Also known as a community stew, a Mulligan Stew is a tasty way to bring folks together. This beef and potato stew is ideal comfort food on a chilly winter day!
If ever there was a time for a mulligan, it’s now. 2020 was a bit of a hot mess, wouldn’t you agree? The Great Quarantine was nice in some ways in that I got to spend a lot of time with Laura, Robbie and our two new puppies. But trying to work while also edutaining (that’d be educating + entertaining) a 4-year-old is enough to drive anyone mad. Let’s take a mulligan on 2020 and start the new year with a clean slate!
The term mulligan is often used in golf when a player gets to take an extra free shot following a particularly bad shot. You basically get to replay the shot. That’s how I feel about 2020. Let’s just put the ball back on the tee and try that year again. (On a related note, did you know that the opposite of a mulligan is a ‘gilligan?’ That’s when an opponent can request that you make a particularly good shot again. Maybe 2021 can be a gilligan year!)
Despite the use of the term above, Mulligan Stew is actually not related to golf. Like many recipes, the naming origins of Mulligan Stew are a bit murky. However, it is generally accepted that this stew originates from Ireland where ‘mulligan’ is a stand-in term referring to an Irishman. Mulligan Stew is essentially a classic Irish stew, but with the use of beef instead of mutton.
This stew is a popular ‘community stew’ where each member of the community contributes part of the recipe. Someone builds a fire for cooking. Someone else finds the meat. Another person rustles up whatever veggies they can find. The finished stew is essentially a catch-all recipe using whatever ingredients are available. A Mulligan Stew is also called a ‘hobo stew’ as it was a popular meal in hobo camps in the early 1900’s. The stew was often cooked in a large can over an open fire.
Other regional variations of the Mulligan Stew are quite popular, too. In Kentucky, the term ‘burgoo’ refers to a communal stew, although burgoo is often spicier than Mulligan Stew. In fact, a study by the Works Progress Administration noted that the concept of burgoo began when a Confederate army cook put “potatoes, tomatoes, onions, some cabbage, twenty-nine blackbirds, three crows, a goose, several hens, and a young pig” in a powder kettle and let the whole thing simmer. Talk about a stew made from whatever you could find!
Mulligan Stew has certainly evolved over the years. After all, I don’t think hobos would have had ready access to beef and frozen veggies. And this version is cooked on a stovetop and in the oven rather than over an open fire. I’m sure it could still be cooked over an open fire, but I don’t have a lot of experience in that type of cooking. That, and it’s really flippin’ cold outside right now – I think I’ll stay inside. Nevertheless, the point remains that this stew is a great catch-all recipe that uses whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. (Thus the use of both fresh and frozen veggies in this recipe.)
As we head into the new year, I hope this year is much better than the last! Cheers, and I hope you enjoy a good hot bowl of this Mulligan Stew sometime soon!
Did you make this Mulligan Stew at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). I’d love to see your version!
- 2½-3 lbs beef stew meat cut into 1” cubes (see note)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil divided
- 4 large carrots sliced
- 3 celery ribs sliced
- 1 large white onion chopped
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried dill
- 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes, undrained
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 large yellow potatoes peeled and cut into 1” cubes
- 24 oz. mixed frozen vegetables i.e. peas, corn, green beans, carrots, etc.
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Pat cubed beef dry with paper towels and place in a large bowl. Add flour, pepper and salt; toss until well combined.
- Using a Dutch oven, add 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil and place over medium heat. Once hot, add half of beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is browned on all sides (~5-6 minutes). Transfer browned beef to a plate and repeat with 1 more Tbsp of vegetable oil and the remaining beef. Transfer second batch of browned beef to plate as well.
- Add remaining 1 Tbsp of oil to the pot along with the carrots, celery and onions. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until onions have just begun to soften.
- Add minced garlic, onion powder, oregano and dill; stir until well combined. Continue sautéing for 1-2 more minutes, stirring often.
- Add undrained crushed tomatoes and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until most of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated.
- Add broth and beef; increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a simmer. Once simmering, cover and place pot in the oven. Cook for 1 hour.
- Remove pot from oven; add cubed potatoes and frozen veggies; stir until well combined. Cover and return pot to oven for 1½ more hours.
- If stew needs thickening, whisk together cornstarch with 2 Tbsp of water. Stir corn starch mixture into stew.
- Divide stew into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh parsley before serving.
Looking for other tasty soup and stew recipes? Check out these other favorites, too: