forum: Food & Drink

#1 Sat 24 Feb 07 4:36pm

Michele C

From Hampshire
Member since Sun 30 Jul 06

Improve my stew!!

Hi I have just come back from staying in a Hotel with 2 AA rosettes. I thought the food would be lovely but it was so rich and fussy. I could not finish my meals. I love basic food with lots of vegetables. My favourite is stew and dumplings. Has anyone any ideas to make my stews interesting? Any secret ingredients , ie herbs or ingredients that make them better as at the moment I am eating them every couple of days. Thanks

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#2 Sat 24 Feb 07 5:00pm

young mum

Forum champ
Member since Tue 22 Mar 05

Re: Improve my stew!!

Feijoada: Traditional Brasilian Stew (c) Jamie Oliver 2003
Show:  Oliver's Twist
Episode:  Carnival Brazil 

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 8 hours
Cook Time: 2 hours
Yield: 4 servings

My mate Santos is the head potwasher at my restaurant, Fifteen. He's a Brazilian, who's a great cook, and whose mother makes the best Feijoada in Brazil! It's a traditional Brazilian stew made with pork and black beans. The slaves in colonial Brazil created the Feijoada when they started cooking the pork meats that farmland owners discarded, such as ear, tails and feet, in a big pot with the black beans.
1 pound black beans, dried - not from a tin
1 pound salted pork ribs
1 pound salted bacon
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped
2 large smoked sausages, cut into big chunks
1 pound smoked pork ribs, cut into pieces
1 pound smoked bacon, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
5 bay leaves
Cooked rice, orange slices, spring greens, as accompaniment

Soak the beans in cold water overnight, making sure they are completely covered. Also soak the salted ribs and bacon in cold water overnight.
Drain the beans and put them into a large saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then simmer for 30 minutes until tender.

Rinse the soaked salted ribs and bacon well, add to the beans and cook for 30 minutes over a medium heat. Heat a very large saucepan and pour in the olive oil so it covers the bottom. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened. Add the sausages, smoked ribs and bacon, pepper and bay leaves. Pour in the cooked beans and meat and top up with water. Simmer for about 1 hour, until the meat falls off the bone.

Serve the Feijoada with boiled white rice, slices of orange, and very finely sliced spring greens fried in olive oil with finely chopped onion and garlic.

Pappardelle with Rabbit Recipe courtesy Jamie's Kitchen. (c) Jamie Oliver 2002
Show:  Jamie's Kitchen
Episode:  Jamie's Kitchen - Episode 5 

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

For this recipe you can also use beef, venison, wild boar and even pigeon or hare. In Italy, if a family has to feed 8 people out of this, then they would cook more pasta and add a little more water ? as always, a little meat can go a long way.

1 pound 12 ounces (800 grams) rabbit joints, seasoned
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful fresh rosemary and fresh thyme, leaves picked and finely chopped
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 wineglasses Chianti
2 (14-ounce/400 gram) tins plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons pearl barley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 ounces (400 grams) fresh or dried pappardelle
3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) butter
2 handfuls grated Parmesan

In a hot casserole-type pan fry your rabbit in a little olive oil until golden brown then add your herbs, onions, garlic, carrot and celery. Turn the heat down and continue to fry for 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Add your red wine and continue to simmer until the liquid has almost cooked away but left you with a fantastic colour and fragrance.
Add the plum tomatoes, the pearl barley and just enough water to cover the meat by 1/2-inch/1cm. Make yourself a cartouche of greaseproof paper, wet it under the tap, rub it with a little olive oil and place it over the pan. Put a lid on the pan as well, as this will retain as much moisture as possible while cooking. Cook on a really low heat for about 2 to 3 hours. It's ready when you can literally push the meat off the bone and it will flake away in tender strands. At this point season carefully with salt and pepper, to taste, and allow to cool slightly before removing the meat from the pan. Using 2 forks, pull apart all the lovely pieces of meat, throwing away any skin and bones. Put the meat back in the pan on a low heat.

