Nothing says “satisfying meal” like a flavorful stew on a cold evening. And since stew is geared towards less tender cuts of meat, the dish is also frugal. From Hungarian goulash to the Nigerian vegetable stew called ewedu, all cultures have a basic stew specialty all their own.
Paired with homemade bread, cornbread, rice, or noodles, you can stretch your dollars even further with zero expense of flavor. Here’s a recent elk stew I made that turned out delicious, but you can use beef or even just focus on hearty mushrooms if you’re a vegetarian.
- 1 lb elk stewing meat cut into bite-sized chunks (you can use beef or even lamb stew meat)
- 2 lbs soup bones (I used beef soup bones, but use what you can get readily and cheaply)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup chopped sweet peppers (I used mini sweet peppers, but you can use whatever kind you’d like)
- 1 lb mushrooms, sliced coarsly
- 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cups stock (you can use vegetable, beef, or chicken stock. Basically, whatever stock you have on hand to give the stew a deeper flavor)
- 2 tbls olive oil
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 tbl paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbl ground sundried tomatoes (just take sundried tomatoes and grind them fine, either in a coffee grinder or using your blender as a grinder. See my post on making mushroom powder for the how-to on this: Homemade Mushroom Powder)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Additional water as needed through cooking
- Serve with cooked rice or noodles to taste (optional)
Place your olive oil in a dutch oven and heat on a medium flame. Saute your onion and garlic until soft and just starting to brown around the edges. Add your mushrooms and peppers, and saute until soft.
Remove the vegetables to a bowl, add more oil if necessary, and brown your stew meat on all sides.
Deglaze the pot with the wine (or a bit of stock if you’re leaving the wine out). Put your vegetables back in the pot along with the meat. Add your Worcestershire sauce, paprika, cloves, and bay leaf. Add your soup bones and your stock. Add additional water if needed to cover the bones completely.
Simmer gently for the first hour with the lid on. Then remove the lid and simmer to continue cooking. Add water as necessary to make sure the meat cooks long enough to soften, and to allow the soup bones to give up whatever meat was on them. This can take several hours.
When the meat is tender, allow the stew to continue to simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced by about half. The broth will have a wonderful flavor and color at this point. Taste to correct the seasoning, by adding salt and pepper if desired.
If you’re using a slow cooker for the actual cooking of the stew, you will need to finish the stew on the stove top to allow the broth to reduce sufficiently. Just boil the stew until reduced; perhaps 30 minutes.
You can serve in a bowl alongside a plate of bread, or place a serving of noddles or rice in a bowl, and serve the stew on top. This option would really help you stretch your dollar.
This is a tasty stew, and it really is worth having ground sun-dried tomatoes on hand to add to various dishes. You can can this using a pressure canner; follow the various canning instructions given at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.