Some recommendations for stew.

A commenter wanted the recipe for the venison stew I ate earlier today – which I don’t have, because I didn’t make it.  But I can make a couple of helpful suggestions in general:

  • Brown the meat in the pot that you’re going to to be making the stew in.  Toss in some onions and minced garlic there, too.
  • Yes, I’m going to tell you: cast iron.  Just use it, OK? – Cliche or no.
  • Use stock or broth instead of water.  Heat that up before you add it to the meat.
  • The real – the absolutely real – trick to stew is to leave the damn thing alone.  Give the meat & broth some time to simmer.  Like a couple of hours.
  • Add your vegetables well after that simmering.
  • Don’t go nuts.  Onions, carrots, potatoes, a bay leaf or two, pepper, salt… oh, and a handful of rice. I used to put in peppers and mushrooms, only nobody noticed when I didn’t.  Your mileage will vary on this one.

All in all, a good stew is something you assemble over the course of an afternoon.

11 thoughts on “Some recommendations for stew.”

  1. Well heck yeah, use cast iron. My mother is still using some of her mother’s cast iron… maybe ~70-80 years old, I guess, and still cooks beautifully. Stainless steel is okay, but there’s just nothing that compares to cast iron cook ware. Nothing.

    1. Absolutely agree, qixqatl and Moe… properly seasoned, heated, and oiled cast iron is also relatively non-stick.. and anything that *does* stick can be removed with a heavy metal spatula or one of those stainless steel scrub pad things.
      I’m not a “stew” fan, but most of the notes above apply to something I *do* love, crock pot roast beef. The difference between a seared roast and a non-seared roast, both in terms of flavor and moisture, is remarkable.
      I start, first thing in the morning, frying a package of bacon in an old cast iron pan .. I *think* it came from Mrs. Cat’s grandmother, not sure.
      After the bacon’s cooked, I sear the roast in the bacon grease. About a minute per side, so 6 minutes total. Then, the roast, a diced onion, and a crushed clove of garlic go into a crock pot. Next, *pour the hot bacon/beef grease over the roast*. (saves on cleanup)
      Add a bit of salt and pepper, and simmer – covered – for 8+ hours.
      Now that the hard part’s done, *eat the bacon*!
      As for all that grease, well, after I lift all the pieces of roast beef out of the crock pot and strain out the onions, the juices and greases go in the ‘fridge for an hour, where it automatically rises to the top and congeals for easy removal, leaving me juices for gravy.

    2. I used cast iron pans every day, and for beans, stews, etc, a cast iron dutch oven. I only go with new fangled stuff when making acidic sauces.

      * then again, I am old school and a bit of a cliche to some.

  2. my stew recipe is the basic open can – heat, eat. but I’ve got some deer sausage a friend gave me and I’ve been wondering what to do with it. This sounds good, but I’ll thicken it up and serve it over rice. (I can cook, and quite well, but most of my cooking is Chinese food.)

  3. The only hard part about this stew is you have to go shoot the SOB. That is, unless you live in more rural areas or around a lot of hunter friends, in that case venison is all over the joint. I am not keen on paying exorbitant prices for that New Zealand stuff.

    1. I’m hardly rural, Doc, but the local butcher (not a chain store, actual butcher shop) stocks venison.
      You have to know to ask for it, though .. they don’t advertise – Bambi issues.

      1. There’s a local grocery store that has a whole case dedicated to “exotic game”. But, then, they also have entire pig’s heads in the pork case.

  4. When cooking stews or braised meats, remember that there are two classes of vegetables: the minced ones that you soften after browning the meat and then cook into the broth and the chunky ones you add in the last hour or so.

  5. I also prefer cast iron and in a pinch they make handy weapons. when cooking venison I’ve always found cooking hot and fast is best.

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