Stew is one of the most satisfying meals on the planet. Who doesn’t love a good stew? But if you don’t know just a few basics, you could end up with a stew that is almost in-edible — I know from first-hand experience. A mistake made in my teens when yes, I was trying to impress my older brothers guy-friend. No one was impressed!!
Here are some key tips (and a few of my favourite recipes too):
- Buy the right beef! Don’t use lean hip cuts (like eye of round) as these will turn out dry and what I call ‘chippy’. Do use cuts from the shank, blade or short rib. These cuts are the best for simmering (a.k.a. braising). To make sure you get the right cut, pick out the cuts mentioned as a steak or roast and have the meat counter staff cut it into cubes for you or cut it into cubes yourself. You’ll likely have better results than you would if you purchase ‘stewing cubes’ as this can be a mix of cuts.
- Keep beef cubes roughly the same size and trim them – this way beef will all cook at about the same time
- Use the right pot – a Dutch oven made from enamelled cast iron just can’t be beat – think Le Creuset for example.
- Brown the beef cubes before stewing to develop flavour and rich stew colour. Brown the cubes in batches so you don’t crowd the pan (which reduces browning).
- For Stew, the secret is in the simmer. Go slow. Take your time. Use a 325ºF oven for a good even heat or a slow cooker will do the trick too.
- For the best flavour, make the stew a day in advance of serving. There is something about having stew sit in the fridge overnight that helps blend the flavours together in some magical alchemy. The sum of the parts are greater than the whole.
Island Inspired Stew
Curried Beef Stew
NOTE – the recipes here can easily adapt to slow cooker by reducing liquid by about a third. Slow cook on the low setting for best results.
Let us know how your stew works out – hopefully the older brother’s guy-friend will be impressed with you!