It's now ready to serve, so cook your pappardelle in a pan of boiling, salted water for 3 minutes, if using fresh pasta, and according to the packet instructions if using dried. Once it's cooked, drain it in a colander, saving some of the cooking liquid in case the sauce needs a little loosening. Remove the stewed rabbit from the heat and stir in the butter and Parmesan with a little of the cooking water – this will make it juicy and shiny. Toss together with your pasta and serve immediately.

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#3 Sat 24 Feb 07 5:03pm

young mum

Forum champ
Member since Tue 22 Mar 05

Re: Improve my stew!!

Jamie's recipe for Moroccan Lamb Stew from his book "Jamie's Kitchen" - serves 4.

I made this dish up the other day on a kind of Moroccan vibe, when I was mucking about with ways of marinating and tenderising a neck fillet of lamb, which is a really tasty and cheap cut of meat.  I trimmed the meat of all the sinews, bashed it flat using a rolling pin, and made 2 incisions down the length of each fillet. , but not quite to the end, so it looked almost like a tripod.  I then marinated it with lots of spices and herbs and plaited it to give a contrast between crispy and soft meat, which I thought would be interesting.  You don't have to plait the meat, but it does increase the surface area, meaning the marinade can get right in there.  Jools thought I was mucking about with it too much and being very camp - you decide!

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 or 4 small dried chillies
1 small bunch fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 thumb-sized pieces fresh ginger,  peeled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
4 smallish neck fillets of lamb, prepared as above
4 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2.5cm/1 inch dice
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
12 ripe plum tomatoes, each cut into 8 pieces
1 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 handful dried apricots
285ml/1/2 pint boiling water
350gr/12oz couscous
a little wine vinegar
1 large bunch fresh coriander
4 tablespoons natural yogurt

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.

Pound up your cumin, coriander and fennel seeds with the dried chillies, rosemary, ginger and a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Smear half of this marinade over your lamb before you plait it.  Rub and massage it in then put the meat to one side while you mix the rest of the marinade in a bowl with the sweet potatoes, onions and garlic.

Brown your 4 marinaded pieces of meat on both sides in a pan with a little olive oil.  Add the sweet potato mixture to the pan and remove the lamb to the empty bowl while you fry your veg for about 4 minutes until the onions are slightly soft.  Add your tomatoes, give the pan a shake and place the meat on top.  Add 3 wineglasses of water, the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and dried apricots, and braise in the preheated oven (I suggest you do this with the lid off to give it a little colour) for 1 hour 15 minutes.  Now pour the boiling water over the couscous and allow it to be absorbed.  Then fork the couscous through, season with salt, pepper, a lug of olive oil and a swig of wine vinegar, cover with tinfoil and place in the oven for 5 minutes to steam.

Roughly chop the fresh coriander and stir it through the stew just before serving.  Divide between 4 plates with the couscous and spoon over a good dollop of natural yoghurt.

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#4 Sun 25 Feb 07 11:04am

Dave Barker

Forum champ
Occupation Chef
From At the stove...
Member since Tue 29 Jun 04

Re: Improve my stew!!

My top tip for stew is pearl barley... They go all chewey and pop in your mouth, they add great texture to the dish...

They take about 45 mins on a gentle simmer to cook, so just add them to your stew 45 mins before the end of your cooking time.

Also, for exrta flavour, add a glass of red wine and a dash of Worcestershire sauce...

I have found some brilliant old fashioned mushroom ketchup that gives the stew real depth and flavour, but dont add that and worcestershire sauce because it makes the stew salty...

If you cant find the mushroom ketchup  you could soak some porchini mushrooms and add those plus the soaking water... that adds good flavour too...

Stir in a big handfull of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley just as you are ready to serve for a realy fresh flavour hit...

Dave B

Last edited by DB27 (Sun 25 Feb 07 11:08am)

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#5 Sun 25 Feb 07 2:24pm

Michele C

From Hampshire
Member since Sun 30 Jul 06

Re: Improve my stew!!

