Son of a Gun Beef Stew

This stew was a mainstay for many chuck wagon cooks of the early cattle drives. It was often used at social gatherings when visitors would bring a variety of ingredients. This recipe has been modernized for convenience but should be cooked in a well-seasoned cast iron kettle. It can be cooked over an open campfire, charcoal, or on a modern stove.



  • Cooking oil as necessary
  • 1 (2 pound) London broil beef, chopped into small squares
  • 6 potatoes, peeled and chopped into small squares
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 cups peeled carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn
  • 1 cup peas, fresh, frozen or canned
  • 1/4 cup broccoli, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup turnip, chopped (optional)
  • 1 1/2 pounds frozen chopped mixed vegetables
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 3 whole bay leaves
  • 4 teaspoons parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon basil
  • Cornstarch


  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven or large skillet.
  2. Add garlic and chopped beef. Brown beef on all sides.
  3. Add onion, stewed tomatoes, and 3 quarts of water.
  4. Add seasoning, tomatoes, potatoes, and onion and simmer for 2 hours watching carefully to be sure the pot doesn't go dry.
  5. Add vegetables and pearl barley and simmer covered for 1 hour. Add water as needed.
  6. Thicken stew with cornstarch.

Source: Festival of the West, Scottsdale, Arizona