Boy Scout Stew

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Boy Scout Stew is a hearty and delicious stew made with ground beef and other ingredients from the pantry.

Hello everyone – Jack here. Many, many, many, many years ago, I was a Boy Scout. To this day, I have very fond and different memories of going to an explorer scouting camp overnight with my father (aka Grampa) as part of earning a merit badge.

I was twelve at the time, and I still have such vivid memories of that camping trip, mainly because I was able to spend uninterrupted time with my father, plus almost all kids that age love being outside and on an adventure.

As part of the responsibilities for obtaining the badge, we were asked to prepare a menu, be sure to bring the necessary ingredients and kitchen utensils. Then, after walking to our camp for the night, we snuggled up, pitched our tents, built a fire, and cooked that delicious campfire stew.


What is Boy Scout Stew?

Boy Scout Stew is also sometimes called Cowboy Stew. I'm not sure which version came first, but the premise is the same. A hearty stew that sticks to the ribs and can be cooked over a campfire in the middle of nowhere.

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I suppose some authentic variations on this stew were made with dried beans and possibly dried or smoked meats that traveled well without refrigeration, but in my boy scout days, I remember hauling cans of beans, onions, potatoes, and corn. (Our backpacks were much lighter coming home.)

Full disclosure: It was a long time ago, and I'm a little confused about the exact Boy Scout campfire stew recipe we cooked. So, I made today's recipe a little impromptu, adding some varieties of canned beans that didn't exist back then.


Regardless, I am pleased to report that I earned a merit badge that night. But not before a dozen almost teenage boys sitting around the campfire, eating much of beans (You can use your imagination on what happened next, after the beans started to digest.) 😉

That same night, it rained like it had never rained before. Our camp, which was built on a hill, was razed. At 5:00 am. The next morning, my dad and I were home, soaking wet and tired, but we had enjoyed every minute of our camping trip.

You can enjoy these other hearty dishes:



2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 pound ground beef

2 cups onion, cut into large pieces, about one large onion

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 "pieces (I used New Red)

1 14.5-ounce can beef broth

2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes

* 2 8.5-ounce cans Baked Bush Beans

* 1 22.5 ounce can of Bush’s Steakhouse Grillin beans

1 15.5-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 14.5-ounce can corn kernels, drained

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of ground chili powder

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium or large bottom skillet or Dutch oven, over medium heat, add olive oil and once hot add the meat and onions.

Break the meat and cook until golden brown.

Add all other ingredients and simmer, cover and place in oven for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Serve hot.


* You can use any brand of beans in this recipe, and if you use Bush beans, any flavor profile you want. I liked the "Sirloin Beans" because they had brown sugar and meat sauce as a base, but I used whatever flavor I wanted.


Appears in this Boy Scout Stew post


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