Comfort food at its finest is easy to make, easier to eat and as flavorful as a longshoreman’s vocabulary. Which is why there’s nothing quite like a good stew.
We asked accomplished chefs for their favorite go-to stew recipes this time of year.
Here are three bowls full of simple, stick-to-your-ribs goodness with serious leftover potential.
1. Braised Short Rib Stew (pictured above)
Eric Maczko: Executive Chef, Round Pond Estate Wine, Olive Oil, Vinegar and Artisan Syrup Makers
6 bone-in short ribs (roughly 5 1/2 to 6 pounds)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 cups Round Pond Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon (or other full-bodied red wine)
1 quart beef stock
1 bunch thyme
2 bay leaves (tied with thyme in kitchen string)
Salt and pepper
Step 1: Pat short ribs dry with paper towel, then season each generously with salt and pepper. Coat Dutch oven or braiser large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with oil and bring to high heat. Add short ribs to pan and brown very well, about 2-3 minutes per side. Cook in batches if necessary without overcrowding the pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2: Remove short ribs. Drain used oil, then add 3 tablespoons of new oil and brown vegetables and garlic in pan, approximately 5-7 minutes.
Step 3: Scrape pan and add tomato paste. Brown for 4-5 minutes. Add wine and scrape bottom of pan. Lower heat if it starts to burn. Reduce mixture by about 3/4.
Step 4: Return short ribs to pan and add beef stock to fully cover them. Add thyme/bay leaf bundle. Cover pan and place in preheated oven for 3 hours.
Step 5: Check periodically during cooking process and add more stock, if needed.
Step 6: Remove lid during last 20 minutes of cooking to let the top brown and sauce reduce. When done, meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Cool ribs in braising liquid to keep moist. Serve with braising liquid vegetables, and potato purée, polenta, egg noodles or wild rice.
2. Braised Moroccan Lamb Stew
Danny Boome: Chef and TV personality, host of Recipe Rehab, Donut Showdown, Good Food America
For the lamb:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or boneless leg of lamb, 1 1/2-inch cubes
For the stew:
1 onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 carrots, roughly diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14.5-oz.) can chickpeas, drained
1 lemon, zested
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup dried apricots
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Step 1: In a mixing bowl add turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cardamom, salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix well until it turns into a paste. If paste is too thick add a little more olive oil. Add cubed lamb and toss to coat well. Cover and set aside.
Step 2: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 of lamb, and brown well. Remove, then repeat with remaining thirds of lamb.
Step 3: Add onions and carrots to pot and sweat for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger; cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and chick peas, then return lamb to pot and stir in lemon zest, chicken stock, apricots and honey.
Step 4: Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours, stirring occasionally until lamb is tender. Sprinkle stew with chopped fresh cilantro and serve right from the pot.
3. Hearty Chicken Thigh Stew
Matthew Robinson: Chef, food scientist, author of Knickerbocker Glory: A Chef’s Guide to Innovation in the Kitchen and Beyond and runner of The Culinary Exchange
1 pound chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic
1 medium yellow bell pepper
1 medium red bell pepper
1 medium sweet onion
1/2 pound shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine (Riesling is recommended)
1 cup canned tomato sauce
1 can (16 oz.) whole tomatoes
5 cups low sodium chicken broth or stock
Salt and pepper
Step 1. Finely chop garlic; slice and deseed peppers; thinly slice onions; clean mushrooms and cut in half; pat chicken thighs dry with paper towel, then season liberally with salt and pepper.
Step 2. In a large pot heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken thighs and brown on both sides. Remove once both sides are browned.
Step 3: Add peppers and onions to pot and cook until soft.
Step 4: Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.
Step 5: Add garlic to pot and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Step 6: Add wine and bring to a simmer scraping the flavorful bits stuck to bottom of pot.
Step 7: Add tomato sauce and whole tomatoes. Bring to a simmer again.
Step 8: Return chicken to pan and add stock. Simmer 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
Step 9: Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 10: Serve over rice or noodles.