Winter stew recipes are one of life’s simplest pleasures.
A stew is a dish, of either vegetables or vegetables and meat, cooked in liquid low and slow, which allows the flavors to mingle. The added liquid can be water, stock, wine, beer, or broth, but the liquid is cooked down, resulting in a thickened sauce or gravy.
Stews come in both vegetarian and omnivore varieties. For meat stews, often tougher cuts of meat are commonly used, since the cooking method of cooking on low heat and for a longer period allows the cuts to tenderize. Stews can be one pot meals and cooked on the stovetop, in a slow cooker, or in the oven.
Now that you have the basics down let’s talk about the benefits. Stews can be an economical way to cook, allowing for cheaper cuts of meat, root vegetables, and dried beans to be used. The beauty of many stews is that they can be made in a crock pot, meaning you can come home to a cooked meal ready and waiting. And most importantly, stews are the ultimate in comfort food. They warm you from the inside out and are super nutritious and wholesome.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the best winter stew recipes to cook this season. This list features stews from around the world to get you inspired. Search out a recipe that suits your needs, whether you want a crock pot version, vegetarian, or just plan on making some warming winter stews.
Classic Winter Stews from Around the World
Image: Beef Bourguignon via Shutterstock
1. Beef Bourguignon
A traditional French stew made with beef that has been braised in red wine, flavored with bouquet garni (a bundle of fresh herbs), and with pearl onions and mushrooms. It is traditionally served with noodles, but you could forgo those and serve it with a bunch of fresh greens.
Image: Pork Tacos via Shutterstock
Carnitas is pork, usually shoulder or butt, that has been braised in water and oil. The meat becomes tender and is shredded with just a fork. It is usually served along with toppings like guacamole, salsa, and fresh cut vegetables in a soft taco.
Image: Cassoulet via Shutterstock
A cassoulet can be made with a variety of meats (recipes abound with chicken, pork, mutton, duck, or beef) and white beans cooked in stock. It’s a super hearty dish that gets its name from the traditional vessel it was cooked in, but it can be cooked in a dutch oven, and even in a slow cooker.
Image: Dal via Shutterstock
Dal is an everyday comfort food dish that is made throughout India. It is made from lentils (different types of lentils can be used, like the red lentil bean) that have been cooked down in water or stock. Spices that have been cooked in oil to release their flavors are added towards the end of cooking.
Image: Ratatouille via Shutterstock
Ratatouille is a dish made from stewed vegetables and aromatics. It’s traditionally made with eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes. It’s a quicker cooking dish than som of the others on this list. It can be served a side dish or a main dish.
Image: Gumbo via Shutterstock
Gumbo traces its origins back to 18th century Louisiana. It has French and Cajun influences. It’s made different types of meat and/or shellfish, the “Holy Trinity” (which consists of celery, bell peppers, and onions) all cooked down in a stock. It’s a super rich stew and isn’t necessarily an everyday kind of dish, but is awesome for special occasions and company.
Image: Tagine via Shutterstock
The Middle Eastern tagine refers to the type of pot this stew was traditionally made in, which is a conical earthenware pot. The varieties of tagine recipes are endless--you can find both vegetarian and meat-centered dishes. While tagines are still used, home cooks can make a tagine is a Dutch oven or even a crock pot.
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Image: Homemade Stew via Shutterstock