Nothing says comfort food like a hearty bowl full of stew. Follow our steps and you will be well on your way to mastering these one-bowl wonders.
Photo: John Autry
January 26, 2011
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Foolproof Stew Making
Stew making is comfort-food alchemy: Bites of meat—usually taken from tough, sinewy muscles—cook low and slow with hearty veggies, bubbling away until flavors meld and the meat loosens and gains buttery texture. The technique is straightforward, but the cook needs to avoid simple mistakes that often come from speeding the process—boiling rather than simmering, or skimping on the first steps that build deep flavor. Read on for foolproof tips and healthy stew recipes.
Recipe Tip: Tough cuts of meat that lend themselves to stews tend to be fatty, so you need to trim them well for healthy results.
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1. Build a Flavor Foundation
Build a flavor foundation by browning meat and aromatic ingredients. This step leaves tasty browned bits in the bottom of the pan that add complexity to the stew.
Recipe Tip: Cut meat and veggies into roughly equal-sized pieces so they'll cook evenly.
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2. Concentrate Flavor
Add a flavorful (usually acidic) liquid like wine to the pan, scraping the bits off the bottom as you bring the mixture to a boil. Cook briefly to concentrate the flavor.
Recipe Tip: Anaheim chiles are mild; try poblanos or jalepeños if you want to turn up the heat on this Latin-inspired stew.
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3. Thicken Stew
Stir in broth or water to cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently. Then uncover and cook until the meat is fork-tender and the stew thickens.