My Easy Stew Recipe Will Save Your Life!

1.20.14: Featured over at prudentmummy.com!

It’s the day before The Day Before.

I want you to plan ahead. After all, didn’t you just overindulge in food mere weeks ago? Those leftovers, geez, after a few days you could not look at any of those sides without hating life.

Von’s here to help.

Back in November, I shared about my very own excursion into the Land of Plenty, and now I offer the follow-up to that. When I broke down the turkey, I let my mind, not my stomach, decide what went on the serving plate and what went into the freezer. Yes, I deliberately stored a few choice cuts. This is what you should do too, so that you a) save yourself from losing appreciation for holiday food and b) prepare a meal a few weeks later that seems time consuming but actually super easy to whip up.

Von's Stew! Ayy que lindo!
Von’s Stew! Ayy que lindo!

Here’s what you’re gonna need to make Von’s Stew:

[Serves 6-8 normal sized people]

3 lbs. Holiday protein

4 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil

2 large bay leaves

2 ½ tsp. Celery salt

7 whole peppercorns

1 ½ tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Ground mustard

1 tsp. Chili powder

½ tsp. Ground cayenne red pepper (omit if you can’t handle heat)

2 tsp. fresh chopped sage

2 small shallots, diced

1 small head of garlic, diced

1 ½ medium yellow onion, diced

1 large tomato, stem removed

1 large carrot, peeled, diced

1 large carrot, peeled, chopped

1 large white potato, peeled, chopped

3 lbs. Low sodium, low fat chicken or turkey broth for poultry, beef broth for venison

1 lb. Broth made from the remains of the last meal*

6-7 sprigs of fresh cilantro (for the *)

Use the shallots, yellow onions, garlic, and diced carrots for your base. But what about the celery, Von? Fuck celery! I hate celery! But, technically yes, it’s part of the base. I compensate by using celery salt. Please, please, please, never put celery in anything you serve me to eat, unless you want me to hate you for life. Celery, such an unnecessary “food”.

Rant over.

Okay, over medium heat, pour in the olive oil, then introduce the things I said in the last paragraph, let cook until clear, stirring every so often to keep from burning. We don’t want caramelized, just clear. Once everything’s looking nice and sheer, you introduce the spices: bay leaves, celery salt, peppercorns, cumin, ground mustard, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Flip those in with the base veggies and let sizzle for 3-4 minutes. Your kitchen will smell amazing.

After the 3-4 minutes, pour in the broth made from the remains of the last meal (follow the asterisk to after the recipe on how to prepare this) and the 32 oz./3 pounds of ready-to-go broth. A good stock should be allowed to bloom and simmer before all the heavy stuff gets introduced. Take this moment to taste the combination of spice to broth, and adjust accordingly, because what it tastes like here is going to get slightly watered down with the introduction of the protein and rest of veggie. This is why also you must resist the urge to add any more liquid than what already exists. Remember, your remaining veggies have water to release, and your prior-cooked meat has fats and liquid in it too. Mixy mixy, cover, and set this to medium-low for two hours. 

This is my favorite part. After the stock has prepped for two hours, introduce the potato, sage, and carrot to the pot. Push them off to the side to leave space in the middle. You’re gonna depth charge the tomato. The whole shabang, just lay it in the center. Leave the heat where it’s at, cover, and let it simmer another two hours.

Depth Charge
Depth Charge

Here’s an interrupt in the action. If you don’t like the skin of the tomato, after an hour, open the pot and use a ladle to lift out the tomato (that rhymes in your head!) making sure to shake off as much juice as possible. If you’re a kitchen pro, like me, you can start peeling off the skin the moment you lift Big Red outta the stew. Otherwise, let it cool for five minutes on a clean surface, then use a paper towel to rub off/peel off the skin. Then return Big Red to the stew. I’m sure professional cooks would advise a less dangerous technique. Fuck ’em.

Let’s say the two hours have passed. Time to introduce the protein! But, ah ah ah, wait. We need to thicken our stew. With your handy ladle, scoop out a third of the cooked veggies, making sure to shake off as much juice as possible, and sit them in a waiting bowl. The veg will be nice and soft, so use the ladle or a fork, whatever, to mash it up. Mash, mash, mash to a smooth consistency. Reintroduce the mashed product to the stew, give it a stir, then follow up with the waiting protein. That tomato’s in the way, right? Crush it to as small or as large as you want those tomato bits to be. I like mine chunky.

If you’re in a hurry, forty-five minutes on medium low. But if you got the time, and you love a really beautiful stew, turn it low, or even better…turn it off.

Let it rest. Leave it covered. I go so far as to move the entire pot into my oven, and leave it overnight. I know, the pros are having a fit. Again, fuck ’em.

The next day, you bring that pot back to a slow boil and serve appropriately. Your taste buds and your stew enjoying company will worship you as a god.

Broth made from the remains of the last meal*

When you’re cleaning a cooked carcass to serve, what gets left behind instantly should be introduced to a stock pot, covered in clean water, and left to slow simmer for four hours. After the requisite time, use a colander to capture the big pieces of bone, sinew, and meat, and a mesh screen (however tiny you can find it) to clear out any nasty bits and residual fat. You want pretty liquid broth with no floaties. Pour the broth into a freezer-compatible tub and throw the sprigs of cilantro in with it. Freeze until time to make this recipe. When ready to use, thaw to room temperature prior to adding to stock. I’m sure there’s a more technical way to make broth, but I’m a home cook, and a pretty badass one, so I guarantee my method works.

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2 thoughts on “My Easy Stew Recipe Will Save Your Life!

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