Back to the Kitchen: The Cozy Comfort of the Perfect Stew

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We just enjoyed bit of rain and I’m now hearing that the temperatures will go up.I am not really complaining, but it can be challenging to decide if you want a winter roast or a BBQ. When the weather is a bit cooler, it is a wonderful time for stews and chilis. No matter what the temperature, there’s great ease when ingredients can be placed  in a pot and cooked all day.

My mom’s beef stew is hearty and rich and the perfect comfort food. The lentil stew and veggie chili, hominy stews and chicken and white bean are lighter and fresher, but so bold and flavorful they make wonderful meals. Red beans and rice are so delicious and if you are feeling like cutting back a bit you can eliminate the ham and replace the andouille sausages for turkey sausages. No matter what you are craving cozy up with your family and enjoy all the old and new flavors.


Beef Stew

Mom’s Beef Stew

One of the best things my mama made. I have such 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 5 hungry children with leftovers!

Lentil 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 opinion

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.

Hominy Stew

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic

4 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 – 15 ounce can white hominy, drained

1 – 15 ounce can red beans, drained

1 – 15 ounce tomatoes, undrained

1 – 15 stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped

1/4 sour cream

1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese

4 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Stir in chili powder and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Spoon 1 1/4 cups chili into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 1-tablespoon sour cream, 1-tablespoon cheese, and 1-teaspoon cilantro.

Chicken and White Bean Stew

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound diced, cooked chicken meat

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups chicken stock

1 -15 ounce can tomatillos, drained and chopped

1 -15 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 -7 ounce can diced green chilies

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 – 15 ounce can white beans

Corn kernels from 2 ears fresh corn or one 15 ounce can

Salt to taste

Ground black pepper to taste

1 lime, sliced

Heat oil, and cook onion and garlic until soft. Stir in broth, tomatillos, tomatoes, chilies, and spices. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes. Add corn, chicken, and beans; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with any one of these toppings: limes, cilantro, fat-free grated cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream, and baked tortilla chips.

Vegetable Chili

This is a basic roadmap. You can add or delete any veggies. So warm and cozy, like a hearty chili should be.

1/2 cup olive oil

4 small red onions, roughly chopped

8 cloves of garlic

2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped

2 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped

6 carrots cut lengthwise then sliced

3 bunches broccoli, roughly chopped

3 zucchini cut lengthwise then sliced

3 yellow squash, cut lengthwise then sliced

2 cans (35 ounces) Italian style stewed tomatoes

3 pounds fresh ripe Plum tomatoes cut in 1- inch cubes

4-6 tablespoons chili powder (to taste)

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons Italian spices

(Or any combo of basil, oregano, sage, etc.)

2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper

1-teaspoon salt

2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained

2 cups tomato sauce

Heat olive oil in really large pot. Add onion, garlic, peppers, carrots and broccoli. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add all tomatoes and beans. Sauté for 5 more minutes. Add all spices and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the marinara sauce and 1 cup of water. Cook covered, stirring frequently for 1 hour. Serve with lots of shredded cheddar cheese chopped scallions and homemade corn bread.

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound red beans

4 tablespoons oil

2 medium onions chopped fine

1 green bell pepper

2-teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon black pepper

1/2-teaspoon red pepper

1/2-teaspoon white pepper

2 cups chopped scallions

1 cup chopped parsley

2 smoked ham hocks (or salt pork)

2 pounds andouille sausages

3 garlic cloves

1-teaspoon sugar

Mahatma Brand Rice

3 cups cooked rice


3 bay leaves

Soak beans over night, and then drain saving the water. In a big pot over medium heat sauté’ onion, bell pepper, garlic and sausages. Then add beans, 1-cup scallions, and all seasonings and cover plus one inch with reserved bean water. Add ham hocks and bring to a hard boil. Lower to medium heat. Stir occasionally for 2 hours. (Add water if drying out). Take out 3 cups of beans and mash them up and put back into the pot. Garnish with scallions and parsley and serve over rice.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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