Chuck-wagon stew

Total Time
1 hr 50 min
17 min
1 hr 33 min
Brimming with hearty beef, potatoes, and aromatic vegetables, this is the ultimate comfort meal to enjoy on a cool night. Cooking the beef on low and slow yields tender and juicy bites of meat. The bacon and liquid smoke give it an aroma that’s reminiscent of campfire cooking while the unusual addition of coffee, molasses, and chili sauce adds down-home richness to an otherwise basic stew recipe. For strong brewed coffee, use a scoop and a half of coffee to 6 ounces of water. Since the recipe is a complete meal, save some room for something sweet like roasted apples or a small bite of chocolate.


Uncooked reduced fat bacon

2 slice(s), thin, reduced-sodium

Uncooked lean beef round

16 oz, top, or (1 pound) trimmed of all visible fat and cut into 3⁄4-inch chunks

Table salt

¾ tsp

Black pepper

¼ tsp, freshly ground

All-purpose flour

1 Tbsp

Frozen pearl onion

½ pound(s)


4 medium, cut into 2-inch pieces


1½ cup(s)

Black coffee

1 cup(s), strong brewed

Chili sauce

2 Tbsp, or ketchup


1 Tbsp, mild

Uncooked potato

1 pound(s), all-purpose, peeled and cut into 3⁄4-inch chunks

Uncooked string beans

½ pound(s), or green beans

Liquid smoke flavoring

½ tsp

Hot pepper sauce

½ tsp


  1. Heat a nonstick Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain. Remove all but 2 teaspoons of the fat from the Dutch oven.
  2. Meanwhile, pat the beef chunks dry with a paper towel; sprinkle with the salt and 1⁄8 teaspoon of the pepper. Put the beef and flour in a zip-close plastic bag. Shake the bag until the beef is evenly coated with the flour. Add half of the beef to the bacon fat in the pot and cook over medium-high heat until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate. Repeat with the remaining beef.
  3. Add the onions and carrots to the pot. Cook, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon, until the onions are golden, about 3 minutes. Return the beef to the pot. Crumble the bacon and add to pot. Stir in the water, coffee, chili sauce, molasses, and the remaining 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Bring the stew to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, about 1 hour. Add the potatoes, green beans, liquid smoke, and pepper sauce. Simmer, covered, until the beef is fork-tender, about 20 minutes longer. Yields 2 1⁄2 cups per serving.