The Best Way To Incorporate Bacon Into Your Beef Stew

There is hearty comfort in a bowl of hot flavorful beef stew. Featuring tender beef, aromatic vegetables, and umami-rich tomato broth, the only thing that can make beef stew even more epic is adding a smoky ration of bacon. With bacon in the equation, an extra savory layer is built into the stew, with delicious results.

Still, adding bacon to your beef stew is not a no-brainer process. Like any other cut of meat, bacon tastes significantly better after it's been seared or fried before stewing in liquid. Otherwise, it can take on a rubbery taste and texture if cooked through boiling. This has a lot to do with bacon's rich amount of fat which needs to be properly rendered for full flavor and a non-floppy texture. As an added bonus, you can then saute the vegetables, aromatics, and even the beef in the excess bacon grease to roll in even more pork-rich flavor. From there you can bring the bacon back into the stew one of two ways. 

Making the most of your bacon and its grease

Both ways of adding bacon to your beef stew begin with cooking your bacon until crispy, either in the pot you'll be making the stew in or in a separate pan. You can cook it in rashers and then chop it, or chop it first, before sauteeing. If you want to use the bacon fat to saute other stew ingredients, feel free, but make sure to use only two or so tablespoons of fat per recipe. If you have more than that, you'll risk having an overly greasy stew. You can simply discard the excess bacon grease (but don't pour it down the sink). 

From here, you can add your bacon in two separate steps. If you'd like to thoroughly infuse the stew with bacon flavor, add it in right as you would the beef so that the flavors can properly intermingle during the slow-cooking process. If you'd prefer to use the bacon as a crunchy, salty topping, crumble it on top of individual bowls of stew right before serving. Either way, you'll have preserved that signature bacon texture and taste for the best beef stew possible.