Stewing Techniques

Stewing refers to meat, fish or poultry that has been gently and slowly cooked in a covered pot with plenty of liquid, using together with vegetables. This method is particularly suitable for tougher cuts of meat such as shin, flank, scrag and chuck, as the marbling of fat and gelatinous connective tissue produces a moist, juicy stew, whereas lean, tender meat may easily become dry.

Brown Stews

Most stews require preliminary frying to sear and brown the meat. This gives the resulting stew a richer flavour and also adds colour. The browned sediment and dried-on juices that stick to the pan after frying are used to make the sauce. Onions, shallots, carrots or mushrooms are also often included in the preliminary frying.

When browning meat for this type of stew, it is important to ensure that the meat is given a good even colour on all sides. Try to cook only a few pieces at a time, so that the temperature is kept hot enough to brown the meat effectively. Deglaze the pan between each batch of meat in order to:

  • prevent the stuck sediment in the pan from burning
  • clean the pan ready for the next batch of meat
  • allow the flavour of that sediment to be incorporated into the sauce

Deglaze: To loosen and liquefy fat, sediment and browned juices stuck at the bottom of a frying pan or saucepan by adding liquid (usually stock, water or wine) and stirring while boiling.

White Stews

White stews (also known as blanquettes or fricassées) are made without preliminary browning and are less rich and fatty than brown ones. They are usually made with chicken, lamb or veal that is blanched, or lightly seared without browning, and cooked in stock.

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