Recreated Captain Sanderson's Comissary Beef Stew


Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
May 12, 2010
Now Florida but always a Kentuckian
This recipe for Captain Sanderson's Comissary beef stew, is an adaption of an original beef stew fed to the Union Army.

2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 2 inch chucks
2 tablespoons pork fat or lard (vegetable fat can be substituted)
3 quarts plus 1/2 cup water
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 leek, trimmed, sliced, and rinsed clean
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vinegar

optional ingredients chopped turnips or salsify

Sprinkle the stew meat with salt and pepper. Heat the fat in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the meat and saute for a few minutes, stirring frequently, till well browned, but not fully cooked.

Transfer the browned meat to a large pot and cover with 3 quarts (12 cups) of water. Bring to a boil. Skim the fat that rises to the surface. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips and sliced leek to the pot. If you have turnips or salsify, add now too,

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour with 1/2 cup cold water till a thick, smooth liquid forms. Slowly stir the flour water into the stew pot. Season the pot with salt and pepper ( recommend 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper or more or less to taste). Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a low simmer. Let the stew simmer for 3 1/2 hours, stirring periodically and skimming any fat that rises to the top. If the stew becomes too thick, you can add additional liquid to thin.

At the end of cooking, the meat should be very tender and sauce rich and thick. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

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First Sergeant
Silver Patron
Feb 21, 2014
That book had a great impact. Compare the Sanderson recipe to this one which is called "Scout Stew"( from ). Almost every Scout leader has either prepared or taught the preparation of this dish:

1/4 lb. - lean beef per Scout (Beef stew meat, hamburger, etc.)
1 - medium-large potato per Scout (chopped to bite size)
1 - chopped large onion (yellow, Spanish, white, red - you choose)
1-2 - chopped carrots per Scout
1-2 - chopped celery stalks per Scout
1 - packet of Onion soup mix or beef stew mix
4-6 strips of bacon cut up or a few Table Spoon's of any cooking oil
Various spices to taste (Season salt, salt, celery salt, pepper, paprika, bay leave, etc. - you decide)

Dutch oven or Large mess kit pot

1.) Heat pot or Dutch oven.
2.) Add bacon and cook until done. Leave the bacon in the pan. This is now the oil needed to brown the beef and keep everything from sticking (Alternately use a few Table Spoon's of any cooking oil).
3.) Add beef and cook until brown on all sides.
4.) Add about a 1/4 of the potatoes and briefly brown. (Why are we only cooking a 1/4 of the potatoes now you ask? The potatoes contain starches that will help naturally thicken the sauce).
5.) Add packet of onion soup mix or beef stew mix and just enough water to cover ingredients.
6.) Cover and boil (simmer if possible) for 30 minutes.
7.) Check flavor and season as required.
8.) Add remaining ingredients and a cup of water.
9.) Cover and boil (simmer if possible) for 30 minutes.
10.) Remove cover and check consistency. If it is watery leave cover off and boil for another 15 minutes or add a little flour or Bisquick to thicken the sauce. If you don't have any flour throw a slice of bread in and stir.

CommentServe with a slice or two of bread to soak up the juices. Mmmmmm good.

Try adding a variety of different veggies (peas, peppers - (green, yellow, red, purple), rutabaga, tomatoes, eggplant, etc. to liven it up bit.

Try adding a can or two of Pork and beans for a Cowboy Scout Stew.

For a health conscious version try using Chicken breast instead of Beef.

For a kicked up Cajun Ken special Stew add some Andoule sausage, okra, Cajun seasoning and a bottle of Tabasco (OK - maybe just a few dashes). BAM. Now were talking.

Bon Appétit

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