How to Stew: A Primer on This Essential Cooking Technique
Learn how to stew a delicious cut of beef and so much more here.
Stew: Is it a noun or a verb? Technically, it's both. Everyone knows what stew is. The very mention of the word evokes a steamy, simmering pot full of something rich, savory, and comforting. But do you know what makes a stew a stew?
At its most basic, "to stew" is simply to cook something slowly in liquid. And if you've spent any amount of time reading cookbooks, you will notice that this definition sounds awfully similar to braising. So, what's the difference between stewing and braising? It all comes down to the amount of liquid you use. To braise, you want less liquid: enough to add plenty of moisture but not enough to cover the ingredients all the way. To stew, on the other hand, is to submerge your ingredients so that the liquid becomes part of the finished dish.
If you're making a stew with meat, choose cuts that are high in fat and collagen, which will become tender and flavorful during a slow simmer. Think chicken thighs and legs, not breasts; pork butt and ribs, not chops; beef chuck and brisket, not tenderloin; and lamb shanks and neck, not leg. Bonus: The stewing cuts are usually more affordable.
Stews are some of the most versatile recipes you can keep in your repertoire, too. You can stew on the stove top, in a slow cooker, or an electric pressure cooker. Whatever method you feel like using, we've got a recipe for that!
You probably have a favorite kind of stew, but remember that stew is not just a single dish; it's a whole way of cooking, and every cuisine has its own classic stew recipes. During the chilly months, you can look forward taking a trip around the world without leaving home, simply by sampling some new stew recipes. Visit American favorites like beef stew, chicken and dumplings, and gumbo. Take a trip to France to sample Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq au Vin, and bouillabaisse, then head to Italy for Chicken Cacciatore. Next, go north and learn all about Irish stew, or travel east for goulash and paprikash. Go further east with Thai red, green, or Massaman curry; Indian dal and butter chicken. You can also explore North Africa via tagines. Ready to put some more stamps on your stew pot's passport? We have so many delicious stew recipes to help you experience a wide range of global cuisine.