A simple stew is a combination of a liquid and two other ingredients. If your food pantry is low on items you can make up your own stew that will be delicious and filling. Stews can be hearty with any type of meat in them or they can be vegetarian.
Stewing can make an economical piece of meat very tender and succulent. It is a way to take left-overs and repurpose them into a one pot meal. If you haven’t tried making your own stew, experiment and you will likely write down what you did so you can repeat the meal. First, decide if you want to use meat and what type of meat or if you want it to be vegetarian. If you are going to start out with meat you can use water as the liquid in the dish after the meat is seared to get gravy like consistency. If you are making a vegetarian meal you may want to consider using a broth or tomatoes that have been pureed. Then just add whatever ingredients you and your family love.
The main difference between a stew and soup is the consistency of the liquid. Stews have a heavier consistency so some flour or corn starch is usually added. Just add 3 tablespoons of flour or corn starch to a cup of water in a jar with a lid. Shake until flour is dissolved and then add to liquid in the stew. Keep stirring until the flour mixture has dissolved.
Herbs and spices are extremely important in a stew because this is what gives the one pot meal flavor. So add these liberally and keep tasting until you are satisfied with the flavor. The longer you cook the stew the better it will taste, hence, long and slow cooking in important. I like to start mine in the morning and let it slowly cook all day. This is a great way to free up your time during the day and still have a healthy, delicious dinner. Stews can be made on top of the stove, in a slow cooker, or started on top of the stove and then moved into the oven.
There are many regional stews, such as Irish Stew, Italian Stew, New England Boiled Dinner, Goulash, and French Stew. If you are having a large crowd over the holidays, stews are loved by all and they give the cook time to visit with the guest. Another hidden secret of stews is that children don’t realize they are eating vegetables. The vegetables usually take on the flavor of the liquid.
So go to your pantry and look for what you think might make a good combination in a one pot meal. I think a good way to start any stew is by sautéing some onions in olive oil. After that, be creative and keep tasting after every ingredient that is added.