STEWS – BEGIN WITH BASIC COOKING!

nina | January 3rd, 2013 - 9:00 am

When the pot runs low, it’s refilled with bits of meat and vegetables that simmer to create something hot, nourishing and potentially tasty. As much as we admire what this pot symbolizes, it’s the fuss-free cooking style that really gets us thinking. Throwing everything into a pot, adding water and letting it stew is one of the most basic ways to cook, and we don’t do it often enough.We tend to layer the flavors. Brown the meat, sauté the onions and bloom the spices. Then we add homemade stock and let it reduce. Not difficult, but it does chain you to the stove. At the end, you’re rewarded with a complex and rich-tasting dinner. After all, you’d better be.

Oh, but there is a better way. . .The only rules are to use good, fresh ingredients because you’re not doing much to them, to stir in enough salt and to keep the heat low and constant. You want a mellow simmer, not a full boil.

One of the best recipes for hands-off stew is Scotch broth, a dense mix of meat (usually lamb, sometimes beef), barley and root vegetables. Because the technique is so basic, the variations are vast. Use whatever vegetables you like, adding the leafy ones (kale, cabbage, spinach, chard) at the end of cooking and the sturdy ones (potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabaga, parsnip, carrots) and grains (barley, wheat berries, farro) at the beginning with the meat.

Home-made stew is the perfect meal on these cold January evenings.  Lots of time for converstation when you serve it –  Enjoy!

Source:  nytimes.com; 12.28.2012

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