Thre's something comforting about a warm and hearty stew on a cold winter's day. A well-made stew is deceptively simple, but there are some basics that will help guarantee success.
Starting with strong foundations and understanding the right meat and vegetable pairings is key. Learn the basics and you can get creative in the kitchen yet make the perfect dish each time.
Let’s explore the art of crafting the perfect winter stew.
Every great stew begins with a solid foundation, and in this case, that means quality organic meat, an array of organic vegetables, and a flavourful stock.
The choice of meat can significantly impact the stew's taste and texture. Cuts that are rich in marbling and collagen are excellent for stew as the meat becomes tender during the long, slow cook.
Avoid the leanest cuts of meat as they don’t have enough fat or soft, connective tissue that contributes to the rich texture of the perfect stew. There is a reason that stew has a long history of creating a substantial dish from cheaper cuts of meat that become meltingly soft from slow cooking.
Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, venison, and game meats like partridge, rabbit or pheasant can all create delightful stews, each with a unique flavour profile.
Vegetables are the stew's supporting actors, adding texture and depth. Classic choices include carrots, potatoes, onions, and celery, but don't hesitate to experiment with seasonal vegetables like parsnips, turnips, or butternut squash. These can introduce variety and earthy flavours to your stew.
A flavourful stock is the base of your stew, infusing it with depth and richness. You can use chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, depending on the meat you've chosen. Homemade stocks made from organic bones, such as our The Organic Butchery Stock Bones are fantastic, but high-quality shop-bought ones can also work wonders.
1. Beef Stew:
Carrots, potatoes, onions, and mushrooms complement the rich, beefy flavour with their earthy notes and robust textures.
The deep richness of red wine holds up against the beef's savoury notes. Add a splash of red wine to your stew, or create a red wine reduction sauce with a touch of thyme and garlic.
Need inspiration? Try our Beef Stew with Dumplings recipe
2. Lamb Stew:
Try pairing lamb with root vegetables like parsnips and turnips. The sweetness of carrots and a burst of freshness from green peas can balance the lamb's savoury richness. Fresh rosemary and garlic infuse a touch of elegance.
The bright, refreshing taste of mint is the perfect accompaniment to lamb's rich flavour. Drizzle mint sauce over your lamb stew or serve it on the side.
Need inspiration? Try our Lamb Neck Fillets Stew recipe
3. Pork Stew:
Potatoes, cabbage, and apples work wonders with pork. Cabbage adds a layer of complexity, while apples bring a hint of sweetness that melds beautifully with the pork's savoury profile.
The natural sweetness of cider enhances the pork's flavour and pairs wonderfully with apples. Add cider to your stock with a pinch of caraway seeds for interest.
4. Chicken Stew:
For a lighter stew, pair chicken with leeks, celery, and carrots or for a heartier plate, try root vegetables like parsnips and swede.
Chicken suits a creamy sauce. Try a pairing of white wine and cream or creme fraiche for richness.
Need inspiration? Try our Creamy Chicken, Leek & Kale Cassoulet recipe
5. Venison Stew:
Mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and juniper berries complement venison's bold and gamey character. Sweet potatoes add sweetness and depth, while mushrooms create a rich broth. Juniper berries infuse a unique earthiness.
The sweet and tart notes of red currant sauce harmonise with the gamey flavours of venison and adds a layer of complexity to your stew.
6. Pheasant Stew:
Pheasant partners well with seasonal, wild produce like chestnuts and mushrooms for a hearty stew flavoured with bay and sage. Or pair with apples for a sweeter finish.
A deep red wine will bring these woodland flavours together for an evocative feast.
Need inspiration: Try our Pheasant and Spiced Apple Stew recipe
By understanding the right pairings and choosing the best quality organic meat and vegetables, you're well on your way to crafting the perfect winter stew.
Remember to season with herbs and spices that suit your chosen meat and taste preferences. The only thing limiting you is your creativity and imagination, so experiment and create your own unique stew recipes.