Of course the stew takes several hours to cook, but I can deal with stirring every 15 minutes or so. Just be warned: there's no such thing as making this ONCE. I guarantee you'll be on the hook to make it all the time.
Makes 6 portions for light eaters and 3-4 if you have a family like mine.
2 lbs. stew beef, cubed
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2-3 cups beef broth or stock
1-2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled, whole
1 bay leaf
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 small bag of baby carrots
2-3 stalks of celery
1 can of peas, drained
1-2 tbsp. cornstarch
Heat oil in large pot. Brown the meat in the hot oil. Add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaf, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, and paprika. (Yes, you read that correctly, no need to saute the onions and garlic and all that stuff that usually takes up so much time. Don't you love it?) If you like your stew saucy, use 3 cups of broth; if you want it thicker and denser, use only 2.
Cover and simmer for about 1.5 hours. Remove the bay leaf and the garlic (if you can find it - often the garlic seems to have vanished, but it doesn't matter). Add carrots and celery and simmer for another 30-40 minutes. Add the peas in the last 5 minutes.
Thicken the gravy by mixing 1-2 tbsp. of cornstarch with COLD water (don't use warm water, or you will get lumps). Remove 1/4 cup of hot liquid from the stew and mix that in too. Stir the mix back into the stew and cook until bubbly.
Serve with boiled potatoes and, if you wish, a side salad.