“Most cultures don’t sear meat for stew. What do they know that we don’t?” It’s one of the first questions we asked here at Milk Street, and one that has changed the way we cook stew.
Searing can be messy and timely. Sure, there’s a time and place for the browning that a good sear can impart (the result of the Maillard reaction, which occurs when food is exposed to high heat). But when the meat will be submerged in liquid, as it is in stew, we prefer a different method for building flavor.
Our better way? Add handfuls of fresh herbs and robust spices into your stew, and save yourself the time and effort of searing.
In our Austrian Beef Stew with Paprika and Carraway (Rindsgulasch), that means seasoning the beef with paprika, salt and pepper before cooking, and blooming two kinds of paprika and caraway in buttery sautéed onions. Broth then deglazes the pan to pick up any savory bits, and only then do you add the beef. The beef cooks, along with flavorful herbs, covered low and slow for two hours. For browning, the stew cooks uncovered in the oven for an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours. That’s the “new stew!”
Other stew recipes that put this method to work include our Chinese Beef Stew with Chickpeas and Star Anise, Roman Braised Beef with Tomatoes and Cloves and No-Sear Lamb or Beef and Chickpea Stew—all of which can be found in our new cookbook, Milk Street: The New Rules.
Pick up a copy of the book here to learn more game changing cooking tips like the permission—and indeed encouragement—to stop searing your meat.