A good recipe for old-fashioned beef stew is Paula Deen’s old-time beef btew, which makes six servings. It starts with browning 2 pounds stew beef in 2 tablespoons hot vegetable oil.
Add 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 clove peeled garlic, 1 or 2 bay leaves, 1 sliced medium onion, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon paprika, and a dash of ground allspice or ground cloves. Simmer the mixture covered for 1 ½ hours. Remove the bay leaves and garlic clove. Add 3 sliced large carrots and 3 chopped celery ribs. Cook the mixture covered for another 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove 2 cups of hot liquid to thicken the gravy. In a separate bowl, combine ¼ cup water and 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Mix with a small amount of hot liquid, and add the mixture to the stew. Continue cooking and stirring until bubbly.
Betty Crocker offers a slow cooker version. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet or Dutch oven. Add 1 ½ pounds beef stew pieces, and cook until brown. Spray a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray, and add beef.
Mix in 4 sliced medium carrots, 3 peeled and cubed medium red potatoes, 1 large onion cut into pieces, 1 medium stalk celery cut into pieces, 3 cups vegetable juice, 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca, 1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook covered on low for nine to 10 hours.