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