Cool nights call for warm and filling meals. My favorite nostalgic meal is a stew—a dish of meat and vegetables cooked slowly in liquid in a closed dish or pan. I love the smell of a simmering stew, and I like to include different ingredients to keep interesting.
Whether you use the stove or a slow cooker, stews need to simmer as long as possible so all the flavor gets absorbed into the meat, vegetables, and potatoes, and the broth is thick. A thin broth makes the dish a soup, not a stew.
Here are my top stew-making tips:
Beef is the most common type of meat used in stew. You can find cubed stew beef at the grocery store. Switch it up to lamb and you have an Irish stew. Chicken is yet another option. Hellawella offers some help in picking out the best meat for stews. If you don’t like meat, simply substitute with a type of bean, like cannellini or navy. You can still use beef or chicken stock and reduce it to a thick sauce, or use vegetable broth if you are a vegetarian.
Onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes are typically included in stew, but don’t hesitate to get creative. Feel free to try turnips, rutabaga, green beans, kale, or any other veggies you’ve recently bought or harvested.
Start with beef, vegetable, or chicken broth, and as your stew cooks the flavor of the meat and vegetables will be absorbed by the sauce. Add herbs and spices to taste; you can even try steak sauce or pepper flakes for a little kick. When your stew is about halfway done, add cornstarch or flour (mixed first with a little water) to thicken the broth. You can also remove the lid of your pan or crockpot toward the end of cooking. Remember, a thick broth is what makes stew different from soups.
Try this simple stew recipe to get you started:
Classic Beef Stew
- 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 ½ cups beef broth
- 3 potatoes, diced
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
Place meat in slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together the flour, salt and pepper and pour over meat, stirring to coat.
- Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, onion, beef broth, potatoes, carrots and celery.
- Cover and cook on low setting for 10 to 12 hours, or on the high setting for 4 to 6 hours.
Stews can be eaten from a bowl or even poured over biscuits. Make sure to have enough bread to soak up the delicious broth.