Stew is a fantastic comfort food that’s just right for the dark, cold winter days that are about to start, and there’s a good reason for that; it’s hearty, warming, filling, and it’s absolutely packed with flavour. However, there is a danger that it can become quite boring, especially if it becomes your go-to evening meal (perhaps because you’ve batch-cooked it and it’s a handy thing to reheat and eat when there’s not a lot of time, for example).
The good news is there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of different ways to make stew a lot more interesting and exciting, so read on to find out what just a few of them are, and you’ll soon be turning your stew into something very special indeed.
TRY DIFFERENT MEAT
Traditional stew recipes usually have beef or chicken as the main ingredient, but there’s no rule to say that you have to stick with those proteins – in fact, one of the easiest ways to make your stew a lot more exciting would be to experiment with using different meat – or perhaps no meat at all.
Why not try lamb, pork, or even seafood like prawns and muscles or fish itself to give a different kind of flavour to the stew – and in some cases, a different texture as well. As we mentioned above, you can do away with the meat element altogether and add all kinds of different vegetables to bulk it out and once again you’ve got something entirely different to your usual old stew.
To make your stew more exciting, why not look at what countries around the world use as flavourings and try to incorporate some of those ideas into your recipe? You can add spices and peppers and make it a hot kind of stew, or add some coconut curry sauce to make it more Thai-inspired.
Really you can add anything at all to stew, and it’s very hard to make it taste bad, so you can experiment as much as you want to, and you’re unlikely to have any problems. In fact, this kind of experimentation can be another way to make stew more exciting anyway, even if you’re only adding flavours you already know.
MAKE YOUR OWN BREAD
There’s nothing like some lovely, crusty, ideally warm bread when you have stew – whether you dip it into your bowl or use it to wipe around the last drops at the end (or both!), it’s an added element that really makes a difference. If you love bread with your stew, one way to make it more exciting is to make it yourself. This baguette recipe from Preppy Kitchen is a great example of the kind of thing you can make because baguettes are possibly the very best bread to have with stew, and the recipe itself is a simple one.
Add some butter for a creamy texture or leave that out if you want a healthier dinner, but in either case, that fluffy bread combined with your hearty stew is sure to make you look forward to your meal more than usual.
LAYER IT UP
Another fun way to make your stew even more exciting is to layer the flavours. That might sound like a strange thing to do, but it basically means adding ingredients at different timings rather than throwing everything in together, which is why you would probably normally do when you’re making stew.
Although this does mean it’s a little more time-intensive, the end result will be something new and exciting. Even though you’re using the same ingredients you normally would, the fact that they’re all cooking at different times means the final stew will taste unique, and the more layers you add, the more complex and delicious it will be.
Don’t just assume that a garnish is something that’s only there to make a dish look more attractive and doesn’t really serve much more of a purpose than that – you can include a garnish that adds yet another layer of flavour if you want to, enhancing your stew and making it different and tasty.
In fact, even if this is the only thing you change and everything else stays exactly the same, you’ll still end up with lots of different variations. Some ideas of new and exciting garnishes include fresh herbs (and there are a multitude to choose from, each one giving a different flavour), grated cheese, crispy onions, sour cream, or perhaps a spoonful of pesto. Can you imagine how great your stew would be if you tried these ideas?