Making a good stew should be considered a basic life skill. It’s simple, doesn’t require an exact recipe or set of ingredients, and the result is a nourishing, savory meal, all in one pot. I myself have been completely overlooking this dish, but was reminded of all its glory at a recent cooking class I attended with a friend. Since then, I’ve made one version or another weekly, and I always find myself exclaiming to my family (at my own cooking, haha), “Isn’t this stew AMAZING??!?! Isn’t it? ISN’T IT???????”
The recipe I’m providing here is a classic stew with a focus on root vegetables for the winter season. I am relishing the flavors of a much wider variety of root vegetables lately – I had a sort of “root vegetable awakening” thanks to my first ever fall/winter crop-share experience, which exposed me to the spicy, sweet and even bitter flavors of turnips, celeriac, rutabagas and parsnips (plus challenged me to better enjoy beets!). Thanks Featherstone Farm! Now that I know how delicious and versatile these winter storage crops are, I’m quite embarrassed that as a gardener I have overlooked them for so long!
As you read the recipe below, know that you do not need to be limited by the ingredients I’ve listed. Virtually any vegetables or spice combination can work. The key is in the framework: sear the meat first, add some flavor through sautéed onions, garlic and spices, choose plenty of veggies and cook it all in a tasty broth long and low. Although a stew can be made completely on the stove top when pinched for time, you will get the most tender meat and depth of flavor by cooking it in a dutch oven or other oven-safe dish for 2-3 hours at low heat in the oven.