until browned on both sides (about 5 minutes). Set aside.
- If the pan is dry, add a drizzle of oil. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, and sauté until it begins to soften.
- Stir in the remaining flour and spice mixture, scraping the pot to loosen browned bits. Add the minced garlic. Sauté 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- De-glaze the pot with the beer, continuing to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Add the beef broth, canned tomatoes, bay leaves, Mexican oregano, and seared beef to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook, until the beef is tender, about 1½ hours.
- While the beef simmers, prepare the chiles. See notes below.
- Add the potatoes and simmer 30 minutes before adding the carrots, and green chiles. Simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add broth if the stew is dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.