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Jun 2, 2009 10:58 AM

Stew on this

We all, I am sure, know how to make stew. Mirepoix coarsely cut, potatoes diced, beef or chicken diced 1" dredged and browned, homemade stock, garlic and bay leaf, some peas in at the end. Cook low and slow.
Makes a damned good tasting stew, but is same old, same old.
What is your secret ingredient, spice or herb that brings it up to something different/interesting?
I won't tell anyone. It will be just between us.

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  1. A friend recently gave me her old family recipe for PA Dutch chicken-corn soup. It called for a pinch or two of saffron threads. I loved the soup, and have now been using it in chicken stew (potatoes, carrots, celery, pearl onions ). I love saffron, and not for the floral note many posters here on CH have mentioned, but for its medicinal taste (to me anyway). It can be very strong, so I back off for company but use a heavier hand for us.

    1. I add a bouquet garni (rosemary, parsley, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, maybe sage) and some red wine to the liquid. Sometimes I fry bacon first, reserve the bacon, brown the meat in the bacon grease, then chop up the bacon and add at the last minute. Sometimes I peel pearl onions and brown them in butter, then simmer them in stock separately, then throw them in at the end.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Niki in Dayton

        Bacon's a great base - then add tomato paste, red wine, port, balsamic.

        1. re: katecm

          Ah, yes....forgot to mention I use tomato paste and red wine.The wine I use to deglaze after browning.

          1. re: margshep

            Throw in that port and balsamic, then, and sweeten it up. Also, serve it with either a gremolata or a lemon and horseradish creme fraiche. It breathes new life into it and adds a lot of freshness.

            1. re: katecm

              Definitely wine and tomato paste. Balsamic is good too, although I often use cider vinegar. Also worcestorshire sauce and fish sauce. I always add a little fish sauce to beef stews, and sometimes it replaces the salt altogether.

              Also, experiment with different roots. I started using celery root instead of potatoes when I found them at my farmer's market one year. Yum!

      2. Try making a pork stew....Omit the Peas and Carrots...Include Sweet Potato, and Turnip Roots....Careful not to over cook....

        Then there is Lamb..........

        1. Venison, onion, tomato and tamarind are great together!

          1. I make beef stew the way my mom did. She always added a generous few shakes of worcestshire to the braising liquid.