We started with 2 lbs. of beef stew meat. Both recipes mentioned using less stew meat and also using beef or pork liver. We didn't do this because the grocery store was actually out of liver, but if you're squeamish about liver, this would be a good alternative for you.
I browned the meat in a couple tablespoons of oil, then dumped the meat, oil, and beef drippings into a stock pot.
2 lbs. of cubed beef
Browning the beef in oil
After I transferred the beef to the stock pot, I added a chopped up onion (a large one), four cups of beef stock (I used Emeril beef stock- it had less additives than the other grocery store stocks and I just have not had the time to make beef stock lately), and a couple cups of water. I brought this all to a boil and then let it simmer.
Adding onions and stock to the beef
While my pot of beef and onions simmered away, I added a little more olive oil to my beef skillet and threw a whole head of minced garlic in there (tip - if your hands/knife/counter/cutting board reek of garlic after this chopping bonanza, rub them with half a lemon before washing - it neutralizes the odor). The recipe said to cook the garlic until fragrant; as my kitchen was already pretty pungent, I just sort of winged it.
Garlic browning in oil
After I determined the garlic was fragrant enough, I added about 1.5-2 cups of tomato sauce or puree and 1/3 cup of white vinegar. After giving it a stir, I added some grated parmesan (one recipe said cheddar, one said parm - I had parm in the fridge, so parm it was), salt, pepper, and two tablespoons of sugar. I stirred this together and simmered for about six or seven minutes.
Adding vinegar to the garlic and tomato sauce
Parm, sugar, salt, and pepper
After the tomato mixture came together, I added it to my simmering stock pot of beef and onions. I let that all simmer for 30 minutes, then gave it a quick stir, added some tomato paste (to thicken it up) and some chopped up carrots, then let it simmer for another 30 minutes. At that point, I threw in a chopped red pepper and let it go while Noe cooked the rice. When the rice cooker light went off, we determined dinner was ready.
The finished product over rice
All in all, this turned out pretty well. It had a nice richness, probably from the beef stock along with the drippings and oil added at the beginning. The tomato sauce was nice and tangy, but Noe and I agreed that perhaps more sugar to balance out the acidity would have made this even better. Both recipes had various things that we did not add (one had peas, one had olives, one even had pickles) which may have enhanced the overall flavor, but Noe and I were happy with just the onions, garlic, carrots, and pepper.
If you're into comfort food and looking for an alternative to beef stew, this recipe might be a good option for you. Play with a little bit - Noe and I will be!