I am sure I have said it before but there is something about slow cooking that is satisfying, sexy and calming at the same time- the marriage of flavours over time the way they thicken and enrich, the way meat becomes so tender it falls apart, and vegetables soak up coking liquor they become plump and tasty…
Stew, casseroles, goulash, melange what ever you like to call it, I think they are awesome.
All they really are is slow cooked meat with vegetables and some liquid to make a sauce.
I know that is very primitive of me but its true…
Basic stew formula
Meat- the cheaper the cut the better- on the bone is always more tasty, could be poultry, beef, veal, pork, lamb even fish.
Vegetables– you cant really go wrong with a mirepoix (its a cooking term for celery, onions and carrot, pronounced me-er pwah) I also like garlic, leek, kumara, pumpkin, turnip, swede, parsnip- Usually root vegetables.
Alcohol– white wine, red wine, beer, these are lovely to impart a richness to the stew but not a necessity- use to deglaze the pan as to burn off some of the alcohol. (To deglaze a pan means adding liquid such as stock or wine to a pan to loosen and dissolve food particles that are stuck to the bottom.)
Liquid– stock (either homemade or store bought- both are fine- just watch salt levels)
water, tinned tomatoes (or fresh), juice
– A thickening agent such as flour/corn flour can be added
-Then later addition of softer vegetables (mushrooms, courgette, capsicums etc)
-Herbs and spices
The general method of preparing a stew is:
Sear meat on all sides in a little oil/ butter until deep brown. Set the meat aside.
In the same pan, cook chopped mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery) or any vegetables you like until golden brown. Add any dried herbs and spices at this point.
Deglaze with liquid – wine, beer , stock, water- whatever the recipe, or your taste, calls for.
Add the meat back to the pan. Pour in enough liquid to just cover the meat, and bring it to a simmer.
Cover tightly, and finish stewing in the oven at a low temperature – around 160-180c.
This could take anywhere from just 10 minutes for some vegetables and fish to upwards of two hours for tougher cuts of beef or mutton. Again, check your recipe.Remove the pot from the oven, and skim off any unwanted fat. If the liquid is thinner than you want it to be, you can thicken it with some cornstarch or flour dissolved in cold liquid, make sure you bring the cooking liquid up to a boil so the starch can cook out and can thicken the cooking liquid
-You can also dredge chunks of meat in seasoned flour before frying (this will help thicken the stew later.)
Tonight I am making Beef shin- carrot, celery, onion, garlic, bayleaf, white wine, tinned tomato also some tomato paste for richness
Not the most glamorous styled photo but to be honest I had to take it quickly before Mr Lid devoured it!!