How to Stew

A good, hearty stew is the ultimate comfort food, and it’s also easy to make. This how to stew article provides the steps to follow and tools you’ll need, plus some great stewing tips.

Stew 101

Stew is warm comfort food that can be waiting for you in the slow cooker after work or prepared in a Dutch oven at your own pace. It’s an especially good way to cook tough cuts of meat because the long stewing process softens tough connective tissue. And because those cuts are generally cheaper, stewing is also a very cost-effective way to cook. Vegetables are a core component of any meat-based stew, but a vegetable-only stew can be equally delicious. 

Stewing vs. Braising

Both methods use moist heat and cook slowly to tenderize tougher cuts of meat, creating a rich broth. Braised meats are most often large cuts such as a beef pot roast that is partially covered in liquid. Stew contains smaller, uniform pieces of meat and vegetables that are cooked in liquid together.

Stewing Tools and Steps

Only a few tools are needed to make stew, such as a Dutch oven or a slow cooker. Dutch ovens are heavy cast iron or stainless steel pots with a tight fitting lid. Enamel coated pots are best because the enamel prevents the stew from taking on any flavour of previously cooked meals. A flat-edged wooden spatula is ideal for the deglazing process.
Stewing Steps:
  1. Sauté the onions and garlic (or shallots and leeks) until golden brown and remove from the pan.
  2. Place the meat in a bowl of flour and toss to coat, and then shake off the excess flour. The coating cooks quickly when the meat is seared, sealing in the juices, and the flour also helps thicken the stew.
  3. Brown the meat in the pan with a thin layer of oil over medium-high heat. Sear smaller portions at a time rather than crowding the pan. Remove the meat and get ready to deglaze.
  4. Deglazing is done by adding liquid (usually wine) to the pan, which is brought to a boil while scraping the browned bits off of the pan. These small bits are what dissolve into the gravy to add flavour.
  5. Once the meat is all cooked, return it to the pan along with the sautéed vegetables, cover with liquid and simmer.

Beef Stew

Beef stew is the most traditional version of this meal. It’s easy and inexpensive. While you may decide to mix in different ingredients or try new recipes, the classic version includes chuck roast, onions, carrots, potatoes and celery in a savoury broth of red wine, herbs and garlic. Other options to try are beef and mushroom, a tomato and ginger based broth or swapping the wine for beer.

Chicken & Turkey Stew

Use a combination of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs for chicken stews. The breast meat has a pleasantly firm texture, while the thighs offer meaty richness similar to that of pork. Chicken and dumplings is a comforting meal, with tender chunks of chicken and vegetables topped with fluffy biscuit-like dumplings and a thick sauce.
Turkey stew can be prepared with thighs or legs — even leftovers from a holiday meal can be used. Like chicken, turkey stew can also be topped with dumplings along with onion, celery, carrots and other root vegetables.  

Lamb Stew

The perfect meat for lamb stew is cut from the shoulder because it cooks to such a tender consistency. There are many popular types of lamb stew, such as Irish Stew, Ireland’s national dish, made with mutton (more aged meat from the sheep) or lamb. Potatoes, carrots, onions and leeks are common accompaniments to the meal. Moroccan lamb stew — made with onions, dates and scallions served over couscous — is also delicious.

Fish Stew

The key ingredient for a quick fish stew is clam juice, although it can be substituted with white wine, fish stock or water. Salmon, white fish, cod, halibut, tilapia or sole will all result in a great meal. Try making a Mediterranean, Brazilian or bouillabaisse version. 

Pork Stew

Pork stew most often calls for the pork shoulder because it’s has more fat and cooks longer than the tenderloin cut. The meat lends itself to different types of stew from different regions such as a spicy jerk stew from the Caribbean or Hungarian goulash. 

Vegetable Stew

A stew can be just as delicious without meat and the options are virtually endless. Popular choices include Italian vegetable stew with pesto, Middle Eastern vegetable stew with sesame seeds, thyme, sumac, marjoram and oregano, and classic winter vegetable stew with potatoes, chestnuts, cauliflower and squash.

Stewing Tips:

• Add potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables about an hour before serving so  they maintain some of their firmness and nutritional value
• Top up your stew with more liquid if necessary but allow 20 minutes for it to mix in before serving
• Add dried herbs early in the stewing process so they fully break down
• Add fresh herbs later in the stewing process so they retain some of their body and flavour
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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