This beef stew with cheesy polenta is comfort food. The beef is so tender, and the polenta is the perfect pairing that makes this dish feel restaurant quality.
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It's pretty chilly here in Austin today. Bundle up with a coat, mittens, and a scarf-type of weather. And that winter citrus salad I posted earlier this week? Not gonna keep you warm. But this beef stew over cheesy polenta? Yes! Warming, filling, and so very tasty.
I first made this beef stew with polenta a few years ago. I remember the weather being very similar. It was cold. I didn't want to do anything but stay indoors. And luckily, I had prepared ahead of time and gotten all the ingredients I needed to make this beef stew. And oh. It was so good. I've made it again and again and again since that date. And now I want to share it with you. So you can make it again and again and again.
The only bad part about this recipe is the attention the polenta needs. You're basically standing at the stove for 30 minutes, stirring. This is where it's handy to have a significant other or friend to help you if you get tired. I also take my iPhone over to the stove so I can scroll through Instagram or Facebook while I'm stirring. But I will say... on cold days, it's nice to be right by that stove getting all toasty. And when you're done, you have a delicious beef stew and a cheesy, delicious polenta to warm you up.
For the Beef Stew
- Olive oil
- Diced carrots
- Diced white or yellow onion (1 small onion)
- Top round beef roast, or stew meat trimmed and cut into chunks
- Celery salt
- Herbs de Provence
- Dried sage
- Beef broth
- Dried parsley
For the Polenta
- Chicken stock
- Yellow cornmeal
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Grated sharp cheddar cheese
What is polenta?
Polenta is an Italian dish, usually made with dried cornmeal. It's mixed with liquid to form a creamy dish that's made with love (and a lot of stirring!) It can be creamy and delicious when made correctly.
Where to find polenta?
I like to get polenta in the bulk section of my grocery store. You can find it under the name polenta or cornmeal. You can also order it online from Amazon here. Make sure to use the dried cornmeal/polenta. The packaged instant version will not work in this recipe.
Why two kinds of cheese?
This polenta uses both parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese. I love the combination of both, which is why I include both. If you would prefer, you can just use parmesan though and use ¾ a cup of parmesan cheese. Try to get freshly grated, if you can! It makes all the difference. We keep a wedge in our refrigerator and use it in a variety of dishes, including this Instant Pot Parmesan Risotto.
What if my polenta gets lumpy?
If your polenta starts to get lumpy while cooking, take a whisk and stir vigorously to get the lumps out.
How to reheat polenta:
Reheating polenta can be tricky, but here's what I found to work best- take your polenta out and put it into a pot. Add some chicken stock or water, and heat on medium-low heat. Whisk frequently to break up the polenta. Add more liquid as needed. Add a touch of butter when it's at the consistency you want and heated through. Stir to combine, then eat.
How to make the beef stew with cheesy polenta:
Prep your ingredients by dicing your carrots and onion. Cut your beef into chunks, if it isn't already.
In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil, then add the onions and carrots to the pan and sauté 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
Once that is cooked, add the chunks of beef and sear all sides, stirring as needed. Add the celery salt, herbs de provence seasoning, dried sage, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine everything. Add enough beef broth to cover the meat (about 3 cups). Heat until boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer over a low heat for 2 hours. (Looking for a quicker beef stew recipe? Try our Instant Pot Beef Stew).
After 2 hours, combine the cornstarch with water to make a cornstarch slurry and then stir into the stew.
Meanwhile, about 1.5 hours into cooking the stew, start the polenta.
Heat the water and chicken stock in a large pot over high heat. Once the water is boiling, whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to low, and stir (almost) constantly with a wooden spoon until the polenta is thick and creamy. I like to see if a spoon will mostly stand up in the polenta without being held.
Once polenta is creamy, Turn off the heat and add the butter, cheeses, and black pepper. Stir to combine.
Serve the polenta and beef stew in the same bowl, either side by side or with the beef stew on top of the polenta. Top with dried or fresh parsley.
Beef Stew with Cheesy Parmesan Polenta
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups diced carrots
- 1 white or yellow onion small
- 1.5 lbs top round beef roast (or stew meat), trimmed and cut into chunks
- ⅛ tsp celery salt
- ½ tsp herbs de Provence
- ½ tsp dried sage
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp water
- dried or fresh parsley
Cheesy Parmesan Polenta
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 Tbsp butter
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup sharp cheddar cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or stew pot over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion, and cook 5-7 minutes until onions are translucent, stirring frequently.
- Add the chunks of beef and cook, until all edges are browned and no longer pink. Season with celery salt, salt, and pepper and add the herbs de provence and dried sage and stir to combine.
- Add enough beef broth to cover the meat (about 3 cups). Heat until boiling, then reduce to a simmer (med-low heat). Cook uncovered for 2 hours. In the last 10 minutes, combine the cornstarch with the water and mix. Then add to the beef stew and stir. This will help the stew thicken slightly.
- After 1.5 hours of the beef stew simmering, start the polenta.
- Add the water and chicken stock to a large pot and heat until boiling.
- Whisk in the cornmeal, then lower the heat to med-low. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 20-25 minutes, until polenta has thickened considerably. Remove from heat and add the butter, parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, and a healthy amount of black pepper.
- Spoon the polenta into a bowl and top with the beef stew. Sprinkle dried parsley over the top, if desired.