It’s when you cut food into even sized pieces and simmer them in a minimal amount of liquid or sauce that forms part of the stew.
There are three different ways to cook a stew although I have to admit I’ve only ever used the first two. The first way is the one that most of us would be familiar with where the food is cooked in a liquid that is thickened by the ingredients themselves.
The second, is when the food is cooked in a liquid from which a sauce is made and the last way would be when the food is cooked in a prepared sauce.
Usually a stew is cooked at around 180C in a heavy based saucepan with a suitable lid or a casserole. It’s a great method of cooking for a number of reasons, but the best ones are that it retains almost all the nutrients of the ingredients and it’s also quite cost-effective to make as less expensive meat cuts can be used.
With stews it’s particularly important to remember correct handling of your pans as not only is it easy to burn yourself but in many cases you will be lifting heavy pans with hot liquids inside in and out of your oven, be careful of your back and remember to lift with your legs 😉
In this house we regularly make steak or chicken stew, and occasionally a pot of lamb stew shows up – mainly due to the price of lamb. The vegetable ingredients are usually just whatever happens to be to hand, which means that celery, onions, carrots, garlic & parsnips are guaranteed to be thrown in the pot.
I also love to throw a sweet potato or two into the mix as they tend to disintegrate during the cooking process, acting as a beautiful thickening agent while also adding tons of flavour.
Stews are really cheap to make, especially if you have a large pot and can make substantial quantities at once. In winter we regularly just leave the pot on the stove and eat from it for several days, but you can also choose to freeze it in portions.
Today’s stew recipe is one I cooked recently. If you prefer your food more savoury then sweet, then you might want to leave out the sweet potatoes, as the sweetcorn and leeks add plenty of sweetness to the overall dish.
Dice up your ingredients to the size you want them in the final dish – some people don’t like huge chunks of carrot. This stew is very versatile, you can use it as a pie mix and top with mashed potato or puff pasty, I’ve even used it in the past as a vol-au-vent filling (make sure to dice everything up really fine for this one). Enjoy!