food | cooking with ron have accumulated the fond, the bits of meat and fat that stick to the pan. Add about a halfcup of cooking liquid – wine, cider, beer – and with a wooden spoon scrape up that fond. When that liquid has almost but not quite evaporated, add the rest of the braising liquid and ingredients as the recipe calls for. Bring stew to a boil, reduce heat to a bare simmer, cover and let cook. Look in after 20 minutes or so; if bubbling too vigorously, turn down the heat further, and if not gurgling at all, increase heat. Alternatively, heat oven to 315 degrees. Bring stew to a boil on top of the stove, cover with aluminum foil and the pot lid, and put in oven to cook.
Braise until the meat is done Stew is done when a large fork, such as a barbecue fork, slides into and out of the meat without grabbing at all. If upon stabbing into the meat you lift it out, the stew needs more time. Let it cook for another half-hour and test again. Stews continue to improve in flavor as they
sit and flavors marry. They’re often better a day after initial cooking. Plan ahead, cook when you have time and reheat when ready to eat. While I certainly do enjoy a straightforward American-style stew made with beef chuck, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and canned tomatoes, my list of ethnic stews at the beginning here inspired me to investigate some other less familiar stewed dishes, which I offer below. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Chicken, lemon and olive stew (Serves 6) 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed 1 ⁄ 2 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon coriander One or two small dried red chilies, stemmed and crumbled 1 3-inch cinnamon stick 1 bay leaf 2 cups chicken broth Finely grated zest and juice of two lemons 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained 1 cup small pitted green olives Chopped fresh cilantro or mint for garnish Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, brown chicken well all over, about 3 minutes per side, transferring each batch to a plate. Reduce heat to medium, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and beginning to brown. Add all spices and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Add chicken broth and a half-cup of