3 Tips to make a Great Stew

by katerina on September 28, 2010

Everyone loves a rustic, hearty warm stew on a cold or rainy day. Making stews is easy, but to make a great stew you need to carefully choose the right meat, brown it well then cook it low and slow.

Use the right meat for the job. Choose tough, well marbled pieces of meat with lots of connective tissue. They won’t dry out in the long cooking time but rather the tissue and marbling will melt and give the stew body. Meat from the shoulders or legs of the animal work well. For example, shanks, chuck, and rib meat are all good choices.

Brown the meat well. Caramelizing the meat will help develop the flavour of the stew. Carefully control the heat during this process so you get good colour on the meat without burning the brown bits left in the pan. The brown bits are flavour if brown, and bitterness if black. If you do burn them, discard them so your stew doesn’t have a burnt flavour.

Don’t rush it. Cook stews at a very low temperature, just below a simmer if possible. The meat is then allowed to become tender in it’s own time. The oven is great as it helps control the temperature for you, but the stovetop works as well. Each cut of meat is different so if it is dinner time and your meat isn’t ready yet, have another glass of wine and give it another hour.

Stay tuned for a new easy beef stew recipe this week.

Here are a few great stew and braising recipes to put these tips into practice with:
Provencal Beef Shank Stew
Stout Braised Short Ribs
Lamb Shanks with White Wine and Tomatoes
Pork Shoulder Braised in White Wine and Sage



{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Karyn September 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

gahhh i would LOVE a hearty stew if only the weather complied! it’s been oddly warm around here. you don’t mention this but would a crock pot work well for this? i’d imagine yes because it fulfills the “don’t rush it” rule you mention in the post :)

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katerina September 28, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Karyn – you could totally apply this to the slow cooker! Just brown everything in a pan first, a crockpot won’t caramelize for you. Then transfer to the crockpot for the “long, slow” part.

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Mags September 28, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Great post with a lot of useful information. Now, hand over that le creuset and nobody gets hurt.

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katerina September 28, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Mags – you will have to pry it from my cold dead hands.

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Jessica Feldman April 14, 2011 at 8:22 am

Great site! I’m pretty sure that Le Creuset sticker is supposed to come off though. I keep mine in my cookbooks like a total dork, lol. I love your photos and the layout of the blog is nice. Are you using a framework?

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katerina April 14, 2011 at 8:45 am

Jessica – glad you like the site! I know about the sticker, I didn’t realize until I went to wash the pot (that was the first time it got used) that it came off. It kinds looks like a le creuset ad doesn’t it? oops.

I am using self-hosted Wordpress with the Headlines theme (highly modified).

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