From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Friday, October 25, 2013

Hot, savory stew

I don't make stew very often, usually settling for soup in one form or another.  But sometimes I crave the deep savory flavors and texture of thick stew.

I don't eat beef, but instead I usually make pork or chicken stew.  (Wish I had a freezer full of venison for this, but I'm not allowed to shoot the d^mn things as they devastate my gardens!)

Anyway, whenever I can get pork blade cuts on sale, I get some for the freezer, then bring them out for this kind of occasion.

First off I heat up my deep Dutch oven then sear the meat in the barest spritz of olive oil.  When browned (do not crowd - do pieces in turn), I return all meat to the pot, reduce heat (low), toss in several chopped onions and fresh garlic, then pop on the lid and let everything braise for 2-3 hours.  (I do not add more than a couple of tablespoons of water - the lid keeps all moisture in - the onions will 'melt' and  soon the meat will flake right off the bones.)

At that point I remove the meat leaving about 1/2 - 3/4" of savory juice in the pot which I bring to near boiling. (If not, add just a bit of stock to get that much liquid.)  From here on in stew ingredients are like soup -- what have I got?  First up, chunked potatoes (4#) and carrots (1#).  These are tossed into the hot liquid and stirred to coat.  I do this for about a minute then turn heat back to low, and cover the pot.  This way the potatoes and carrots aren't boiled, but braised giving them a more roasted taste/texture than steamed.  They also absorb all the meat juices.

When the root vegs are almost soft and have added back the meat (chopped), I see what else I have on hand.  Frozen corn and peas are great for texture and color.  And now I need liquid for gravy so pour in a quart of chicken stock.  I add herbs and spices to taste, give everything a good stir, replace the lid and let it simmer until the carrots are tender but still taste like carrots.

Later I jarred up 4 quarts of stew and set them out on the deck (only 38F!) to cool before going into the 'fridge overnight.

When I serve this I'll probably fold in fresh kale from the garden and bake up some whole-grain spelt biscuits.

Stew takes longer to make than soup, but y'know, sometimes it's just worth the extra effort.  I've often thought about doing this in a crock pot, but don't think I could sear the meat as well as in a hot Dutch oven.  How about you?  What kind of winter stews are YOU fond of?

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  1. That stew looks very nice! I bet it tasted lovely, too!

    1. Hello Sarina. :-D Yes, it IS tasty. I whipped up a batch of savory whole-grain spelt pancakes instead of biscuits and am really enjoying them together.

  2. It looks very good! I just made a pot of Beef/bean soup while we took the day off to take a little road trip down south. It was nicely finished when we came back.

    I do have a very good crock pot beef stew that I browning required.

    It seems that all I have been thinking of with the cold weather is soups and stews.

    Chicken 'n dumplings comes next I think.

    1. Do you raise meat chickens as well as your layers? What kind of crock pot do you use? Yep, this kind of weather just begs for something hot and savory in a big bowl. Looking forward to your chic/dumpling post. :-D