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Flavouring stews/casseroles

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by dozymare1957, Oct 11, 2015.

  1. dozymare1957

    dozymare1957 Occasional commenter

    Well, winter is drawing in and I'm back with the stews. Generally I just chop up loads of veggies and throw them in a pot with either beef or chicken and some Oxo or Bouillion and either Italian Seasoning or Herbs de Provence. It's getting a bit boring now. Can anyone advise on nice things to add to give a bit of oomph?

    On a slightly different note, if I shove all this in a huge saucepan and simmer slowly for about 8 hours, the meat is delish. However, I invested in a slow cooker but it has been disastrous. The first time it was burnt and nasty and the second time it was just nasty - it tasted weird. What am I doing wrong?
     
  2. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Prunes or dried apricots add sweetness and moisture
    Chunks of bacon and/or belly pork and depth and flavour
    Chorizo does the same as bacon
    A couple of chopped anchovies add depth, without tasting at all fishy
    Booze - red wine, beer, stout, port or Marsala to replace some or all of the stock
    Another booze choice with chicken would be Riesling and then a drop of cream at the end
    Mushrooms add a massive savoury note

    I've never really used a slow cooker so I can't comment, sorry Dozy.
     
  3. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    I always use plenty of pearl barley. Sticks to the ribs in a satisfying way.
     
  4. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    Nick has covered most of my usual additions. Game can work well if you really slow cook the onions and add some crushed juniper berries.

    I find that you just don't get the same depth of flavour in the slow cooker as on the hob or in the oven. I saw something on TV where they said you need to add more flavouring.

    I now have a pearl barley craving. Irish stew for us next week!
     
  5. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    My mum's mum used to do a sheep's head in a stockpot - used to be on the hob for days while she added more veg for each meal and eked out the meat - also had lots of pearl barley in it - my mum said by the end you didn't know what was pearl barley and what was sheep's teeth.
     
  6. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    Hey Dozy,
    Try making your beef into a chilli - fry the beef off in paprika, cumin, chilli powder, add your vegetables in, add a couple of squirts of tomato puree, some oregano/majoram and a tin of chopped tomatoes and towards the end of cooking add a can of kidney beans.
     
  7. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    Grow sage and thyme in the garden if you have one. They are really easy and big enough after a year or so to keep you supplied with far better than you'll get from the supermarket. Don't bother chopping, just add a sprig, stem + leaves and take it out before serving. This is not a quick solution however.

    Bay leaves add body and depth without necessarily specific flavour.

    I usually start with a very finely chopped base of celery and onions that I fry down before adding anything else, they are great for background flavour and virtually undetectable as "bits" in the finished product.

    Old mushrooms work really well for this too, when they've gone over a bit, chop them finely and add at the start, they disintegrate and add body.
     
  8. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    This is definitely true. Bay leaves are something you don't notice when they're there, but do notice when they're not. Like a hardworking midfielder.
    Also, whilst dried bay leaves are fairly cheap and last forever, most people who grow bay trees (there's always at least one on every street) have far more leaves than they can possibly use so don't usually mind you pruning a couple off if you ask first. Fresh ones have a lovely aroma.
     
  9. dozymare1957

    dozymare1957 Occasional commenter

    Thank you all so much. Great ideas. Shopping tonight so I'll get a few of the things you've suggested.

    Really like the idea of dried apricots and will give the prunes a go.
     
  10. sparklepig2002

    sparklepig2002 Star commenter

    Try sealing the meat before you put it in the slow pot Dozy.
     

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