Warm cold winter nights with hearty stew

Served piping hot, this hot dish incorporates the major food groups into a delicious one-pot meal

Winter is still here, as last week’s snowstorm reminded us, and on days when the weather is cold, stew is an ideal meal. The aroma of the hearty dish fills the house, tempting the senses and piquing hunger.

A piping hot bowl of simmered meats, seafood, hearty vegetables and herbs make stew perfect for lunch or dinner. Add a loaf of crusty bread or a plate of fresh pasta or rice and you have a filling meal fit for family and friends.

Stews are fun to make. Fresh ingredients are chopped into bite-sized pieces, browned and added to rich, hearty broths, and then simmered for hours to create delicious meals.

The distinctions between stew, soup and casserole are subtle and not always easy to judge.

The ingredients of a stew are typically cut into larger pieces than those in a soup, and they retain more of their individual flavors. A stew is thicker than a soup and has more sauce than a casserole. A stew can be cooked on the stove or in the oven or slow cooker, while casseroles are almost always cooked in the oven and soups on the stovetop.

Stewing takes the toughest cuts of meat and makes them tender and juicy by using a slow, moist-heat method of cooking. Cuts of meat with marbling and gelatinous connective tissue make moist, juicy stews, while lean meats can become dry.

Stews may be thickened by reduction, but more commonly this is done with flour. Pieces of meat are coated with flour before searing or a roux is used. Other thickeners, such as cornstarch or arrowroot, may also be used.

Unlike many meals, stews get better over time, so don’t feel bad if you have leftovers. The flavor improves as the stew has time to meld.

Following are a few recipes from food52.com and allrecipes.com


Lentil and Sausage Stew

2 cups green or brown lentils

salt, to taste

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided

4 sausages

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 sticks of celery, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon flour

One 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes

Cheese, grated

Bring the lentils to a boil on medium heat in six cups of water. Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of salt into the water with the lentils. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft all the way through. Once they are soft, turn off the heat and drain any excess water. Taste and add more salt if needed.

While the lentils cook, melt one tablespoon of the butter in another large pot on medium heat. Cook the sausages, flipping to brown on all sides until cooked through.

Once the sausages are cooked, remove them from the pot onto a side plate.

Add the onion, carrots, celery, and green pepper and cook for about five minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle a bit of salt over everything, about 1/2 teaspoon or so to start. Once the vegetables are softened and the onion is translucent, add the garlic and stir, cooking for another two minutes. Sprinkle the flour over everything and stir until it disappears into the vegetables and oil.

Add the chopped tomatoes and the cooked lentils to the pot and stir to combine. Let it cook for about five minutes, until some of the water from the tomatoes has cooked off and it’s a little thicker.

Slice the sausage into bite-sized pieces and add them back into the pot. Stir. Taste and add salt if needed.

Set the oven to 375 degrees. Springkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until all the cheese is melted.

Crockpot Beef Stew

1 pound beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 tablespoon flour, for coating beef

1 tablespoon oil, for searing beef

3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 stick celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 medium russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

12 pearl onions, peeled

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup cremini mushrooms, halved

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, plus more to taste

2 cups beef broth

2 cups cooked white rice, for serving

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, for garnish

Season beef generously with one tablespoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, then coat in flour. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high and sear beef on all sides, about seven minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.

Add carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, garlic, and mushrooms to slow cooker. Season with remaining salt and pepper, and add the Worcestershire sauce. Add broth and stir together gently.

Cook on low for eight hours, or until potatoes and beef are tender. Adjust seasonings and gravy consistency as desired. Serve over rice and garnish with parsley.

Chicken, Chard, and Cranberry Bean Stew

1 pound dried cranberry beans

5 cups water, plus more for soaking the beans

1-1/2 tablespoons salt, plus more to taste

3/4 pound red chard,divided

1 tablespoon oil

1 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 cinnamon sticks

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes,

1 small preserved lemon, rinsed and minced

Place the beans in a large bowl, and pour enough water over them to cover by at least two inches. Add the salt and stir until dissolved. Let the beans soak for at least eight hours and up to 24 hours. Once the beans have soaked, drain and rinse them thoroughly, and set aside.

Cut the chard leaves away from the stems, then roughly chop the leaves and thinly slice the stems. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken lightly on both sides with salt and pepper, then add to the pot and brown thoroughly on both sides, about three minutes on each side. Transfer the partially cooked chicken to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat under the pot to medium. Add onions and chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 30 seconds to one minute, or until fragrant. Add five cups water, cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, paprika, and chili flakes, and stir to combine. Add beans, reserved chicken pieces, and any juices that have accumulated on the chicken plate.

Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to keep the liquid at a steady simmer. Partially cover with a lid and simmer for one to one and a half hours, or until the beans are tender but still slightly firm and the chicken is almost falling off the bone. Remove the chicken from the pot, transfer to a plate, and set it aside.

Add the chard leaves and preserved lemon to the pot, and stir until the chard wilts. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the liquid has thickened and the chard and beans are tender. If the stew seems to be getting dry before the beans are done, add a splash of water. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks and bay leaf.

Pull or cut the chicken meat into bite-sized pieces; discard bones and skin. Return the chicken meat to the pot, along with any juices that accumulated on the plate. Stir until the meat is heated through. Taste and adjust the salt as needed

Ladle the stew into bowls, and serve warm with bread or couscous.

Vegan Slow-Cooker Tomatillo Stew

2 medium jalapeños (halved and seeded for less heat, if you prefer)

8 ounces canned diced green chiles

1/2 pound (about 5 medium) tomatillos, husked and washed, quartered

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided

2 tablespoons oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Kosher salt

15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed well

15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed well

Crushed corn chips, freshly chopped cilantro, lime wedges for serving.

Combine jalapeños, green chiles, tomatillos, and cilantro with 1/2 cup vegetable broth in a blender and puree until smooth. Scrape mixture into the bowl of a slow cooker.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic until soft, about five minutes, then add cumin and season with salt. Scrape mixture into the bowl of your slow cooker. Stir in remaining broth and beans. Season with more salt. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on high for three to four hours, or on low for five to six hours.

Take the lid off the slow cooker and use a potato masher to mostly crush the beans and thicken the stew. Stir and cook on high for another 15 minutes.

Serve topped with crushed chips, cilantro, lime wedges.

Chicken Stew With Potatoes, Carrots & Celery

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Kosher salt

1 sprig rosemary

1 sprig thyme

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

32 ounces low-sodium chicken stock

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Chopped parsley, for garnish

In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Sear the chicken for about three minutes on each side, until browned. Transfer to a cutting board and cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

In the same pot over medium heat, cook the onion and garlic, stirring, for about three minutes, until translucent and softened; season with salt. Add the rosemary and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, for about two minutes, until fragrant. Add the carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for about eight minutes, until translucent.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about three minutes, until all of the vegetables are coated and the raw taste has cooked off. Slowly pour in the stock, stirring to break up any lumps of flour.

Add the chicken, potatoes, and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the chicken and potatoes are fully cooked and the liquid has slightly thickened. Taste and adjust the seasonings; discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Garnish with the parsley.


Best-Ever Beef Stew

1 tablespoon oil

2 pounds beef chuck stew meat, cubed into 1inch pieces

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

2 stalks celery, chopped

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup tomato paste

6 cup low-sodium beef broth

1 cup red wine

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

1 pound baby potatoes, halved

1 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

In a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add beef and cook until seared on all sides, 10 minutes, working in batches if necessary. Transfer beef to a plate.

In the same pot, cook onion, carrots, and celery until soft, five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook until garlic is fragrant and tomato paste has darkened, two minutes.

Add beef back to dutch oven then add broth, wine, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and bay leaves.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer until beef is tender about 30 to 45 minutes.

Add potatoes and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, 15 minutes.

Remove bay leaves. Stir in peas and cook until warmed through, two minutes. Season stew to taste with salt and pepper, then ladle into serving bowls and garish with parsley.

Green Chili Pork Stew

7 tablespoons oil, divided, plus more as needed

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 medium poblano peppers, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

4 (4-oz.) cans chopped mild green chiles

1/2 pound tomatillos, husked and quartered

5 cups chicken stock

Fresh lime wedges, cilantro, sour cream, and tortilla chips for serving

Heat one tablespoon oil over medium high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Season pork on all sides with salt and pepper. Working in three batches, add pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until mostly browned, about six minutes per batch. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining pork, adding one tablespoon of oil per batch.

Add remaining four tablespoons oil to the pot. Add onion, poblanos, jalapeño, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until veggies are soft and translucent, five to seven minutes. Add flour, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, one minute. Stir in canned chilies, tomatillos and chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Return pork to pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until pork is very tender, about one hour.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with lime wedges, cilantro, sour cream and tortilla chips if desired.



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