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Stewing 101

The Martha Stewart Show, January 2009

When it's cold outside, there is nothing more satisfying than a pot of warm, hearty stew. Plus, stews are relatively inexpensive to make because they're best when made with inexpensive cuts of meat whether you choose beef, lamb, or poultry. 

And the best part is that they don't require a lot of special equipment, skill, or hands-on time in the kitchen -- stews yield a hearty, delicious meal that looks like you worked harder than you did.

The technique for stewing is similar to braising, the main difference being that when you prepare a stew, the meat, fish, or poultry is cut into 1- to 3-inch pieces, and the liquid entirely covers what's in the pot, while most braised meats are cooked in larger pieces and only partially submerged. The best cuts for stewing come from the harder-worked muscle groups -- the leg, shoulder, breast, and neck areas. Also, these cuts have more collagen than tender cuts, which keeps them moist and yields more flavorful results.

Try this delicious Chicken Curry dish, adapted from "Martha Stewart's Cooking School" -- once you master this great technique, you'll be able to make a variety of curries using fish, shrimp, beef, lamb, goat, or vegetables.

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