Back to the Kitchen: For the love and comfort of stews

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gwen-upper110x110BY GWEN KENNEALLY

After a winter with mostly days of 80 degrees, I am happy that we finally have some real winter weather! It can be challenging to decide if you want a winter roast or a BBQ. When the weather is a bit cooler, it is the perfect time for stews. No matter what the temperature, the ease of putting everything in a pot and letting the ingredients cook all day is simple with a wonderful outcome.

My mom’s beef stew is hearty and rich and the perfect comfort food. The lentil stew is lighter, but so bold and flavorful it makes a wonderful meal. My Noni’s Chicken Cacciatore brings back childhood memories of begging her not to add the peas, so I took them out of my recipe, but add them back, much to the distaste of my daughter! No matter what you are craving, cozy up with your family and enjoy all the old and new flavors.

Lentil Stew

Beef Stew

Beef Stew

This is a easy “dump” everything into a pot stew! I have brought this stew to many events. It is a great traveling dish and a great addition to a buffet especially when you need a vegetarian dish.

1/2-cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic

1 cup chopped onion

1-cup carrots

1-cup broccoli

1-cup kale

1-cup spinach

2 cups little green lentils

4 cups vegetable stock

6 cups marinara sauce

1/2 cup red wine

Salt and pepper to taste

2-tablespoons basil, thyme

In a large soup pot heat oil and sauté over medium heat onions and garlic. Add lentils, carrots, broccoli, kale and spinach. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook over low heat for about one hour. Feeds 6-8

Chicken and Dumpling Stew

3-4 pound whole chicken

4 cups water

3 cups chicken stock

2 carrots

roughly chopped 1 large onion, cut into quarters

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 1 stalk of celery roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-cup milk

1-teaspoon ground pepper


2 cups flour

1/2-teaspoon baking soda

1/2-teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

3/4-cup buttermilk

Place the chicken in a Dutch oven, and add the water, stock, carrot, onion, celery and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat. Simmer for about one hour, or until tender and chicken is done. Remove chicken and allow it to cool enough to handle. Remove the carrot, onion and celery pieces from the stock and discard. Reserve the stock. Bone the chicken, discarding all skin and bones, and cut meat into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Combine the flour, baking soda and 1/2-teaspoon salt; cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture is consistency of coarse meal. Add the buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times. Pat the dough down to a 1/4-inch thickness, and pinch off 1-1/2-inch pieces.)  Bring the chicken broth to a boil, and stir in the milk and pepper.Drop dumplings, one or two at a time, into the boiling broth and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir from time to time to make sure dumplings do not stick together. Cook dumplings 8 to 10 minutes. Add the boned chicken to the mixture and simmer until heated through. Remove from heat. Serves 6.

Mom’s Beef Stew

One of the best things my mama made. I have such wonderful childhood memories of walking by the stew pot and grabbing a piece of meat. This is really traditional and wonderful.

1/4-cup canola oil

3 pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces

6 large garlic cloves, minced

1 large onion, chopped

8 cups beef stock 2 bay leaves

5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 9 cups)

2 cups celery

3 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots

Flour (as needed)

Kitchen bouquet (as needed)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Dredge Beef in flour and add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, onions and sauté 5 minutes longer. Add beef stock and bay leaves. Add celery, carrots and potatoes Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer about1 hour until everything is tender, not soft and soggy. Add some kitchen bouquet for color (nice and dark brown) and if gravy is not thick enough make a roe. (In a coffee mug add one tablespoon flour and stir in liquid from the stew and blend until smooth. Pour into the stew and give it a few minutes to thicken. Repeat as needed until the gravy is nice and thick.) Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with sourdough bread and a salad. This served five hungry children with leftovers!

Irish Beef and Guinness Stew

1/4-cup olive oil

1 1/4 pounds well marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces

6 large garlic cloves, minced

6 cups beef stock

2 cups Guinness beer

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cup)

1 large onion, chopped 2 cups

1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots

Salt and Pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Lightly salt the beef pieces. Working in batches if necessary, add the beef (do not crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and not brown) and cook, without stirring, until nicely browned on one side, then use tongs to turn the pieces over. Continue to cook until all sides are browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, Guinness, tomato paste, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. While the meat and stock are simmering, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until the beef stew in step one has simmered for one hour. Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. Transfer stew to serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Serves 6

Noni’s Chicken Cacciatore Or Italian Stew

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 whole roasting chicken, cut in quarters

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 large onion, sliced

12 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered

4 cloves garlic, sliced

3 springs rosemary

3 sprigs oregano

3 sprigs thyme

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 cups tomato sauce

1/2-cup water

1-cup peas (if desired)

2 red bell peppers, sliced

2 green bell peppers, sliced

Season the chicken generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Place a heavy Dutch oven, over medium-high heat; add the olive oil and brown the chicken pieces well on all sides. Remove the chicken, and add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onions soften. Add the rosemary, oregano, thyme, pepper flakes, tomato sauce, and water. (Peas here if using!) Stir to combine. Place the chicken pieces, and any juices, over the sauce, and top with the sliced peppers. Cover with the lid and bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Before serving, taste sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Serves 6 over pasta or polenta.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • Lisa H.

    Gwen, I hope you get this message. It’s a little late after the article first ran, do you think these stews can be made in a slow cooker? I notice when I try and make stews with the slow cooker, the meat always falls apart, maybe the time setting I use is too long?

    I love your recipes and enjoy reading your column. Thanks.

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