What kind of stews can you do

Stews are “soul food” - and they don't require much work

  • Chez Christina

    Christina Hubbeling

Stews go perfectly with the mood in this cold season and leave plenty of space to experiment while cooking.

There is also a very mundane reason that I love to prepare stews: In a four-person household, the dirty dishes quickly pile up in the sink, so the principle of the stew dish suits me extremely well: It is cut up, whatever the fridge and pantry produce, and also some vegetable scraps can be used in this way. Then everything goes into one and the same pot, where it develops beguiling aromas while cooking and does not make you despair afterwards when washing the dishes.

In addition, stews are real soul warmers and are perfect for the cold, wet season. My current favorite is a vegetarian millet stew with chickpeas and various vegetables, which I sometimes add more, sometimes less spiciness.

You can find the recipe below, although I have to note that the stew is always a bit different: Instead of green runner beans, it can also be canned kidney beans, and instead of pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli or romanesco are often used in the stew. Or I use cabbage cut into strips and chopped kale instead of leeks.

I am happy to add a handful of raclette potatoes that do not have to be peeled. Sometimes mushrooms are also added. A red pepper cut into cubes is always good, but unfortunately it's not in season at the moment.

Vegetarian millet stew with chickpeas and vegetables

ingredients for 4–6 servings

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 leek, cleaned and cut into rings
3 cm fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
about 5 tbsp olive oil
250 g millet (peeled)
2 teaspoons of curry powder
about 1¾ liter vegetable stock
1 handful of green runner beans, prepared
1 kg Hokkaido pumpkin, prepared and diced, 1 glass or can of 250 g chickpeas (cooked)
2 tbsp fresh chopped herbs as desired (for example parsley, marjoram, coriander)
2 tbsp Greek plain yogurt
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 can of pelati à 400 g gross weight, cut into pieces, salt, pepper to taste,
optionally 1–2 dl coconut milk to refine
Tip: Mix in some harissa or a chilli pepper for more heat.

preparation

Sauté onion, leek and ginger with olive oil in a casserole dish over medium heat. Add millet and curry powder and sauté briefly while stirring. Pour in the bouillon, add the beans, pumpkin cubes and drained chickpeas. The contents of the roaster should be completely covered with liquid. If this is not the case, add a little more stock. Let it cook for about 15 minutes with the lid closed (note the information on the millet packaging! If the cooking time is longer, add the vegetables later). Mix in the herbs, yogurt, tomato puree and pelati. Season the stew with salt and pepper. Refine with a little coconut milk if you like.

Cast iron pots conduct heat well

It is advisable to purchase a high-quality roasting pan - also known as a casserole or cocotte - for stews and stews. The French have some very nice specimens on offer, the most famous of which are the traditional brands Staub and Le Creuset.

The latter has recently become a veritable trend brand and the range has been expanded to include numerous sizes and colors. The advantage of a good cast iron roaster is that it conducts the heat regularly over the base, walls and lid, regardless of whether the roaster has an oval or round shape or whether it is a coated specimen or one made of raw cast iron.

An acquisition for life

Cast iron pots also store heat well - dishes stay warm in the hot roaster for around 45 minutes, even if they are no longer on the stove. Another plus point: A casserole dish is also ideal when you have guests over. While the dish is cooking towards its completion in the oven or on the hob, there is enough time to take care of the starter, table decorations and outfit.

A cocotte is an acquisition for life if you take care of it and observe the following: If it is an uncoated pot (a raw cast iron pot without an enamel layer), you should wash it with hot water before using it for the first time and then brush it generously with vegetable oil and heat slowly. This process is called branding.

Now the pot is set aside to cool and then the excess oil is removed with kitchen paper. Even later, the uncoated cocotte needs to be rubbed with some cooking oil (inside and outside) from time to time.

Second, you should never clean the cocottes, whether coated or uncoated, with aggressive cleaning agents, but use a mild detergent and avoid using abrasive sponges.

Bake bread in a cast iron pot

Basically, a roaster can be used in a variety of ways. Also for desserts such as rice pudding or stuffed baked apples. Ideally, however, for stews in which the meat is gently cooked in the roaster for hours on a very low heat, until it is so tender that it almost crumbles.

But a roaster can do more than stew - bake bread, for example. The cult recipe from New York, in which the bread dough does not have to be kneaded and contains very little yeast, but requires almost 24 hours to rise, is baked in a cast iron pot, as is well known. It is important that the pot is properly heated up in the oven before baking so that it takes on the function of a firebrick.

Bread from the cast iron pot - the cult recipe

Ingredients for about 650 grams

430 g flour plus a little more to shape
1¼ teaspoon salt (8 g)
¼ tsp dry yeast (1 g)
3 dl and 4 tbsp lukewarm water
Cornmeal or bran for sprinkling

preparation

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add water and mix quickly with a wooden trowel to a firm dough (stir for a maximum of one minute). Cover the bowl with cling film and a plate. Let rise twice at room temperature for 18 hours. Place a clean tea towel on the work surface, generously sprinkle the work surface and the cloth in the middle with flour. Take the dough out of the bowl with the spatula and place on the work surface. Fold inwards from the sides with the spatula. Let rest for another 15 minutes. Shape the dough into a round loaf and place on the cloth. Sprinkle with corn flour or some bran. Fold in the corners of the cloth loosely and let the dough rise for another 2 hours at room temperature. Place the cast iron pot on a baking sheet and slide it into the oven on the lowest groove. Preheat the oven (with pot) to 240 degrees. Take the hot pot out of the oven (attention, the pot is very hot, be sure to wear oven gloves) and tip the dough head first into the pot. Put the lid on and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid (make sure to wear oven gloves here too) and bake for another 25 minutes. Take the bread out of the pot and let it cool down on a wire rack.