Thursday, January 5, 2017

Winter Stews

One of the easiest and best dishes to make during a snowy day is a good stew. It can be a simple or fancy , depending on your tastes. One thing to remember - make it rib-sticking. A hearty meal is needed to help in shoveling all that white stuff along with managing a sled or snowball fight.

Even the most novice of home chefs can whip up a stew. Stick to the most basic of recipes. Most beginners try a beef one before they move on to the more complex ones. It's two pounds of stew meat, cut into chunks along with beef bouillon and simple vegetables such as carrots and potatoes. Celery stalks and chopped onion are added to the mix to give it more flavor along with rosemary and dried parsley. Cornstarch is a must. Two tablespoons of it binds the stew together and gives it a rich thick gravy. Chicken stew is another easy and basic recipe. It's really the same as the beef save for the addition of mushrooms and poultry seasoning. Dumplings are always a treat and they're easy to make.They just cook right on top of the stew. You could also use those frozen biscuits too. Pork isn't
necessarily thought of as a stew meat yet it can be the star of a particularly tasty one. Surprisingly it needs beef bouillon as a  base  and needs stronger tasting veggies such as bell peppers and corn to compete with the meat's unique taste. Lamb stew is the all time classic.It is usually made with tomatoes, Thyme and bay leave along with carrots and potatoes give it that classic taste . Serve with a crusty bread  and a good Irish beer..

Once the basic recipe has been tackled you can move onto the more complex stews. One is the time-honored beef bourguignon. This is a rich melange of  beef, tomato paste,  red wine and bacon.Onions give it that sweet flavor as garlic zips it up. Unlike the simpler stews, this one needs butter , usually four to five tablespoons for richness. A hot crusty loaf  French bread is always served with it to sop up the gravy along with a good red wine. The French also give us cassoulet, a delicious blend of tasty duck meat, salt pork or sausage, and cannellini beans. A confit or duck fat is added too. Thyme, bay leaf and garlic accentuate the variety of meats' flavors. Another dish that's sort of stew like and still fancy is beef daube. This is a boozy mix of  Cognac, bacon and cubed beef roast with the fat and sinews removed. Garlic, shallots and a bouquet garni, a blend of dried thyme, rosemary, parsley and celery leaves.Veggies are carrots and parsnips which give the stew more flavor. Another almost stew again belongs to the French. It's coq 'au vin, chicken pieces heightened  again by Cognac and lardons along celery and pearl onions, the last giving it some sweetness.

Stews are the best dish to eat on a winter's day. Whether simple or complex one, they are rib sticking and hearty, perfecting for thawing out. Make one and enjoy their comforting flavor and cozy warmth,

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