Give Your Beef Stew a Swift Kick in the Pants! (Spicy-Sweet Beef with Harissa and Carrots)

Cold weather is the perfect time for stews and soups. Beef with harissa and carrots is unexpected, and a great way to shake up your repertoire.


Harissa is a North African condiment found at most grocery stores. It is a chili paste that usually contains dried hot red pepper, caraway, coriander, cumin and garlic. It is inexpensive and keeps a long time in the refrigerator – which is good since a little goes a long way.  Besides this beef stew, it’s also wakes up chicken, eggs and grains.

I call for quite a bit of harissa in this recipe. It’s not quite enough to put hair on your chest, but it’s a forward ingredient. Dial it back if you prefer. That said, the addition of plenty of carrots and honey balances out the flavor and adds natural sweetness.

I have made this as a stew with a little of the sauce over grains or potatoes. I have also made this as a soup, using a good ladle of braising sauce with pearl (Israeli) couscous. This is even better the next day if you want to make it a day ahead and reheat it on your stovetop.



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Spicy-Sweet Beef with Harissa and Carrots

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print


  • 2 pounds (about 1 kg) beef (chuck roast, or similar) cut in 1 1/2 – 2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 28 oz can of whole, peeled tomatoes (plum or San Marzano), crushed by hand or chopped, including juices
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, and cut into 10-12 wedges with a little of the root end intact to hold each piece together
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and cut into approximately 2-inch pieces
  • 2-3 tablespoons harissa paste
  • 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed, but left whole
  • 3 bay leaves (fresh is preferable, but dry is ok)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt (not iodized table salt) divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over the beef cubes
  2. In a large skillet or a Dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil and brown each side of the beef cubes. This may take a couple of batches. Once browned, set aside on a plate
  3. Deglaze pan by adding in the wine and scrapping all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the wine from the pan to the crockpot or Dutch oven
  4. In a crock pot or Dutch oven, add the broth, 2-3 tablespoons of harissa paste, remaining teaspoon of salt, pepper, crushed or diced tomatoes, bay leaves and garlic. Stir well to combine. Note: 2 tablespoons of harissa is noticeable; 3 tablespoons is hot. Adjust to your preference and tolerance
  5. Add the browned beef to the crock pot or Dutch oven including all juices. If using a crock pot, set it to Low for 9 – 10 hours. If using a Dutch oven, bring the contents to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer, cover with lid and simmer for a total of 3 – 4 hours or until beef is fork tender. I give a time range here because each cut of beef is different and cooks differently. To test for doneness, use two forks to pry a beef cube apart. If it pulls apart very easily, it is done. If not, give it another 30 minutes and test it again. Repeat the 30 minute increment as necessary. Additionally, if using a Dutch oven, check on the liquid level at the two-hour mark. If there is less than 2 inches of liquid, add additional beef broth
  6. If using a crock pot, add the carrots, onion wedges and honey (if using) 5 hours before the final cooking time. If using a Dutch oven, add the vegetables and honey 60 minutes before the final cooking time
  7. At the end of the cooking time, remove the bay leaves and garlic
  8. Using a slotted spoon, serve beef and vegetables over couscous, pearled couscous (aka, Israeli couscous), rice, quinoa, or mashed potatoes

Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

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