Hiya DB27, thank you very much. I love mushrooms so will certainly be trying the ketchup.Not heard of it before? Any idea of the maker.? There is a deli near me that is the type of shop that may stock it. I will also try the pearl barley.

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#6 Sun 25 Feb 07 3:34pm


Forum champ
From Cambodia, eh?
Member since Tue 09 Nov 04

Re: Improve my stew!!

This is a straight ahead beef stew that we've been enjoying all winter long. And as Dave says, it's the wine that gives stew the extra oomph. That, and the kick you get from adding lemon zest, fresh garlic and rosemary just before serving -- either in the bowl, or as I do, simply added to the pot just before removing from the oven. Knockout flavour, for sure!

Excerpted from: Jamie's Dinners

Jools's Favorite Beef Stew

        (Serves 4)
        Olive oil
        A knob of butter
        1 onion, peeled and chopped
        A handful of fresh sage leaves
        1-3/4 lb stewing steak or beef skirt, cut into 2 inch pieces
        Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
        Flour, to dust
        2 parsnips, peeled and quartered
        4 carrots, peeled and halved
        1/2 a butternut squash, halved, deseeded and roughly diced
        Optional: a handful of Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and halved
        1 lb small potatoes
        2 tablespoons tomato purée
        1/2 a bottle of red wine
        1-1/4 cups beef or vegetable stock
        Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
        A handful of rosemary, leaves picked
        1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Put a little oil and your knob of butter into an appropriately sized pot or casserole pan. Add your onion and all the sage leaves and fry for 3 or 4 minutes. Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with all the vegetables, the tomato purée, wine and stock, and gently stir together. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and just a little salt. Bring to the boil, place a lid on top, then cook in the preheated oven until the meat is tender. Sometimes this takes 3 hours, sometimes 4 -- it depends on what cut of meat you're using and how fresh it is. The only way to test is to mash up a piece of meat and if it falls apart easily it's ready. Once it's cooked, you can turn the oven down to about 225°F and just hold it there until you're ready to eat it.

The best way to serve this is by ladling big spoonfuls into bowls, accompanied by a glass of French red wine and some really fresh warmed bread. Mix the lemon zest, chopped rosemary and garlic together and sprinkle over the stew before eating. Just the smallest amount will make a world of difference -- as soon as it hits the hot stew it will release an amazing fragrance.

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#7 Sun 25 Feb 07 7:51pm


Forum champ
Occupation Retired Clergy & Computer Consultant
From Bradford, West Yorks
Member since Mon 03 Jul 06

Re: Improve my stew!!

All the advice above is good, there are only a few tips I can add.

Do the meat "on the bone" if you can, or add a few   soup bones (usually free from your butcher). (you can remove the bones before serving.

Add a few strip of finely pared orange rind to beef stew.

Fry off a handful of lardons, add tge first, tge brown the meat in the fat from the lardons.

Vary your dumplings. Try adding breadcrumbs to lighten the, and/or herbs to flavour them (I assume you you use suet?)

Try different form of dumpling - High Hat (scone topping) is good, especially with herby or cheesy scone. You can also add lardons to the scones (in which case they are called buffins).

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#8 Mon 26 Feb 07 6:32pm


Member since Mon 26 Feb 07

Re: Improve my stew!!

whenever you feel that your bewstew is almost perfect but you feel that there is one thing missing but you cant put your finger on it...try adding my favourite ingrediënt; a tiny splash of cognac.

On alcoholic cooking; try some (good) wodka in your chili con carne...

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#9 Tue 27 Feb 07 12:36am

Michele C

From Hampshire
Member since Sun 30 Jul 06

Re: Improve my stew!!

Hi All

Thank you again for all you great suggestions. Will be off to the shops to try some of your ideas. Love the ideas of Lardons, and all the different herbs plus the different dumplings. Oh and the chili con carne idea etc plus the citrus rind idea is one I will also try!!

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#10 Tue 27 Feb 07 3:37am


Occupation Collections, Management
From Orange NSW
Member since Fri 16 Feb 07

Re: Improve my stew!!

Im not sure how some of you feel about it but I use vegemite in my stews it has the great beef taste with everything else

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