This is a pretty straightforward recipe but there are two steps that you must execute with care.
The first is making the roux. It’s just flour and butter cooked to a paste but there are stages in the cooking.
A blonde roux is required in this recipe. If you need help making a roux, there is a step-by-step guide in the archive that you may refer to.
How to make a roux and how to use it
Roux is pronouncedroo. It is a mixture of fat and flour, and is the base for many stews, sauces (including gravy) and soups. Chicken a la King is cooked with a roux. It is a French thing but it …
If you can make a roux, it is not difficult to make Bechamel sauce. The whole process is included in the recipe but if you need an illustrated guide, see the linked post below.
We rarely make lasagna without Béchamel sauce. I used to prepare it but, these days, my daughter, Alex, has taken over that task.
Three more tips before diving into the recipe.
- First, about the beef. We used boneless beef brisket. If using a cut with bones, you will need more than 600 grams to feed four people.
- Second, about the broth. Use plain bone broth — one to which no strong spices have been added.
- Third, about the consistency of the sauce. The sauce of this creamy white beef stew is thickish but still pourable. We prefer it that way so we can ladle it over our rice. If you want a thicker sauce, you’ll want only about a cup of broth remaining in the pan before adding the Bechamel sauce.
Creamy white beef stew
To cook the meat
- 600 grams stewing beef
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion - peeled and roughly chopped
- 6 cups bone broth
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons salt - (reduce to half if using salted butter)
- 1 pinch grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons cream - (you may use twice as much)
- 1 medium carrot - peeled and cubed
- 2 potatoes - (about 400 grams total weight) peeled and cut into cubes or wedges
- 100 grams green beans - stringed and cut into two-inch lengths
- 1 can straw mushrooms - drained but reserve the liquid
Cook the beef
- Wipe the beef with kitchen paper to dry the surface then cut into two-inch cubes.
- Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan. Tilt the pan around to allow the melted butter to cover the entire bottom.
- Spread the beef cubes in the hot butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Leave until the undersides are seared. Give them quarter turns to brown all sides.
- Add the onion to the beef and cook, stirring, until the onion softens.
- Pour in the bone broth and add the bay leaves.
- Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer until the beef is tender.
Make the Bechamel sauce
- Melt the butter in a pan.
- Add the flour, all at once, and stir to remove lumps.
- Cook the butter and flour, stirring often, for about five minutes to make a blonde roux.
- With one hand, pour in the milk slowly while you stir the contents of the pan with the other hand.
- Cook the sauce for a few minutes, stirring often. The Bechamel sauce will be very thick and may appear lumpy. That's ok.
- Stir in the cream and nutmeg then turn off the heat.
Complete the cremy white stew
- When the beef is tender, drop in the carrot and potato pieces. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the green beans and straw mushrooms, and simmer for another five minutes.
- Calculate the remaining liquid in the pan. You should have about two cups. If the liquid is less than that, pour in the reserved mushroom liquid so that you have two cups of liquid in the pan.
- Stir in the Bechamel sauce, a quarter cup at a time.
- Allow the stew to come to a simmer before turning off the heat.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Serve your creamy white stew
- The stew goes well with rice or bread.