May 20, 2024


Free For All Food

Recipes: Three hearty stews that let you skip a step

Makes 6 servings

This simple stew, inspired in part by classic Austrian iterations and in part by Kurt Gutenbrunner’s recipe in Neue Cuisine: The Elegant Tastes of Vienna, derives much of its bold flavor and rich color from sweet and hot paprika, so make sure the paprika you use is fresh and fragrant. For the deepest, earthiest flavor, we recommend seeking out true Hungarian paprika; we use a combination of sweet and hot to achieve just the right degree of spice. Serve with egg noodles, spätzle, or mashed potatoes.

Don’t be shy about trimming the chuck roast; removing as much fat as possible before cooking prevents the stew from becoming too greasy. In our experience, the roast usually loses about 1 pound with trimming. To prevent overcooking, cut the beef into no smaller than 1½-inch pieces.

5 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed, patted dry, and cut into 1½-inch pieces

6 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika, divided

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 cups low-sodium beef broth

¼ cup tomato paste

4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons caraway seeds, lightly crushed

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon Hungarian hot paprika

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoons dried marjoram (optional)

¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill, plus dill sprigs to serve

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Sour cream, to serve

Heat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the lower-middle position. Season the beef with 1 tablespoon of the sweet paprika, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat. In a measuring cup or bowl, whisk the broth and tomato paste.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the caraway and flour, then cook, stirring, until the flour begins to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the hot paprika and remaining 5 tablespoons sweet paprika and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in the broth mixture and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Stir in the beef, bay, and marjoram (if using), then bring to a simmer over medium-­high heat. Cover, place in the oven, and cook for 2 hours.

Remove the pot from the oven. Uncover and stir, then return to the oven uncovered and continue to cook until a skewer inserted into the meat meets no resistance, another 1 to 1½ hours. Remove from the oven, stir, and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 15 minutes. Stir in the dill and vinegar. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with dill sprigs. Serve with sour cream.

Pork and kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae).
Pork and kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae).Connie Miller of CB Creatives

Pork and Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)

Makes 6 servings

We give the stew layers of heat by combining the Korean chili paste gochujang with the juice from the drained kimchi (be sure to reserve some of the liquid). If you can find sliced dried shiitake mushrooms, use them instead of whole ones to skip knife work.

We like this soup as a starter, but with a bowl of steamed white rice, it becomes a complete meal.

½ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms

6 scallions, white parts finely chopped, green parts thinly sliced on a bias, reserved separately

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

16-ounce container napa cabbage kimchi, drained (¼ cup liquid reserved) and coarsely chopped

4 teaspoons gochujang

1 pound baby back ribs, separated

12 ounces firm tofu, drained and cut into ¾-inch cubes

2 teaspoons white sugar

In a bowl, combine 1 cup boiling water and the mushrooms. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Discard the stems and thinly slice the caps.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine the scallion whites, garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in half of the kimchi, the mushroom caps, and the gochujang. Add 5 cups cold water, the mushroom soaking liquid, the ribs, and ¼ cup of the kimchi liquid and bring to a boil. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 50 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a lively simmer.

Remove the pot from the heat. Using tongs, transfer the ribs to a plate and let them rest until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.

Shred the meat into bite-size pieces, discarding the bones and cartilage, then add it back to the stew along with the tofu, scallion greens, sugar, and remaining kimchi. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes.

No-sear lamb (or beef) and chickpea stew.
No-sear lamb (or beef) and chickpea stew.Connie Miller of CB Creatives

No-Sear Lamb (or Beef) and Chickpea Stew

Makes 4 servings

For our no-sear, no-stock stew, based on the Yemeni dish maraq, we started with a dry seasoning mix that did double duty, with half the mixture rubbed onto the meat and the rest briefly cooked in the pot with onion, butter, and tomato paste.

To get the savory sweetness of roasted garlic cloves with less trouble, we sliced off the top of the head, then added it whole to the stew to cook alongside the meat.

We liked the flavor and texture of lamb shoulder. Boneless beef chuck works, too, but needs an extra 1 cup of water and must cook for 1½ hours before the carrots are added.

The backbone of the dish is the vibrant spice mixture, so make sure your spices are no more than a year old.

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1¼ pounds boneless lamb shoulder or boneless beef chuck, trimmed of fat and cut into ¾-inch pieces

1 head garlic

2 tablespoons salted butter

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces

15½-ounce can chickpeas, drained

3 ounces baby spinach (about 3 cups)

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more to garnish

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Whole-milk yogurt, to serve (optional)

In a bowl, stir together the paprika, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, 1½ teaspoons of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Reserve half of the spice mixture, then toss the lamb (or beef) with the remaining mixture until well coated. Set aside. Cut off and discard the top third of the garlic head, leaving the cloves intact.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and the reserved spice mixture, then cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute. Add 6 cups of water if using lamb (or 7 cups if using beef) and bring to a boil over high heat. Then add the meat and garlic head, cut side down, and return to a boil. Cover, leaving the lid ajar, and reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour if using lamb (or 1½ hours if using beef). Stir occasionally and adjust the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer.

Add the carrots and continue to simmer, partially covered, for another 30 minutes. Using tongs, remove the garlic head and squeeze over the stew to release the cloves into the stew. Stir in the chickpeas and spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes.

Off the heat, stir in the cilantro and lemon juice, then season the stew with salt and pepper. Serve topped with yogurt and sprinkled with cilantro.

Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to Send comments to [email protected].