Today’s wisdom is on stewing meat, a timely post for your hearty January menu.
“Stewing is cooking at simmering point in a small quantity of liquid. It is an economical method of cooking, because what is lost from the meat is in the gravy which is always served with it. Meat to be stewed should be put into a stewpan with enough hot water to cover it and kept at simmering point until tender, but no longer. The meat in stews is often as ragged and flavourless as meat from which stock has been made, simply from over stewing. There can be no reasonable excuse made for such a fault, as the stew may be removed from the fire when ready, and reheated when required without all deteriorating. It is not like roast or boiled meat which must be served as soon as cooked to be in perfection.
The length of time allowed for stewing will entirely depend on the kind of meat stewed; very tough meat will sometimes take four hours or more before it becomes tender; pieces of meat like ox-cheek or shin of beef always require long cooking. If tough meat is dipped in vinegar before it is stewed the action of the acid on the fiber will cause it to soften more readily.
Vegetables are generally stewed with the meat as they improve both the flavour of the meat and the gravy. The secret of success in stewing lies in slow cooking, therefore care should be taken that the gravy is never allowed to boil. A gentle bubble now and again at on se of the saucepan is the indication of simmering heat.
A soluble saucepan is exceedingly useful for stewing, or the stewpan containing the meat may be put to stand in a larger on containing boiling water; cooked thus there is no possibility of the stew itself boiling.”
Source: A Complete Cookery Guide, c. 1912.