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Feed yourself for two days with a healthy meat stew

There are two reasons you should like stew: it is highly nutritious and very economical. All of the nutrition lost by the ingredients during the cooking process is captured by the cooking liquid. Many of the ingredients also have the virtue of being winter-keeper vegetables, which store easily and are inexpensive. At current grocery store prices, to make the quantity of stew described in this recipe would cost around $3.25. Along with the recommended servings of grains and starches from things like potatoes and bread, this recipe will provide all of the energy, protein, and much of the nutrition recommended by the Canada Food Guide for two day’s worth of activity.

 

Ingredients

A flavourful and nutritious stew can be made with ingredients as simple as carrots, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and meat. Feel free to use only those ingredients which are convenient for you to do so. Also note that all measurements are approximate. Feel free to use as much or as little of something as you’d like. I use pork because it is the most inexpensive meat available and currently sells for $4.39/kg at Sobey’s. However, beef is also inexpensive and can be used instead.

500 grams stew pork

1 small onion (approx. 100 grams)

½ medium carrot (approx. 50 grams)

½ celery stick (approx. 50 grams)

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp black pepper (to taste)

2 tsp salt (to taste)

A sprinkle of thyme

1 bay leaf

½ tsp of vinegar, or 1 & ½ tsp of tomato paste, or ¼ cup of white wine (optional).

 

Directions

When you prepare this recipe, remember that temperature control is critical. Not only does the pan that the meat and vegetables are cooked in need to be at the correct temperature when cooking begins, it has to stay at the correct temperature for the entire cooking process. If the temperature of the pan goes too low, the food will release moisture and cook in its own juices and will not develop colour or flavour. The meat will be cold when it is taken from the fridge, so the pan will cool when it is placed in it. Moisture on the surface of the meat will also cool the pan as the cooking process begins. For this reason, it is a good idea to increase the temperature of the pan slightly before starting to cook the meat or before turning the meat. For better results, remove the meat from the fridge up to one hour before cooking begins to take the chill off of it and dry the meat to remove excess moisture. Listen to the sound of the meat and observe the sides of the meat as it cooks to make sure it is sautéing.

The long, slow cooking process breaks down the meat’s tough connective tissue and fat, making it tender and infusing it with flavour from the cooking liquid. The cooking liquid should be kept to a low simmer, with perhaps two bubbles breaking the surface every three seconds. Otherwise the fat in the liquid will emulsify and give the stew an unpleasant taste and texture. High temperatures will also cause the moisture contained in the centre of the meat to boil, making it dry.

    1. Place a fry pan on medium-high heat. Once it is hot, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. Season the meat with pepper and lightly dust it with flour if available. Add the meat to the pan carefully, allowing for at least 1cm of space between each piece on all sides. If the pan is not large enough to fit all of the meat, cook it in two batches and reserve it on a plate. Cook the meat until it is brown on all sides. When the meat is ready to be turned, it will release itself from the pan easily.

 

    1. While the meat is cooking, sauté the carrots, onion and celery over medium heat to develop their taste and release their flavour. Use a big enough pot to also hold the meat when it is added to the vegetables. Cook the vegetables until the onions start to develop a light brown colour and a light brown glaze begins to form on the bottom of the pan, lightly seasoning the vegetables with salt and pepper half way through the cooking process. When the vegetables are almost ready, add the chopped garlic. Once the vegetables are ready, deglaze the pot with a little bit of water and add the meat.

 

  1. Check to see if the meat is ready by how easily it pulls apart using a fork. When the meat pulls apart easily, it is done. Just before the meat is ready, additional vegetables such as potatoes and carrots can be cooked in the cooking liquid. Add a sprinkle of thyme, and a splash of white wine, apple cider vinegar, or a small amount of tomato paste can also be added at this point. If you do add additional vegetables to serve with the stew, remove them once they are cooked or they will soak up the cooking liquid and become soft while leaving the rest of the stew dry. Once ready, allow the stew to cool completely, then cover, refrigerate or freeze, and reheat it as needed.
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